Child of the Amazon

One of my favourite traditional Khmer (Cambodian) eats is ansom. In brief, it’s glutinous rice with fillings of your choice wrapped in banana leaves. There are two basic versions: sweet and savoury. Savoury ones often contain ingredients such as pork fillings (especially the belly or fat), mung beans, salt, and pepper. These are delicious, and if you’re lucky, you can find them at your local Asian grocery stores.

This time, we made the sweet version, and two kinds in particular which are my all-time favourite: glutinous rice with plantain and beans, and glutinous rice with jackfruit and beans. The basic ingredients include glutinous rice (rinsed and soaked for about 2-3 hours), banana leaves (cut in squares, rinsed, and wiped to dry), shredded coconuts, plantains (or other variants of bananas), black beans (boiled), jackfruit, salt, and sugar among other ingredients.

There are many variations of ansom. If you visit places in Southeast Asia, say, Cambodia or Thailand, you’d see local vendors selling these delicious eats which come in different shapes and sizes and with different fillings. Kudos to those who make and sell these for a living. Personally, I find it’s arduous work. There’s a lot of prep work before you even begin the wrapping process, and it’s not enough to wrap it either, but it must be done right and with a delicate touch.

The prep:

After approx. 45 minutes of steaming, here’s the finished product:

These ansom turned out very, very yummy. Some like them hot while the rice is still soft and moist; others like myself prefer them cold, especially once the rice had had a chance to harden and firm up a bit. We could’ve also added some coconut milk alongside the shredded coconut for some more flavour and sweetness, but again, that depends on how you like your ansom. A touch of sweetness is already perfect for me.

When I was a child, while classmates would flaunt their PB&J sandwiches and all that fun jazz, I’d have these exotic-looking eats. So classmates and teachers would ask me what they were out of curiosity. It’s not because I couldn’t afford a lunchbox, and therefore resorted to wrapping my food in leaves, you guys, but my dad’s Tarzan and my mom’s Jane, and well, it just so happens that I like leaves.