C is for Cambodian Cuisine

This is our Day 3 entry into the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, April 2014. We are up to “C” and we are looking at Cambodian cuisine. Our theme is “A weird and Zany world”.

a to z blogging challenge

Cambodian food is very good. It is a mix of  things that I really like and things that I am not accustomed to. The unfortunate part is that most recipes of the food that I really like are rarely written down being as they are handed down from mother to daughter. So unless you have a very good interpreter it is difficult to get exactly the same taste yourself. I also suspect that much like my friends, when you do get the recipe, maybe just one of two ingredients or steps in the preparation may be omitted, as I cannot recreate accurately some of the most delicious meals that we had when we were there. The way to cook and eat the food that I am not so accustomed to, is readily available.

Cambodian Cuisine

Restaurants, markets and street vendors are everywhere to be found throughout the country. The difficulty is in where to eat. You will also get freshness and the use of seasonal fruits and vegetables and you can tell as they are bought each day from the vibrant market places and prepared meticulously with attention to presentation as well.

It is a combination of sweet and bitter, salty and sour, whether fresh or cooked and has some similarities to its Thai and Vietnamese neighbours. Yet there are differences as well. Every meal includes rice and though noodles are used, rice is the staple. It is however the way that the Cambodians blend their pastes that signifies the differences.

Cambodian Cuisine

There are two specific ingredients that give Cambodian cuisine its own uniqueness. One is a pungent fermented fish paste known as pra-hok and the other, the kapi, a fermented prawn paste. They do not smell the best but they do taste extremely good in a finished dish. This and the use of condiments, makes Cambodian cuisine special.

When you receive your meal or eat on the streets you will often be given side plates of various greens, peppers and particularly the fresh green peppercorns which we loved. You will also be given limes and herbs and all of these are what make the dishes so special.

Cambodian Cuisine

Often you will given the ingredients to make your own sauce and this is an art in itself. If Cambodians are sitting on a ubiquitous plastic chair near you, watch them and copy what they do as nearly as possible. That is what we did. Judging how much of each is the trick, but regardless you cannot really go wrong.

Another treat awaiting you in Cambodia is street food. Food vendors are literally everywhere and you can immediately smell the charcoal that flames and smolders all day in small clay stoves, wire-topped barbeques, and beneath woks and soup pots. Fish and various meats and vegetables are for sale all day long.

Cambodian Cuisine

Cambodia was once part of the French Indochina colony, and the Cambodians love their coffee and really good bread. Men riding bicycles carrying baskets of long loaves of bread, baguettes are all over the place.

Another delicacy that I may or may not have tried is from the fried insect vendors. Here you can get deep fried tarantula spider, crunchy grasshoppers, and cockroaches. These apparently are full of protein and very good for you but we left it to the Cambodian children to enjoy actually.

Cambodian Cuisine

Fresh fruit and vegetables are abundant in this country, including the rather acquired taste of the durian, which the Cambodians love.

These are just a few suggestions of what you should try; Bai sach chrouk: Pork and rice, Khmer red curry and green peppercorn prawns.

Cambodian Cuisine

Another specialty is the red tree ants with beef and holy basil. Now I was nearly prepared to try this after they had attacked me at Angkor Wat but in the spirit of forgiveness, I didn’t.

So a huge thumbs up for Cambodian food and if anyone has access to the fresh  green peppercorns which we have been trying to find, send us an email please.

Also a huge thumbs up to the lovely Cambodian people. You may enjoy our Faces of Cambodia video

[easyazon_link asin=”184476351X” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”wwwcontentravel-20″]The Food & Cooking of Cambodia: Over 60 authentic classic recipes from an undiscovered cuisine, shown step-by-step in over 250 stunning photographs; … using ingredients, equipment and techniques[/easyazon_link]

Tomorrow in our  Blogging from A to Z Challenge, April 2014 we look at a country starting with “D” and stick to our theme – “A weird and Zany world”

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24 Responses to C is for Cambodian Cuisine

  1. Thank you for introducing me to Cambodian cuisine! The peppercorns sound very good.

  2. I recently visited Cambodia but being a vegetarian I couldn’t really sample the entire range of the cuisine there. I did try some very delicious vegetarian Amok!

  3. We did not spend enough time in Siem Riep to really explore the food scene, but I do remember the cricket vendors. There were three girls selling them and every now and then would reach into their baskets to munch on their product. Hilarious! What a fantastic memory…great C!

  4. Cambodian cuisine looks delicious. I love trying street food so would be right at home here though I’m not so sure that I’m game enough to try the tarantulas, grasshoppers and cockroaches!

  5. Ive actually never had Cambodian food before, but it sure looks tasty! That dish in the pineapple looks divine! Cant get over that pig though!

  6. Thanks for this – I will be in Cambodia at the end of this year and cant wait :)

  7. Yum, that first picture with the pineapple looks delicious! My boyfriend and I love trying new foods when we travel, it’s one of the best ways to get to know a place. It’s so sad when you leave and know that you’ll never be able to recreate a meal like that again. We had pizza on the outskirt of Florence like that. It was so good I regularly say that if we ever win the lottery the first thing I’m going to do is jump a plane back there for some pizza. Great “C”, love follow along with your letters :)

  8. We haven’t been to Cambodia yet. I find that most places I travel, even if I get a recipe, I cannot remake the food, as our spices are different. We did take cooking lessons in China, and that was helpful.

    • Same, we have done the cooking schools in Thailand and studied everything meticulously and still cannot get it exactly the same. I think it is the spices and also the way that they mix the sauces.

  9. Looks like I would enjoy sampling the food in Cambodia :)

  10. Great post! Loved the pictures.


  11. Sounds really good! Even though I love exploring food and really enjoy Vietnamese & Thai cuisine, I actually know very little about Cambodian food but I’d love to try some and ideally in Cambodia!!

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  14. Ha ha, we got attacked by red tree ants at Angkor Wat, too. Something the guide books never warn you about!

  15. Wish I got to try more food in Cambodia. Worst part about traveling alone is not being able to share food.

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