I recently went to the Elephant Walk over in Cambridge, Massachusetts for what the internet deems as pretty authentic Cambodian food. I was actually in Cambodia several years back, and although that hardly makes me an expert, I was eager to go and see whether the Elephant Walk would offer me some nostalgia.

I had several courses including their curries and I thought they were pretty good (but not as I remembered). One appetizer that really caught my eye was the Nataing. It’s ground pork simmered in coconut milk with sliced garlic, peanuts and chili pods. This pork like salsa was served with crispy rice cakes, and let me tell you, they were amazing - both rice cake and pork.

I’ve tried to make homemade rice cakes by squishing together paddies of rice before, but it ended up dry and hard. These rice cakes were crunchy and crispy and was the perfect vessel for the sweet and fragrant pork sauce. I would say at first, it can seem rather strange because the sauce was a little on the sweeter side, but the combination of spices, meat, and coconut milk more that made up for it.

I went home and thought, “I have to find this recipe!” Luckily, The Elephant Walk actually came up with their cookbook a little while back and I was able to find the recipe. I’m not sure when I’ll get to give this a try, but I definitely recommend all of you do.

Ingredients Serves 6 people

For the Pork Sauce - 1/4 cup vegetable oil - 1/2 pound ground pork - 1 dried new mexico chili ground to powder or 1 tablespoons of paprika - 8 cloves garlic thinly sliced - 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk - 1/4 cup sugar - 1/4 cup peanuts, roasted and coarsely ground - 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions 1. Heat oil over medium high heat. Add pork and chili powder. Cook for 3 minutes while breaking pork apart. 2. Add garlic and shallot.
3. Then stir in coconut milk, sugar, peanuts, fish sauce, and slat. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until pork is no longer pink and garlic and shallots have softened and flavors have blended. 4. Serve warm with crispy rice or bread.

For the Rice - 4 cups cooked jasmine - 4-5 cups vegetable oil

Directions 1. Cook rice while pressing down into cakes 2. Dry in oven 45-60 minutes at 200 degrees F 3. Keep airtight several months. 4. When ready, fry in oil at least 375