Unlike Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia does not boast a particularly strong gastronomic reputation. Unfortunately, during Cambodia’s tumultuous Khmer Rouge Era, many of the once staple dishes were wiped out. However, there are still plenty of dishes that will leave any foodie impressed with their stomachs full. Perhaps unexpectedly, there are major Thai and Vietnamese influences found within the dishes while the Cambodians preference for strong, sour taste is notable.
Though the opinion may differ in regions, Amok is arguably the most widely-popular dish of Cambodia, possibly taking the title of Cambodia’s “staple dish.” Amok consists of a coconut milk, curried dish made with either chicken, fish, or shrimp along with vegetables. It is often served in a hollowed out coconut with rice as a side dish. For the particularly sensitive taste buds that usually shy away from curry, this dish will please as it is far less spicy than its Thai cousin.
Noodles and rice are a staple for many Cambodian dishes, the Mi/Bai Chaa, or fried noodles/rice are a staple among those on the go and K’tieu is no exception. This noodle soup, pronounced Kuytheav, is typically served as a breakfast dish and often flavoured with lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, plus chili powder for the extra kick. It can usually be made with pork, beef, or seafood for bonus protein.
Sticking with breakfast staples, this dish is made with pork meat, or sarch chrouk, that is often barbequed. The Sarch Chrouk is served with rice, or Bai, and will often come with a side of pickled vegetables.
Sticking to the noodle staple, this hot, fresh sweet and sour noodle soup is made with pineapples, fish, and tomatoes. You can typically find this dish from street stalls and they will come complete with bowl and chopsticks.
When you’re ready for dessert or even just a sweet treat, skip the heavy treats and opt instead for a blended drink. The Tuk-a-loc is made of fruits, raw egg, sweetened condensed milk, and ice. They will satisfy the sweet tooth while curbing hunger.
For those with a daring side, and a particularly strong stomach, you can also find all manners of dishes we might consider strange or abnormal. You can try a “pregnant egg,” very popular in Cambodia, these are duck eggs with the embryo still inside. You can customize your order and decide on which egg you prefer based on how many days old the embryo is. You can also try cooked spiders, crickets, water beetles, as well as, barbecued rats, bats, and frogs.
With your taste buds tingling from reading about the delicacies and specialties of Cambodia, it’s the perfect time to finalize your trip details to this friendly country. Don’t forget to pack travel insurance as you get ready for your epic, food-filled Cambodian adventure.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Sodanie Chea.