After our morning at Artisans d’Angkor, our driver took us over to our Cambodian cooking class at Molop Wat Damnak restaurant. We were a little worried about taking our young kids to a cooking class, but soon realized that this was going to be a private class for just our family, so I didn’t worry as much. We were given a menu with choices of what to make for appetizer, entree and dessert. I chose to make fresh spring rolls, Cambodian-style curry, and mango sticky rice, while Austin chose green mango salad, fish amok and banana in coconut cream. We were presented with aprons and chef hats and jumped right in to food prep!
Ready to cook
At first, we decided we would take turns watching Owen and cooking our respective dishes. The owner’s mother came down from their upstairs apartment and took Owen up to play with her other grandchildren so Austin could watch us make spring rolls and document our experience. We washed and sliced up various vegetables from the owner’s organic farm, and learned the delicate art of making fresh spring rolls. The chef spoke pretty good English and was very patient with Landon as he struggled to roll the spring rolls.
After preparing the spring rolls, it was Austin’s turn and he grated up mango, carrot, and other vegetables to make a delicious mango salad. I will definitely be making it again in the future. We were provided with an English copy of all the recipes, making it much easier to replicate it at home.
Next up, I cut up an onion, chicken and a carrot and mixed it with a huge array of spices and sauces to make a Cambodian-style curry. Austin and I were both surprised by how much sugar was used in each of the recipes. The curry turned out much more sweet than spicy, although the boys thought it was too spicy and would not eat it.
Meanwhile, Landon had lost interest in cooking and joined the play date going on out in the front of the restaurant. All the kids of the house were downstairs playing with a few balls. The boys had a great time! Austin made fish amok, in which spices and the fish are first sauteed on the stove top and then steamed. Our chef steamed the fish in banana leaves in the microwave!
Lastly, we prepared dessert. We did not prepare the sticky rice, as it takes too long, but they brought some special sticky rice from the market and the assistant chef tried to teach me how to cut mango all fancy. His looked much better than mine, that’s for sure! Coconut milk was drizzled liberally over the sticky rice and bananas, making for a delicious tropical dessert. When all the food was completed, our chef helped us attractively plate the food with cut banana leaves underneath.
Finally, it was time to eat! We had a delicious lunch, and the restaurant provided enough rice that the boys were satisfied even without eating the main dishes, which were a little too spicy for them. It was the best food we ate during our time in Cambodia, and it came with the extra satisfaction of knowing we made it ourselves!This is the first time we have ever taken a cooking class during our time on the road. It was always one of those things I dismissed as being too hard to do with two rambunctious boys, but our Airbnb host assured us it would be OK, and a fun family event. He was right! The restaurant was so family friendly and graciously hosted our whole family and took them in as their own. The owner spoke great English and was very attentive to our every need. Austin REALLY enjoyed the class and wondered aloud why we had never thought to take one before! I would recommend this activity to anyone who has any interest in foreign cuisines. I’m looking forward to adding some of these recipes to our family rotation. They will always remind us of the wonderful time we had cooking in Cambodia.
Molop Wat Damnak has several options for cooking classes available. We opted for the lunch class that ran from 10 am-12 pm. There is also an option for a tour of their organic farm along with the cooking class. If you’re in Siem Reap, check out this awesome restaurant for lunch, dinner, a cooking class or organic farm tour!