Hands on and delicious
Published/Last edited or updated: 24th March, 2021
Battambang has no shortage of great places to eat, but for those looking to do more than stuff face, it also offers several schools teaching how to make often underrated Cambodian food.
Laidback, informative and entertaining; sold as the longest-running cooking class in Cambodia, the Smokin’ Pot lessons also offer excellent value, at only $10 for a half-day, which includes a copy of a cookbook with 12 of the restaurant’s best recipes, so you don’t need to worry about remembering everything you’ve just learned.
Vannak Robie, the owner-chef of the Smokin’ Pot, runs the classes himself, bringing the group through the restaurant’s menu and letting them pick the three dishes they want to prepare that day. Then it’s off to the wet market to pick out the ingredients, all completely fresh.
Robie’s expertise is impressive and he learned everything he knows from a long line of cooks in his family. He is generous with his knowledge of the different herbs, spices and vegetables, and this part of the lesson is as informative as the hands-on cooking itself.
Bags full, it’s back to the kitchen for the hard work. Everyone takes part in chopping, grinding, mincing, pounding and slicing the ingredients, before working alchemy on the under the careful guidance of Robie. There is much to learn here, whether you’re a seasoned cook or struggle to man a kettle.
The best thing about cooking, of course, is getting to savour the results afterwards, and this is no exception. Get ready to feast on some seriously tasty dishes. This is a wonderful way to get a deeper insight into Cambodian cooking and what makes it tick. This class is perfect for anyone who wants to understand more, though Robie himself says that picky eaters may not necessarily appreciate everything about it.
Booking at least one day in advance is strongly recommended.
Smokin’ Pot: 229, Group 8, 20 Ousephea Village, Battambang; T: (012) 821 400; email@example.com
Another stalwart on the Battambang cooking class scene, we can guarantee you one thing and that is the warm welcome you’ll get from this husband and wife team. Wife Nary is the chef and teacher, while husband Toot is your guide for the shopping trip to the local market. Together you will create four dishes from a wide selection of Cambodian favourites including fish amok, green mango salad, curry and a dessert. Then you get to sit down and tuck into the fruits of your learning.
At $10, these classes are great value, and the price also includes a recipe booklet in English and French. The classes run twice a day at 09:00 and 15:30, and last for 3½ hours. This class is highly recommended by virtually everyone who takes it.
Nary Kitchen: #650 St 111, Battambang; T: (012) 763 950; www.narykitchen.com
Nicky Sullivan is an Irish freelance writer (and aspiring photographer). She has lived in England, Ireland, France, Spain and India, but decided that her tribe and heart are in Cambodia, where she has lived since 2007 despite repeated attempts to leave. She dreams of being as tough as Dervla Murphy, but fears there may be a long way to go. She can’t stand whisky for starters. She was a researcher, writer and coordinator for The Angkor Guidebook: Your Essential Companion to the Temples, now one of the best-selling guidebooks to the temples.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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