Ooh look what I got in the mail!! =)

I was very excited to get send a copy of From Spiders to Water Lilies, a collection of Cambodian recipes of food that’s featured in Romdeng, a restaurant that is a project of Friends International, and that is run by children who were picked up off the street.

First of all, let me say that I would have bought this beautifully printed book even if I wasn’t sent it because I believe in the cause. I believe that food is not just nourishment for the body, but also nourishment for the soul, and when children are placed in unfortunate circumstances, food can definitely be used as a tool to help them reach for whatever future they would like to reach for.

Secondly, I can’t believe just how yummy the food is!!!! I’ve never been to Cambodia, and I knew that because of the geographical proximity, there will be certain elements that are similar to many South East Asian food. But what I didn’t realise was that – even though in some recipes there are elements of sour, salty, sweet – the combination is just so new and absolutely delicious!

And so, I’m very happy to share with you…


Spicy Mushroom Dip:
Recipe taken from From Spiders to Water Lilies: Creative Cambodian Cooking with Friends, Pg 28.

1 tsp Fish Sauce
2 tbsp Sunflower Oil
4 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp *Chilli Paste
80g Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
1.5 tsp Palm Sugar
1 tbsp **Tamarind Paste
3 tbsp stock
Salt to taste
Thai basil leaves, thinly slices, for garnish

Wash the mushrooms under cold water then soak for 20 min in hot water. Discard stems then finely chop the remainder. Heat oil and stir fry garlic till fragrant. Add chilli paste, fish sauce, palm sugar, mushrooms and tamarind paste. Fry for 5 min and season with salt. Place in a bowl, top with basil leaves and serve with vegetables and bread.

*There is a recipe for chilli paste in the book, but if you don’t have the time (or are afraid that your clothes and house is going to smell like chilli for a while) then I think that sambal (the fried kind, not the fresh kind) is a good and convenient substitute.

**I used a mixture of bottled Tamarind paste and lime juice.


I found the recipe relatively easy to do. I made my own chilli paste, but ran into a few issues – I forgot to deseed the chillies, and for some reason, my chillies simply refused to rehydrate to the level that I needed. As a result, the dip didn’t seem as fiery red as was shown in the picture in the book, but it was still delish!

I toasted some multi-grain wholemeal bread and Sean practically scoffed the whole lot. And that is coming from a person who does not like mushrooms. At all. I very happily had it for lunch the next day, and the guys at the office seemed to like it too.

In all, I adore the book. I love that it’s for a good cause – the proceeds of the book goes back into Friends-International projects – and it is beautifully photographed and printed. The recipes are nicely broken down, and most of them are relatively quick. Yes, there are quite a few ingredients that are foreign or hard to find, but the book has a great section both in the front and the back of the book that tell you about substitutions that you can use.

Definitely a book that makes me want to go to Cambodia and try the food first hand.

Tammi of Insatiable Munchies was given this book by the lovely people at Beyond the Square Communication.


  1. muppy July 25, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Wow, i will have to buy this. My mum has been to cambodia and is so passionate about the people. Thanks, it looks really yummy.

  2. sugarpuffi July 27, 2011 at 9:00 am

    cant believe i never tried cambodian food!…i dont even know where to get some!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *