1 stalk lemongrass
2cm piece ginger, peeled
2cm piece fresh turmeric root, peeled or ½ teaspoon dried turmeric
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small shallot, peeled
1 tablespoon neutral oil such as sunflower
½ -1 teaspoon crushed red chilli, to taste
1 tablespoon roasted belachan (shrimp paste), crushed/finely chopped (optional)
2 teaspoons palm sugar, crushed/finely chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ cup (125ml) coconut cream
400g white fish such as gurnard, blue cod or snapper
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 medium-large eggplants
2 double makrut lime leaves, very finely shredded
½ cup coriander leaves
½ cup Thai basil leaves
jasmine rice to serve

Steaming is a great way to cook eggplant, resulting in a silky, tender texture. Eggplant cooked by this method benefits from good seasoning so salty sauces such as soy and fish are perfect. The stuffing for this recipe is based on Cambodian amok, a delicate combination that doesn’t overwhelm the eggplant. I have given the belachan as optional, but it is important to getting an authentic flavour. Browning the rim of the eggplant adds a nice colour and caramelised layer of flavour but it’s not imperative.


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1.Discard the tough outer part of the lemongrass and finely chop the bottom third of the tender inner part.
2.Finely chop the ginger, fresh turmeric (if using), garlic and shallot.
3.Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the chopped ingredients along with the chilli and ground turmeric (if using) and cook for 5 minutes.
4.Transfer to a small food processor or mortar and pestle and grind it all to a smooth paste.
5.In a bowl, mix this paste with the belachan, palm sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and coconut cream.
6.Slice the fish finely and fold into the sauce along with the egg.
7.Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and, using a small, sharp knife, scoop out the flesh leaving a 1cm border to form a shell.
8.At this point you can brown the rim of the eggplant shells in a frying pan with a little oil if you like. Set aside.
9.Finely chop the scooped out eggplant flesh and mix into the fish mix.
10.Place the eggplant halves in a large steamer and fill with the fish mixture.
11.Place over boiling water and steam for 30 minutes.
12.Scatter the makrut lime leaves over the top and cook for a further 15 minutes.
13.Scatter over the coriander and basil leaves and serve with jasmine rice.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Fiona Lascelles