Cambodian cuisine is a tricky one. As an ex French colony, with influences from China, Thailand and Viet Nam, some foodies may find it hard to pinpoint an identity. But what really defines Khmer food is the emphasis on simplicity and freshness. Unlike Chinese food and Thai food, Cambodian dishes are shy with spices, creating a much more elegant taste.
For anyone who finds South East Asian cuisine too overpowering, Cambodia can offer beautifully cooked and very simple ingredients with very relaxed flavours that don’t overwhelm your taste buds.
If you’re new to Khmer cuisine, here are 5 must-try dishes that will get your mouth watering…
1. Khmer Bor Bor
This won’t be love at first sight. And it won’t be love at first taste. Bor Bor is an overcooked rice dish which is essentially a savoury porridge. It can be cooked with or without meat and is often served with some freshly chopped spring onion for added flavour and texture. Khmer Bor Bor is something you will grow to love. After a few bowls, you’ll be craving more. It’s such a basic dish and here’s a fantastic recipe so you can recreate your Cambodian food experience at home.
2. Bai Sach Chrouk (Pork and Rice)
This is South East Asian cooking at a very basic level, but the emphasis is on freshness and the simple flavours and textures. Thinly sliced pork is grilled slowly and then served on a bed of rice and finished off with ginger, spring onion, pickled cucumber and radish. Such a light and refreshing dish, perfect for hot weather.
3. Fish Amok
This is a popular dish with tourists and travellers and is served in a lot of restaurants and hotels. (For hotels deals, visit The Holiday Place online). This fish dish is actually a popular meal in a number of neighbouring countries. But the Cambodian version uses a local herb (called Slok Ngor) which gives is a bitter edge to differentiate it from the rest.
4. Rouge Khmer Curry
If you’re expecting the heat and tickle of Thai red curry, you might be disappointed. The Khmer red curry does not use chilli powder but takes its main flavours from coconut mash liquor, eggplant, coconut milk, blady grass, and a spice paste called Kroeung.
5. Beef with Red Ants
Insects and grubs are popular street food snacks in Cambodia. It can be quite daunting for some insect-eating rookies, but this dish is extremely popular with locals. Served with lemongrass, shallots, garlic, ginger and kaffir lime leaf, the finished dish is beautifully flavoured. Unsure about the ants? Take a look at how it’s made on this blog post.
This is a guest post by @magstheblogger, a travel writer at The Smart Girl’s Travel Guide.