The lure of Cambodia is its gentle caress on the hearts and memories of those who come to visit. With its lush tropical jungles, bright sunshine, and gleaming Buddhist temples whose spires reach for the sky, this Southeast Asian locale is also the land of warm-hearted people, sprawling rice paddies, and an unhurried pace of rural life along the meandering Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake. These forested lands and essential waterways are the indispensable lifelines contributing to a rich culture of food traditions that revolve around abundant rice, exotic fruits and vegetables, and everything coconut.
In this aromatic curry I use king oyster mushrooms to stand in for the scallops because they provide that perfect hearty base and offer a satisfying similar chewiness to that of scallops. This dish provides plenty of sauce to spoon over steamed brown rice or noodles. If you can locate galangal, experiment with it in place of the ginger and you'll discover a delightful new richness of flavor. When cooked, galangal also becomes pleasantly soft and can be eaten like a vegetable.
1 medium onion, thinly sliced into half moons
¼ cup water
2 red chilies, seeded and slivered
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons dried curry leaves
3 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 ¼ cups lite coconut milk
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces