A country always attracts tourists not only because of landscapes, history or people but also its cuisine. Cambodian cuisine is strongly influenced by Indian and Chinese cuisine with the main flavors: spice, sweet and fat. Tasting some Cambodia’s famous dishes is indispensable thing to do in journey to discover this country.
Bai Sach Chrouk
Can be found at every corner in the early morning, Bai Sach Chrouk or pork rice is one of the finest and simplest dishes in this country. Sliced pork, grilled on charcoal to keep the sweetness flavor and sometimes, they also marinated pork with coconut milk or garlic, depending on each region. Therefore, in each area, Bai Sach Chrouk can have a little bit different flavors. Bai Sach Chrouk often served with cucumber, radish, ginger and a bowl of broth.
There is nowhere else having the special cooking fish like Cambodian. They often use “slok ngor” – a kind of local herb to make bitter flavor. Fish is cooked with coconut milk and kroeung (Khmer curry powder made from lemon grass, saffron, garlic, onion and ginger). In the restaurants, fish is steamed in a banana leaf bowl to keep hot before serving to customers.
Khmer Red Curry
Not spicy as Thai curry, Khmer Red Curry takes coconut milk as the main ingredient, without chili power. There are some kinds of curries for your choice such as beef curry, fish or chicken curry served with eggplant, cowpea, potato, fresh coconut water, lemon grass and kroeung. Red Curry is usually cooked in some special occasions like wedding or religious holidays. It can be eaten with bread.
Lap – lime-marinated beef salad
Lap is one of famous dishes in Cambodia made from raw beef. Thinly sliced beef will be quickly seared or marinated with lime juice and after that mix it with lemon grass, onion, fish sauce, garlic, basil, fresh pepper and some chili pieces.
Nom Banh Chok – Khmer noodles
Nom Banh Chok or Khmer noodle is a popular dish for breakfast in Cambodia. It was cooked by rice noodles, green curry, fish, lemon grass, turmeric and lemon. Nom Banh Chock is often served with mint leaves, cowpea, cucumber and some kinds of raw vegetable. There also is red curry Nom Banh Chok but it is usually made in some special occasions, festivals or weddings.
Kdam Chaa – Fried Crab
Fried crab is a specialty of Kep town. The famous market is very well-known for fried crab cooked with Kampot green pepper. Let go to Kampot and enjoy this delicious dish!
Ang Dtray Meuk
If you visit some coastal towns in Cambodia like Sihanoukviille or Kep, you will see many street vendors selling grilled squid. Squids are marinated with lime juice or fish sauce before bake. Grilled squid is eaten with sauce mixed from Kampot pepper, garlic, chili, lemon and sugar.
Cha Houy Teuk
On sidewalks near schools in Phnom Penh, teenagers often gather to enjoy Cha Houy Teuk – Khmer jelly. There are a variety of flavors for you choose, from red beans, taro to pumpkin and jackfruit and coconut milk – an indispensable ingredient of this dish. The price for a bowl of Khmer jelly is quite cheap, just about 5,000VND.
This special dish is only served in restaurants or on the festivals. Fried fish with coconut milk, curry, yellow kroeung and pepper is placed on a lare plate having fish shape. It is served with rice or bread, Cambodians often call it by “trei bung kanh chhet”.
Red ants with beef and holy basil
You’ll find all sorts of insects on the menu in Cambodia but the dish most appealing to foreign palates is stir-fried red ants with beef and holy basil.
Ants of various sizes, some barely visible and others almost an inch long are stir-fried with ginger, lemongrass, garlic, shallots and thinly sliced beef. Lots of chilies complete the aromatic dish, without overpowering the delicate sour flavor that the ants impart to the beef. This meal is served with rice, and if you’re lucky you’ll also get a portion of ant larvae in your bowl.
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