Cambodians love to eat! Once you learn more about local cuisine, you’ll soon love Cambodian food, too. Cambodia shares many dishes with its neighbors but Cambodia’s resourceful people have found their own ways to add a tasty, unique twist to otherwise familiar dishes. Curries are a common staple of Khmer food, although they are typically less spicy than those found in Thailand. Khmer food tends to contain a larger variety of stir-fried vegetables and more garlic than found in Thai food.
Probably the most popular Cambodian dish. This dish is composed of a rich and creamy curry like sauce that is the perfect balance of ginger, lemongrass, turmeric and coconut milk. When cooked correctly, the fish is silky smooth, almost melting in your mouth with each bite. This is usually served wrapped in a banana leaf and isn’t too spicy.
Lap Khmer (Lime-marinated Khmer beef salad)
This dish is a take on ceviche as they take thin slices of beef which is marinated in lime juice with lots of shallots, garlic, fish sauce, basil, mint, and bell peppers. The whole thing is then topped with lots of chilies. To those that aren’t too big on spice, be warned, this dish almost always comes with a kick!
Nom Banh Chok
This popular Khmer dish is often eaten during breakfast and is sold in the streets early in the morning. This dish is made up of thin rice noodles topped with a green fish gravy with lots of fresh bean sprouts, banana flowers, cucumbers and a wide array of green vegetables. Although it sounds rather strange, this dish is delicious and is one of the must-try meals while in Cambodia.
Khmer Red Curry
Unlike its Thai counterpart, Khmer curry doesn’t have the tendency to blow a hole through your mouth. Often made with either chicken, beef or fish, this dish is made with potatoes, coconut milk, lemongrass, and a special Cambodian ingredient, kroeung.
Bai Sach Chrouk (Grilled pork and broken rice)
If you’re looking for something easy to eat as you ease into Cambodian food, try some bai sach chrouk. This is grilled pork that is marinated in coconut milk and garlic. This dish can be found everywhere on the streets and is served with broken rice along with fresh vegetables. The beef is really flavourful and tender due to the coconut milk. The fresh veggies are also a nice addition to every bite!
Lok lak (Stir-fried beef in brown sauce)
A typical stir fry, lok lak is a traditional Khmer dish made using thin slices of beef or pork in a brown sauce. This dish is typically served with rice and some green salad. They normally serve this with a dipping sauce consisting of lime, salt, and pepper.
This delicious dish is composed of braised chicken or pork topped with an egg. The sauce is a thick medley of caramelized palm sugar, fish sauce, and pepper. Some varieties include tofu and bamboo shoots. This meal is very similar to the Filipino dish called Humba and is both sweet and savory. Great dish to order for those looking to catch a break from the usual spicy Asian meals.
Ang Dtray-Meuk: Grilled Squid
In Cambodia, you can find almost anything in skewers (even tarantulas!). Now, I won’t go too extreme by recommending you to try out spiders, but do try ang dtray-meauk which is basically grilled squid. Often found right by the coastal towns, you will see local vendors carrying small ovens cooking the seafood as they walk along the shore. This is a great snack to have if you’re looking for something light.