Bai mon is a traditional Cambodian dish that does not require many ingredients and is easy to prepare. The preparation is executed in a steamer and a wok. So the flavors and aroma of the chicken are preserved and are combined with rice for an excellent result.
People are often put off by the perceived difficulty of execution and the large list of ingredients necessary for the preparation of Cambodian dishes and because of this, bai mon is an excellent introduction to this cuisine. Its preparation is fast and the result is delicious. In Cambodia, it is not rare to find this dish on the breakfast tables, as it is a complete dish which brings all the necessary nutrients to face a long day but which still remains a light dish. Until recently, bai mon was cooked by Cambodian women at dawn for rice workers. Sometimes, they prepared a very large quantity and traveled by rice boat to the rice fields to supply the staff of rice plantations. This dish is always welcomed after a morning of busy work. Today, this dish has become family-friendly and can also be found on the tables of students, who make it in memory of their grandmothers.
Cambodian gastronomy goes back to the time of the kingdom of Angkor, cradle of the Khmer civilization. From its origin, rice is predominant, as is fish from the Mekong River. It thanks to the interactions with its neighbors and its history with Thailand, Vietnam, India, China and later France, that this cuisine has become so varied and refined. Like all the cuisines straddling the two vast Chinese and Indian civilizations, Cambodian cuisine has borrowed from these influences but nevertheless developed a character that is unique. The Cambodian diaspora has helped spread these specificities around the world.
Essentially a street food cuisine, it is made of very fresh products where green vegetables are predominant just like here with scallion, cucumber or salad. These fresh vegetables have the benefit of bringing a lot of vitamins, but also a lot of freshness to dishes that are often highly seasoned. Fish sauce is obtained from fermented fish. This condiment is similar to the garum used by the Romans in ancient times. The fish sauce is obtained after pressing and filtering anchovies that are macerated for 12 months in jars or wooden barrels arranged in the sun. The fish used for its production are a special anchovy species called Coilia macrognathus. In Cambodia, this fish sauce is known as teuk trey.
Steamed chicken and rice give an very satisfying result. This gentle cooking keeps all the tenderness and juiciness of the poultry. So all the pieces will stay soft and delicious. The spicy sauce is beautifully flavored and it will be possible to enjoy the leftovers the next day by simply soaking the pieces in this sauce. The cooking of the rice made in two stages also gives the rice a particular flavor, complemented by the garlic and chili. The flavors of the chicken come to perfume the rice slowly. This rice makes the perfect accompaniment for our poultry. The different crunchy vegetables are served as a garnish for the bai mon and offer crispiness and freshness to the dish. Its friendly appearance is particularly pleasing: everyone can pick the piece of chicken they prefer, but also the amount of sauce they want, directly from the serving dish.
Bai mon is an irresistible recipe. It will bring a touch of spice to the standard Sunday lunch chicken and young and old will feast on this Cambodian dish. Just be careful with the amount of peppers in the sauce though!
Bai Mon is a delicious traditional Cambodian dish consisting of rice and chicken, that is typically steamed.
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 quarts water
- 6 small red hot peppers
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup fish sauce
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 cups boiled water
- 2 oz. ginger
- 5 cloves garlic
- 5 cups long grain white rice (ideally jasmine rice)
- 3 cubes chicken broth , diluted in ½ cup boiling water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 5 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 scallions , chopped
- Chicken's cooking juices
- 2 cucumbers , cut into sticks
- 1 lettuce
- A few scallions , cut into sticks
- Steamer basket
- In a large pot with a steamer basket, boil the 4 quarts of water.
- Coat the chicken with salt.
- Place the chicken in the steamer basket and cook for 30 minutes.
- Then, turn the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Reserve the chicken cooking water.
- Cut the chicken into pieces.
- Mix the peppers, ginger, garlic cloves and half of the boiling water in a blender.
- Pour this mixture into a large salad bowl and add the remaining boiling water, vinegar, sugar and fish sauce. Stir well with a beater.
- Reserve this sauce to water the rice.
- Wash the rice 3 times and then soak in cold water for 15 minutes. Drain well.
- Remove the excess fat from the chicken cooking water and take 1¼ cup (keep the rest in the pot).
- In a wok, heat oil over medium heat and add garlic. Mix well and fry until golden.
- Add the scallions, mix well and cook for 20 seconds.
- Remove half of this mixture and reserve in a bowl.
- Add the drained rice and mix well.
- Add the diluted chicken broth cubes and mix well.
- Add the sugar and fish sauce and mix well.
- Finally, add the reserved 1¼ cup broth, mix well and cook over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed.
- Place the pot of stock broth over a high heat.
- Place the rice in a large thin cheesecloth and place this cloth in the steamer basket of the pot.
- Lower the heat, cover and steam the rice for 30 minutes.
- Serve the following in a large dish: a few spoons of rice, a piece of chicken. Sprinkle rice with reserved garlic/scallion mixture.
- Place a small bowl of sauce, lettuce, cucumbers and scallions on the side or center of the dish.
- Sprinkle with sauce.