The Nom Ansom is a cake prepared during festivals, in particular for the end of the Buddhist Lent, the remembrance of the ancestors or the Chinese New Year which is celebrated in many Khmer families of Chinese descent. The origin of the rice cake is Chinese and can be also found in Vietnamese traditions. Thank you to Thida's family to teach me how to prepare the nom ansom chrouk!
- Ingredients for about 50 packets (16 x 5 cm)
- 20 cups of sticky rice
- 4 bags of mung beans
- pork marinade:
- 40 g of whole pepper
- 1 spoon full of salt
- two garlic bulbs
- 2 spoon full of salt
- 4 spoon full of sugar
- 5 cups of coconut milk
- pork belly (sach chrouk bey choan)
- banana leaves
Preparing the banana leaves for wrapping
If using freshly picked banana leaves, cut off the central rib and trim off the edges. Cut the leaves into 7 inches x 7 inches oblong form, the edges have to be round. Clean the leaves in wiping with a damp kitchen cloth or paper towel.
To make them ready for wrapping, my aunts used to pass swiftly the leaves, one by one, over low heat charcoal. You can observe the color change of the leaves from bright green to darker shades. An alternative method of wilting is to place the leaves directly over the coils of an electric range on low heat, or pass them carefully over the low flame of a gas range. Be careful not to burn them ! You can also wilt in single layers, or slightly overlapping, in a 200F oven for 5-10 minutes.
Commercial banana leaves usually come in packages which are sold either by the package or by the pound. They are usually not wilted yet. If you buy them frozen, let them defrost at room temperature. Then unfold the leaves and let them wilt in the sun for 30 to 45 minutes but be careful, don’t let them be too dry; if you don’t have enough time, you may microwave them for 20 seconds.
1.wash rice two times and soak it for 8hrs
2.wash the mung bean two times and soak it for 8 hrs
3.separate the pork from the skin, cut in thin slices ( app.10cm long)
4.peal the garlic and crush it in a mortar with the salt and pepper ( Kampot pepper)
5.marinate the pork in the garlic mixture(dried marinade)
6.after 8hrs, drain the mung bean and sticky rice
7.boil the coconut milk until creamy (20 minutes), add the salt and sugar
8.add the drained sticky rice to the coconut milk and stir
9.Lay 3 banana leaves on a table with the ribs and the long side parallel to you. The underside of the leaves should face up. The first two leaves should flush each other then place the third fold in the middle. The reason is to make the center stronger to hold the rice while the edges will be thinner so easier to wrap.
10.on the middle sheet, put a laddle (about 2.5 tbs) of rice and spread into an oblong shape. The length should be about 15 cm.
11.add a thin layer of mung bean (2 tbs) on top of the rice
12.put a slice of pork belly in the middle of the rice/mung bean patty
13.Fold horizontally over the edges of both leaves to cover the rice and stuffing.
- Continue folding until you have tightly wrapped the rice and stuffing.
- Pat lightly to flatten out so that it will be easier to tie the strings.
14.fold the flaps down twice and tie the cake in the middle with a string using the scraps from the banana leaves
15.carefully tilt one end of the cake so the rice doesn’t come out, hold it vertically
16.look in the hole and push the rice so it is even
17.fold the edge by pushing the sides of the leaves inwards creating a 90-degree angle flaps, then tuss the folded edge with a strip of banana leafDo the same for the other side.
18.String the cake in using different knotting techniques. There are several ways of stringing the cake:
a.the Battambang way which wrap the cake in a circular manner.
b.the Khmer Krom way which use a cross-tie parcel knot. This method is faster and hold the cake tighter (efficient to avoid the cake to unfold) but is less aesthetic.
19.put all the cakes in a pan
At the botton of the pan, place in brace bamboo stalks so that the cakes do not lay at the bottom of the pan (avoiding them to be burnt), and that the boiling water flows easily.
20.cover with water
21.cover all with banana leaves
22. close the pot and cook for at least 4hrs at medium heat.
23.Once cooked, remove the packs and [les aligner et laisser tiedir]
How to eat the cakes:
-remove the strings by untieing them or cutting them (In rural Cambodia, we don’t cut these as the strings can then be re-used)
-Unwrap the banana leaves
-Cut the cakes with a string (dental floss is fine)
-Savor the cakes as they are or pan-fry some slices.
-The pan-fried cakes can be eaten with soy sauce (Chinese influence) or with fish sauce (fish sauce, sugar, crushed garlic, lemon and chilies) wrapped with a salad leave.