One of the pleasures of independently travelling in Cambodia – aside from the gorgeous landscapes, tropical beaches, warm weather, friendly people and ancient history of course – is the opportunity to try the local cuisine.
Cambodian food is one of the oldest living cuisines in the world and it is fresh, spicy, relatively low in calories and high in nutrition. While you are travelling in Cambodia, make sure you sample some of the following five delicious local dishes. Please also become a Facebook fan, so you’ll be informed about future articles.
Why: This zest and fragrant dish is a Cambodian favourite and has an unforgettable texture.
Description: This is one of the most well known Cambodian dishes and it consists of a freshwater fish fillet that is cooked with a mixture of lemon grass, lime, garlic, pounded shallots, coconut milk, egg and roasted crushed peanuts. It is then wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed until it becomes soft and supple, taking on the texture of mousse.
The term “Amok” simply refers to this process of cooking curry within banana leaves and you will also find Amok with chicken, tofu, egg, minced meat and other fillings other than fish.
Khmer Red Curry
Why: When compared to the red curries you will find in Thailand, it is not quite as spicy so Westerners often find it more palatable.
Description: Don’t miss out on this hearty and flavourful dish, which is made with fish, chicken or beef as well as green beans, aubergine, beans, lemon grass, fresh coconut milk and kroeung. This dish is commonly served at special events such as family gatherings, weddings and religious holidays and it will often be served with bread, which is due to the French influence on Cambodia.
Kampot Pepper Crab
Why: This is the ultimate locavore dish – right down to the seasoning.
Description: While you are in Cambodia, be sure to spend some time in the lovely coastal village of Kep. There you will find a row of crab shacks along the sea, offering one of the most delicious meals in Cambodia – Kampot Pepper Crab. You will be able to watch the local people wading out with their crab nets to catch the fresh crab and then bring it to the cooking area where it is cut and stir-fried in large woks with a sauce made from high quality pepper grown in the manganese rich soil of Kampot.
Lotus Root Salad
Why: Fresh and tasty, it’s a super healthy treat packed with nutrients.
Description: Cambodian food and cuisine also includes a lot of fresh salads that offer a refreshing combination of colour, texture and flavour. Lotus root salad is a great example, with plenty of citrus juices, fragrant herbs, crunchy nuts and a hint of chilli. You could also try other salads with green mango, banana flower or jackfruit as the main ingredient.
Why: It’s something you must try in Cambodia, so don’t be shy and give it a taste!
Description: Cambodians love prahok, which is a crushed, fermented and salted fish paste that is often used as a seasoning or a condiment. Its nickname is “Cambodian Cheese” due to the strong smell that it has. It is a strong flavour and it is usually quite unusual for most visitors, but it is worth trying this unique and exotic paste – you just might like it’s salty taste!
These are just a few of the dishes characteristic to this part of the world, so be sure to sample all of them during your travels in Cambodia.
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