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…
Find out all you need to know about the best Cambodian food and drinks before your trip.
One of the world’s deep-rooted cuisines, Cambodian food is a treasure trove of quintessential Southeast Asian ingredients and cooking techniques. Most of its ways and methods date back to the Khmer era, during which locals also adopted certain elements from the Chinese and the Indians. Khmer recipes depend heavily on freshwater fish and rice, along with an incredibly diverse variety of condiments like fermented sauces, herbs, and spices. Make sure you know all the essentials of eating and drinking in Cambodia for the ultimate food experience. Before you arrive, also keep in mind these Cambodian food tips:
Must-Try Cambodian Foods
Here are the top dishes of the Cambodian food scene that will help you eat like a local:
Eat like a local and start your day with this delish noodle soup at one of Cambodia’s street food stalls. Kuy Teav is a popular Cambodian food with different versions all across Southeast Asia. Rice vermicelli noodles swim in a hearty broth with shallots (usually fried), garlic, and bean sprouts. The meat is generally pork or fish. Based on where you are eating, sides such as hoisin and chili paste may accompany it. If you are thinking of eating it for breakfast, bear in mind that it is more intense than it looks but deliciously fulfilling.
Beef Loc Lac
A simple but incredibly satisfying Cambodian dish, beef loc lac is prepared with strips of deep-fried beef on a bed of lettuce leaves and other vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, and cucumber. You can order one with a fried egg on the top to double the protein. For the authentic experience of beef loc lac, dip a piece in the delightful lime juice sauce and some Kampot pepper. The Cambodians seem to have unlocked the taste of the beef better than anyone else with this sauce. The restaurants of Siem Reap will have it all for you.
Kampot Pepper Crabs
This classic Cambodian food brings the unique flavors of the sea and the farm to your plate. Caught fresh every day and sold at the famous Crab Markets of Cambodia, the crabs are among the best in the world. For the dish, the master cooks stir-fry the crabs and serve with some Kampot pepper. Give it a chance and you will discover one of the most authentic tastes in all of Southeast Asia.
Green Mango Salad
By far the freshest meal in the Cambodian food scene, green mango salad is packed with locally-grown vegetables and fruits. It has a crunchy texture that will satisfy your hunger, too. Sliced green mangoes are the main ingredient, accompanied by tomatoes, pickled cucumber, fresh mint and basil, shallots, and the indispensable fish sauce. Grab one at a street food stall as a quick bite or help yourself with a fine dish in one of the restaurants. No matter where you eat it, green mango salad will refreshen your day.
The signature dish of Cambodia is a scrumptious combination of Southeast Asia’s best ingredients. It is freshwater fish soaked in a creamy sauce of curry, eggs, coconut milk, and palm sugar. It is Cambodian to the bone with the irreplaceable fish sauce complementing the recipe. If you taste an exotic combination of spices while you are eating, it is turmeric, lime, shallots, and lemongrass. Together, they make up one of the most loved dishes of Cambodian food. You will find it served in small bowl-shaped banana leaves, giving way to a visual feast.
Mango and Sticky Rice
You have never tasted rice like this—sweetened with palm sugar and cooked in coconut milk. The main ingredient of Southeast Asia becomes a sweet treat in the mango and sticky rice dish. It is a common dessert in street food stalls and Khmer restaurants. Fresh mangoes are sliced and served next to the sticky rice, and they complement each other’s taste perfectly. Usually, you will find a small bowl of coconut milk on the side, and don’t be afraid to soak your mangoes in it for the ultimate flavor explosion.
Must-Try Cambodian Drinks
If you are looking to explore the beer brewery scene in Cambodia, Angkor beer is where you start. It is the most widely consumed beer and an absolute favorite among travelers. There are other similar lager beers, but Angkor is the smoothest and most tasty of all. It has an exotic, slightly bitter aroma that goes well with most Cambodian food, so order one as you dine out or enjoy it at one of the local pubs.
Sparkling palm wine is a significant element of Cambodian culture, nicknamed “the poor man’s drink” for centuries across tropical regions. The sap of various palm species including date and coconut palms constitute it. The sweet sap liquid is fermented to get an alcoholic beverage and sometimes distilled to create stronger drinks. It is cloudy white, milky, and intensely sweet in taste. As one of the oldest and most traditional Khmer drinks, palm wine is a must-try for travelers to Cambodia.
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