What To Eat In Cambodia: Filtraveler’s Guide To Cambodian Food
Cambodian food is not really well-known internationally compared to more glamorous Thai and Vietnamese food. That is the reason why many people from around the world are not sure what to look for when they come to visit Cambodia. Khmer cuisine has quite similarities with the cuisines of its neighboring countries, Thailand (but the less spicy one) and Vietnam ( to a lesser extent). Moreover, Chinese and Indian influences are also evident in their curries and stir-fries. On this blog, I will be introducing Khmer or Cambodian food so you will have an idea on what to look for on your visit to Cambodia – The Kingdom of Wonder.
#1 Fish Amok
Amok is the most well-known Traditional Cambodian food. Fresh fish is cooked with coconut milk and flavored with lemon grass, turmeric, chilli and other spices. The main ingredient is the “amok”. Amok or the leaves of noni berries. It is usually served in a banana leaf accompanied with rice. You can have options on beef, chicken or vegetables.
#2 Beef Lok Lak
Beef Lok Lak is a stir-fried beef dish which is prepared with plenty of oyster sauce and soy sauce. It is usually served with rice and vegetables such as lettuce, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and fried egg on top – this is a must try Khmer food! Many restaurants in Siem Reap also serve Beef Lok Lak with fries to cater for the western tourists.
#3 Khmer Curries
Cambodian curries are similar to Thai curries, both using coconut milk as the main ingredient. Khmer curries are often cooked with beef/chicken with some vegetables such as eggplant, potatoes, and green beans. They are a less spicy and sweeter version of Thai curries.
#4 Fresh Spring Rolls
Fresh Spring Rolls are also a must try in Cambodia. They are not only delicious, they are also healthy as they are not deep fried. This cannot be considered as a truly Cambodian food as Vietnam also has their own version of spring rolls. The filling encompasses vegetables such as carrots, special herbs, cucumber and then it is wrapped with a rice paper (very Vietnamese). The sauce which is made of chili, palm sugar, vinegar, lime juice and crushed peanuts make these spring rolls a delectable dish.
Who introduced me to Cambodian Fresh Spring Rolls? A good friend of mine, Ms. Vi of the TheTravelingCats. Every time we speak about Fresh Spring rolls, our favourite restaurant will always be Father’s Restaurant in Siem Reap near the Old Market area. Check them out!
The Cambodian staple of prahok, or fish paste, is a combination of pork, fish, coconut-milk curry which has a unique salty and savory flavor. It is usually served with fresh vegetables such as eggplant, cucumber, string beans and green mangoes for dipping.
#5 Khmer Mango Salad
This is another strong example of Thai influence to Cambodian cuisine – very similar to Thai papaya salad. The Khmer mango salad also uses ingredients similar to Thai Papaya salad such as lime juice, grated mangoes, crushed nuts, dried shrimp, chopped garlic, chili (sometimes you can request not to put on your salad), mint leaves and fish sauce. This is a less spicy version of Thai papaya salad.
Where to eat Khmer/Cambodian Food:
- Abacus Garden Restaurant, Airport Road, T: 012 644 286
- Cuisine Wat Damnak, Behind Wat Damnak Pagoda, T: 063 965 491
- Father’s Restaurant, near the Old Market T: 092 141 694
- Niam Niam Restaurant at Navutu Dreams Resort, Angkor High School Rd., T: 063 963 864
- Bopha Leak Khluon Restaurant, Samdech Tech Vong Street, T: 012 630 570
- Rosy Guesthouse, Achar Sva Street, T: 063 965 059
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