Vegan Cambodian Green Mango Salad Recipe

Vegan Cambodian Green Mango Salad Recipe

The food in Cambodia was nowhere near as good as the food in Thailand, and the vegan options were also a lot more sparse. We had our fair share of rice and noodles with vegetables, and quite a few incidents of unsolicited eggs. One thing I realized early on in Cambodia is that, no matter how vegan something appears to be on the menu, always specify no egg or you might end up with a surprise. That being said, we did have some amazing food in Cambodia. From baguette, to durian, to tofu amok (a mildly spicy, coconut-heavy curry), to Cambodian green mango salad recipe, we had some lovely exotic food - most of the time ;)

Here is a vegan Cambodian green mango salad recipe that we ate several time while on the beach in Sihanoukville. I don't know how readily available green mangoes are in western grocery store, but my guess is that, if you cannot find specifically green mangoes in Asian grocery stores, unripe mangoes from your local store would do just fine. The idea is to use a very acidic and very crunchy fruit, so if you have any idea for a substitute, do leave a comment below! The recipe makes a salad for one person or an accompaniment for 2. Try it with this vegan amok recipe and wash it down with some beer!

2 large unripe mangoes, julienned
1 large tomato, de-seeded and roughly chopped
1/4 cup holy basil, chopped
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs lime juice
1-2 bird's eye chillies (to taste), finely diced
1 tbs palm sugar (subs. maple syrup)

Mix the dressing ingredients together and set aside. Combine all the other ingredients and mix in with the dressing. Easy ;)

Kep and Kampot |A Blog Post by Mostly Amélie

Peppercorn and Durian (Kep, Cambodia)

Saying that we were reluctant to leave the beach would be a slight lie. Upon returning from our remote paradise in Koh Rong Samloem, we arrived in the mayhem that is Serendipity: aggressive tuk-tuk drivers, pushy street vendors and beauticians, and drunken half-naked westerners - my newfound zen was being rubbed the wrong way.

The next morning, we were almost relieved to leave beaches and sandy buttcracks behind to experience a somewhat more cultural side of Kep Cambodia.

Kep-sur-mer was our next stop. Once a resort for the French elite and Khmer high rollers, Kep Cambodia still has several badly damaged French villas standing post-Khmer Rouge: some abandoned, some inhabited (albeit in their current spooky and dilapidated state). At the end of town is the beach, which was nothing amazing to us given we had just arrived from Sihanoukville. It was nonetheless very pretty - nice to finally be in a place where not many westerners go. In place of flabby sunburnt Caucasians were the soothing sight of Khmer boys playing soccer, ladies clothed in their brightest pyjamas swimming with their fully naked toddlers, and street vendors (also in their pyjamas!) hauling a BBQ over their frail shoulders. Incidentally, we're pleased to report that Khmer women seem to adhere to one of our top rule of life: pyjamas are never inappropriate attire.

The main draw in Kep Cambodia is the crab, which obviously doesn't hold much of an appeal to us, so after a day of riding pushbikes around, we were ready to move on to Kampot, the peppercorn capital, where we spent a few days.

Of Kampot, I'll say one word and one word only: DURIAN!!!!

At long last, the durian season is upon us and this is all I've been waiting for: the prices are dropping and I have been gorging myself like a honey badger.

I'm not sure there is a more heavenly fruit on the planet. I think I will possibly get a durian tattoo when I return home, what do you think? I'm actually serious. Once I left Cambodia, I really missed everything that this country had to offer.

M’Pay Bay, Koh rong samloen, Cambodia

Doin' Nothin' in Koh Rong Samloem

Having only seen beaches and paradise islands since arriving in Cambodia, we felt it was only natural to go forth with the theme and to crash one more island before moving along to the 'real' Cambodia. There are several islands around Sihanoukville where one can stay overnight, the main ones we were interested in being Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, both located just a few hours offshore from Sihanoukville.

After doing some research, and drawing the broad conclusion that we really are just two aging grumps, we settled on the most quaint and less visited of the two, Koh Rong Samloem. The decision was later validated on the ferry when we met the living version of Skinny Pete sporting a bike chain as a necklace. S.P. happens to be bartending at a resort that shall remain unnamed in Koh Rong and he was just loud enough and had just the right amount of opinion and unsolicited advice on everything to make several passengers' ears bleed and leave us content with our island choice.

Enter M'Pay Bay, a rustic resort that donates part of its proceeds to a neighboring marine conservation project. M'Pay Bay is located next to a fishing village by the same name - inhabited by around 300 people and possibly as many friendly dogs, all sorts of hybrid dogs, little dogs with big heads and big dogs with little heads. No road, no electricity, no running water ( just a bucket and a scoop), no internet. Just us, the placid turquoise beach, coral reefs, flying fish, baguettes, Vegemite, ripe fruits and two hammocks.

Otres Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

How We Spent Time on Otres Beach

Arriving in Otres Beach, we spent a good hour combing up and down the two dozen or so guesthouses that lined the sand and beach road, comparing rooms and prices. With no 3G or WiFi to check Tripadvisor, and with the Lonely Planet recommendation of the Koh Kong Guesthouse still fresh in our minds, we were understandably taking our time to have a close look.

We saw lots of nice (and some not-so-nice) places, but Mien Mien looked good. 15$ a night for a double room right on the beach, private bathroom included. Sold. I was sure I remembered the name from somewhere, but not quite sure where… Check in, get online and - ah. That’s why the name rings a bell: we realize that some people are saying they had a rat problem. Uh-oh. This is confirmed the following morning when we find either rat or mouse crap in our bathroom, and later on the bed. So we said “nope” before having any real-life encounters, shouldered our bags and got right out of there.

We ate breakfast that morning at Sunshine Café, further up the beach, and were happy to find a spacious, clean double room at $12 per night. Shared bathroom, but whatever. It’s not on Tripadvisor and reviews are lacking online, so after extending our stay to seven nights (and reluctantly leaving only then) we thought it deserved a bit of exposure.

First - the good. Only six rooms - three bungalows, three rooms above the restaurant - all are smack on the beach. Our bungalow has the basics: fan, ‘squito net, double bed and is plenty big enough. The sand is wide on this part of Otres beach, they have plentiful loungers and comfy chairs. The massage girls and sunglass salesmen are present but not too pushy (slightly worse on slow days… I couldn’t get out of having my legs threaded after a bit of a haggling mishap on my part). The staff are always present and very friendly. We felt that this might be one of the few if only Khmer-owned place in Otres beach. Bathrooms were cleaned every morning. Two very friendly resident dogs are just the icing on the cake.

We ate breakfast, and usually lunch here every day. Delicious fresh fruit shakes - I go for watermelon, Richard for banana and peanut. The prices are some of the cheapest on the beach and the food is great (lots of vegan options!) - definitely recommend the mango salad and amok vegetables, recipes will likely follow. And seriously, the portions were *huge*. Honestly, we like to eat - a lot - and most meals finish with Richard licking his plate clean and then begging for my scraps. It is not often that we find a place where we can order a single dish and comfortably split it between us. So as well as being reasonably priced and delicious, we were kept well nourished for these hard days on the sand. In the evenings they have a barbecue - sadly meat and fish only - and light all the tables with tea lights. The atmosphere is hard to beat as the waves lap the shore by your feet and reggae music fills the air.

Now, the bad. We don’t have a problem with shared bathrooms, particularly when living on the beach and the extent of washing is pretty much rinsing the salt away. The bathrooms are cleaned every day, but because they are shared between the guests and the restaurant, they can be a bit dirty come evening time. The water from the shower is island water - that is, it comes from a tank and is a bit brown and stinky. Although that’s true of anywhere on the beach, not just here. Less forgivably, the bathrooms are in a mixed state of repair - the toilet seat is not properly attached in one, the light went in the other a few days ago and is still not fixed. Finally, our bungalow and the one adjacent are right next to the kitchen - so kitchen noise and (sometimes) smells do filter through. Not that we spend that much time in the room. The beach can be a little noisy in the evenings, but on Otres pretty much everything is done and quietened down by 10pm.

Minor quibbles when your day basically consists of: get up, work out on the beach and then run into the sea to cool down. Eat fresh breakfast and fruit shake, then commence sunbathing. Eat lunch. Sunbathe. Sea. Sun. Sea. Sun. Sun. Buy fruit from fruit lady. Sun. Massage. Sun. Shower. Sunset. Eat dinner. Bed. Repeat as necessary. If you are planning to spend some time in Cambodia, then make sure to check out the top temples in Cambodia as well.

Tip: try and get the bungalow that faces right onto the sea.

Bridge over the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Bangkok To Kanchanaburi: Everything You Need to Know

We arrived in Bangkok at a time where the protests were at their all-time low. I was very reluctant to come altogether, seeing as two children had died in bombing the previous day and it felt very unsafe to venture in. Fortunately, we had this map made by Richard Barrow depicting the main rally sites and areas to avoid and this, along with his Twitter account, allowed us to find a safe place to stay and to somewhat enjoy a slice of the city, albeit a very limited one. Our guesthouse was in Hua Lamphong and these photos were all taken in Chinatown. Hopefully, tensions will have cooled down and we will be able to visit about more freely when we return in a few months. So, we decided to head from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi for a couple of days.

We packed it up after our very brief pit stop in Bangkok, and them made our way to  Kanchanaburi where we had a date with elephants at the Elephant World sanctuary. Potentially the highlight of our trip so far? After seeing a lot of tourists trekking on the back of elephants elsewhere in Thailand, it felt good to find this place and see that other people like us had done their research and were willing to pay a significant amount of money in order to donate a day of their life 'working' for the elephants, harvesting, preparing and giving them food. I really felt like everything revolved around the elephants' wellbeing and they truly looked like a pack of happy puppies!

The rest of Kanchanaburi was good! We stayed at the V.N. guesthouse and I have nothing bad to say, it was clean and spacious and their restaurant had crack cocaine infused coffee. The city has got a few great markets and the WW2 Thai-Burma railway is definitely worth a look, although I found the set up very strange. The Thais are funny... I do understand that they generally like to "defuse" conflicts, having a giggle at each other's misfortune and so forth, but this was simply weird. To make a very terrible analogy, it felt a bit like if there was a McDonald inside Anne Frank's house. You know. I don't know. Girls pouting at their smartphones doing selfies with the obligatory peace sign, shops selling tacky t-shirts, violinist playing "We will rock you"....!   If you walk over the bridge and gather yourself a bit at the temple by the river and observe the bridge from there, it's a much more meaningful experience.

I nearly forgot to mention that I had the best durian to date in Kanchanaburi! No idea where it was from, probably Malaysia... So ripe. So sweet. OMG.

sukhothai, thailand

Bangkok to Sukhothai to Chiang Mai

We hopped on a bus from Bangkok to Sukhothai to Chiang Mai with a two-day stop over in Sukhothai. Our first land travel experience was an easy one with a first class ride equipped with a/c, toilet and a pretty baby blue and orange outfitted bus attendant feeding us biscuits and instant coffee.

Bangkok to Sukothai was a good choice because Sukhothai was a great pit stop on route with its historical park containing ancient Khmer ruins (my first temples sighting!), a bustling night market (although still no durian in sight), slightly scary back-to-front tuk-tuk rides and a family-run guesthouse set amidst the dense forest inhabited by what seemed like hundreds of howling stray dogs and off-key roosters. I can definitely feel far from home now and it feels amazing! We stayed here 2 nights before setting off for Chiang Mai. Honestly, I am so glad that we decided to make our way from Bangkok to Sukhothai first before continuing on our exploration journey.

Bangkok to Sukhothai

Having possibly forgotten to keep my mouth shut in the shower, we arrived in Chiang Mai with me feeling not quite 100% (lesson learned!) and had an easy first day settling into our guesthouse and walking around the Saturday walking street. There, low and behold, before my upset stomach, laid packages after packages of durian fruit, at the worse possible moment of my digestive life. Despite Richard's warning that there would be plenty other opportunities and that I should probably just settle on some plain rice for the day, I just couldn't resist and went for it anyway. And it was totally worth it. Creamy and delicious, and costing more than a four hour journey to Tha Ton for a single pod. This will unfortunately have to be an occasional indulgence...

We stayed in Chiang Mai 5 nights and it was perfect. From scooter rides up and down Doi Suthep National Park, temple spotting in the old city, vegan dinners and massage evenings, Thai cooking class (possibly the highlight of the trip! We went to this one and really had a blast! They were very accommodating of our diet and offered great vegan alternatives to shrimp paste and fish and oyster sauce) and the numerous markets we visited, everything about Chiang Mai was fantastically healthy and beautiful. Muang Mai market was hands down my favourite of the lot we visited, catering more for the locals and offering bountiful rows after rows of fresh produce and cheap eats. Obviously I had to settle for the most expensive item on offer. You would have guessed it, durian. Richard the ever frugal on the other hand had himself a big portion of stir fried vegetables and rice for under $1.

Favourite things consumed so far (let's exclude durian here): passion fruit juice, passion fruit and beet juice, orange juice, any fruit blended with ice into an all natural slushie, jackfruit, mango, sticky rice, mango sticky rice, the green curry I made in cooking class, lemongrass and chili peanuts and olieng coffee.

Conclusion: there has been a few fish sauce incidents. One thing I potentially hate more than consuming animals is to be an unpleasant guest. I can live better with the former.
Next we are heading to the northernmost region of Thailand, where we will be visiting towns bordering with Burma and Laos before making our way back down towards Bangkok where we will be crossing into Cambodia in a few weeks.

ps. I can safely report that the quality of bus service has exponentially deteriorated the further north we are headed and the more scenic the view is getting. Exhibit a. This seat is for 3 people.

pps. I caved in and bought a pair of them silly low crutch harem pants. Yolo.

An Amaranth Salad Recipes

I have a terrible confession to make. I was never fat. There. It’s out. I have no amazing before/after illustrated story on how I became healthy and slim. My story is more one of a lazy-skinny-pot-smoking-couch-potato, I’m afraid; it’s not as golden and glorious.  I’ll only say it once (because my mom reads my blog, as if she never knew!). My amazing not very amazing secret would be this: I am shit scared on getting old. So one day, I decided to kick my little 28-year-old butt and get a gym membership. And then I took on running because I thought I needed some form of cardiovascular exercise alongside the weight lifting. I thought it would be fun to get a little fitter before my 30s (before things start pointing southward, you know..)

I quickly started to feel great and have more energy, and so daily exercise became somewhat of a necessity, and has been for over a year now. Fast forward a few months, and at some point I started being a bit bored with running my little 5K route around the neighbourhood twice a week, and so I thought setting myself a goal for the future would be a good idea. That’s when I decided to sign up for a half marathon. Fast forward some more months, and we are now a week away from my first half marathon and I have never felt so good! So much so that Imma show ya'll a photo I took of myself at 6:30 this morning, Y'ALL :


Not so bad for an elderly woman, eh? ;)

OK so, what I am finally getting to is that, during these last three months I worked towards building up my endurance to run 21 kilometers, I started feeling less and less cravings for meat and more and more for vegetarian food. Who would like to eat a big fat steak the night before getting up at 6am to run 20K, I ask? So it just came naturally. My boyfriend Richard, who is also a new found jogging lover (he started running about a year ago and is going to run the full marathon on Sept. 5th), was the one who said out loud that he wouldn't mind not eating meat at home anymore, and I deep down felt a sight relief.

Going vegetarian, although most people do know it is one of the greatest things anyone can do for their personal health, the environment and for animal welfare, seems like a big commitment. My body was already telling me it didn't need or want meat to function at its best, but I still wanted to make sure I was ready to dive into this. So in the last few weeks, I watched Food Inc. and read Eating Animal by Jonathan Safran Foer, and BOY LEMME TELL YA, I ain't eating another animal ever again. WOW. It is truly amazing how everyone (me first, I was a vegetarian for a few years when I was a teenager, and then suddenly, I decided that it was just more convenient to pretend, like everyone else) just choose to turn a blind eye on the fact that all (well 99%. In America. Surely it can't be that different in Canada) the meat we consume comes right out of a factory, from tortured animals who lived pretty much piled up on one another and more than likely soaked in their own shit all their short painful life and were very possibly scalded alive.  I can proudly say now that last time I ate meat was on July 24th. And it was not even good. I'm still not ready to consider myself vegetarian though. I'd like to keep an open door for seafood or occasional fish for the time being. But anyway, that was that for the story of why running made me (sorta) go vegetarian.

So these new eating habits of ours have brought a great sense of experimentation in the kitchen. We have never cooked so much food from scratch, had so much fun in the kitchen or eaten such a great variety of foods. I even invented a recipe last night. A friend of mine posted on Facebook about her baby's diet and she mentioned that she made her some plum and amaranth baby food. Hmmm, plum and amaranth, it just sounded too delicious... We had a bag of amaranth at home and plums are right now in season, so conditions were perfect! I came up with some sort of Moroccan-inspired salad, and it was delicious. Here's one of the amaranth salad recipes that I used :

vegan amaranth salad recipe

1 cup amaranth, cooked according to package instruction
1/2 a cucumber, chopped in small bits
4-5 blue plums, chopped in small bits
1/2 cup slivered toasted almond
3-4 radishes, chopped finely
Big handful of parsley, chopped
Small handful of mint, chopped
2 tbs ground flaxseed (not necessary, but I like to sneak healthy things in places...)
1 tbs maple syrup or sweetener of your choice
t tbs cumin
1/2 tbs cinnamon
splash of oil of your choice (I used hemp oil)
s&p to taste

To prepare, simply mix it all up and serve warm of cold. To make it more complete, you could add a can of beans of chickpeas.

A splash of lemon would have also been nice, but I didn't have any on hand. It was crunchy and fresh and different from the usual quinoa-red pepper-corn-cilantro-black bean stuff we've been having a lot of lately.

If anyone happens to try this, I'd be quite curious to hear your thoughts! Richard thought "it looked funky but tasted FUN-kay!". Amaranth is a nice change from couscous, bulgor and quinoa (which we eat a LOT of around here).  It's very delicate and crunchy and vaguely reminds me caviar which is why we have shared these amaranth salad recipes with you. It would totally try to use it for vegetarian sushi. You should also check out a few vegan documentaries to understand why it is a good option for you.