From fried creepy-crawlies to hearty soups, experiencing Cambodian cuisine should be at the top of your list with Angkor Wat. Although it is usually less popular than Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, Cambodian food is nevertheless fresh, tasty, diverse, and unique. From breakfast to dessert, the most interesting foods to try in Cambodia are on this list! Here are our highlights of must-try Cambodian dishes:
1. Kuy Teav
Are you obsessed with Vietnamese pho? Then trying Kuy Teav is essential! This steaming rice noodle soup is a popular breakfast dish among locals, but you can have it throughout the day. With a fragrant broth (beef or pork) and fresh garnishes that could include spring onions, coriander, lettuce leaves, and beansprouts, the meal is a bright start to any day. Pork or fish balls are occasional toppings, while a squeeze of lime and a side of chili are common accompaniments. It is one of the most interesting foods to try in Cambodia.
2. Nom Banh Chok
Also known as Khmer noodles, nom banh chok is another classic breakfast dish or afternoon treat. Noodles made from fermented rice form the basis of this revitalizing meal. These have a rich fish curry that is ultimately garnished with seasonal vegetables and vibrant herbs such as lemongrass, basil, and mint on the top.
3. Fish Amok
Despite the simplicity of the dish, fish amok reigns as one of Cambodia’s prized national dishes. It includes ingredients that are popular in Cambodia such as galangal, black pepper, kaffir lime, palm sugar, coconut milk, and kroeung (a curry and marinade paste based on lemongrass). It also has hints of heat, citrus, and bitterness. Ultimately, the fish curry gets steamed and presented in banana leaf boats.
4. Beef Lok Lak
Kampot peppercorns underscore this emblematic dish. It is diced beef marinated with paprika, tomato sauce, fish sauce, and corn starch/potato starch. Once it is ready, it takes a short time to cook it, similar to Vietnamese shaking beef. The black pepper beef is typically served with rice, a fried egg, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and a dipping sauce to compliment the red meat.
5. Edible Insects
Although not a specific dish, it is important to note that fried or grilled insects are a Cambodian delicacy. As an inexpensive source of protein, you’ll find dozens of stalls with impressive heaps of cockroaches, red ants, water bugs, and water snakes—you name it! Tropical flavors are ever-present: the infamous deep-fried tarantula with a tamarind dipping sauce, while small, plump maggots are served with pickled limes, chilies, and spring onions! Tip: Don’t rule it out! Just have a beer in hand to make a great (or more bearable) combo with one of the most interesting foods to try in Cambodia.
6. Cambodian BBQ
Who doesn’t love a barbecue? Cambodian locals certainly do! For a nourishing street food snack, barbecue stalls and carts are plentiful. For a more satiating meal, restaurants hosting barbecue buffets are your go-to – the choice is all yours! The variety of Cambodian barbecue meat is one of the most diverse in the world. Take your pick between beef, pork, shrimp, duck, fish, frog, kangaroo, ostrich, crocodile, and more!
Our first dessert is a Cambodian pumpkin coconut custard typically for special occasions. It is a sweet, delicate dish that involves the steaming or baking of a pumpkin infused with coconut and egg custard. The outcome is silky smooth and soft – a perfect treat for any sweet tooth!
8. Num Ansom Chek
Like sangkhia, this sweet delicacy is typically for important celebrations, especially the Cambodian New Year and Pchum Ben (Festival of Souls). Sticky rice and grated coconut wrapped and steamed in banana leaves make up this dish, leading to the English translation: rolled banana cake. The banana leaves mean it can be kept for days without being spoiled!
Have we intrigued you? Are you curious to taste Cambodian cuisine for yourself? Eat your way through Cambodia with our fantastic tours! Niang bai! (Bon Appetit!)