Before rice cookers were introduced to Cambodia around 20 years ago, we used metal or clay pots to cook rice, with heat from firewood or charcoal. This method produces two types of rice: regular soft white rice and a hard layer of brown rice on the sides and bottom. If you dry the rice from the bottom of the pot in the sun for around three days, it becomes very hard. We call this bay kdaing, and though it was often part of our meals, not everyone loved it because its chewiness requires a strong jaw. Bay kdaing pises is a superior type of bay kdaing that everybody loves, because it is deep-fried and crispy, and combined with a dip made from pork, shrimp, black mushrooms, coconut cream, and onion.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Serves 6 to 8
- Cooking oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4–5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 pound ground pork, not too lean
- 2 ounces dried black mushrooms, soaked and thinly sliced, or 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 cups pure coconut milk (or about 2/3 of a can of coconut milk, using just the cream on top)
- About 2 pounds dried rice from the bottom of the pot (or substitute store-bought thin rice cakes)
Put 2 teaspoons of cooking oil in a frying pan on medium heat and add chopped onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until both are soft and a little brown. Add the ground pork and keep stirring until the liquid from the pork starts to dry out, then add mushrooms and stir for about 2 minutes.
Next, add the palm sugar, salt, and oyster sauce. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until they turn pink.
Pour in the coconut milk and make sure that everything is well mixed. Bring the mixture to a boil for 2–3 minutes and then turn off the heat.
If making bay kdaing, in a different frying pan on high heat, pour in cooking oil. When the oil is fully heated (350 degrees F), start adding the dried rice to test the oil. If the rice sinks to the bottom of the oil, that means it is not hot enough. If the rice crackles immediately, the oil is ready.
Cooking the dried rice takes only about 5–10 seconds on each side. When it is done, take the crispy rice out, drain, and let it cool.
To serve, put the dip in a small bowl and place it on a plate with the bay kdaing or rice cakes.
Reprinted with permission from “Nhum: Recipes From a Cambodian Kitchen” by Rotanak Ros and Nataly Lee.