Most people will notice that find that Cambodian food has its own regional flair.
What sets Cambodian cuisine apart from its Southeast Asian neighbors is its lack of reliance on chilies for seasoning, though the cuisine is no less flavorful.
Instead, Cambodian cuisine relies on a subtler blending of flavors and spices. Travelers to Cambodia are often surprised at the wide range of dishes that the country offers.
Lots of travelers will appreciate the fact that Cambodia food offers balanced and healthy dishes. In fact, much of Cambodian food relies on a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and lots of fish. A typical meal usually consists of a soup, a main dish and dessert, with curries, salads and stir fries commonly served. Bananas, coconuts, mangos, star fruits, milk fruit, passion fruit, durian fruit and pineapple are just a few of the fruits in abundance.
Rice & Spices
A staple in Cambodia that travelers will have no trouble adjusting to is rice. Rice is served at almost every meal and is available in a number of different varieties including a sticky rice cake pudding. Noodles, including rice noodles are also a popular alternative that are regularly consumed and noodle soups should definitely be tried, when eating Cambodian food.
Common spices found in Cambodia food include coriander, mint, lemon grass, ginger, garlic and turmeric. Lime juice is used as a cooking ingredient and in beverages. Coconut milk is found in many sweet dishes, and coconut curries are a delight, as are rice noodles in a coconut based sauce.
Prahok is a grey fish paste that is a familiar condiment found in Cambodian food. This crushed, grey, fermented and salted ingredient may look a little off putting to travelers until they get a taste of it. For those new to Khmer cuisine, raw Prahok has a strong flavor and odor. Though it is sometimes used as a dipping sauce for fresh vegetables, those new to the flavor will appreciate it cooked into other dishes, were it can elevate and change the original dish into something quite new and distinctive in flavor. Fried Prahok is a popular dish mixed with chilli and beef or pork.
Prahok, with white rice and fresh raw veggies.
One of the most popular dishes in Cambodian food is Fish Amok. This traditional meal is a steamed catfish with a coconut sauce cooked in a banana leaf. Another popular variation of the dish is Amok Chouk, snails cooked in their shells featuring a curry sauce.
A popular salad in Cambodia food is a salad featuring green unripened papaya. Known as Bok l'hong, shrimp paste, tomatoes, smoked fish and peanuts are a few of the ingredients mixed with the finely shredded papaya.
Drinks and Beverages
When you go to Cambodia, you will find lots of familiar and new beverages worth trying. Familiar drinks coffee and tea are available in most restaurants. Coffee is either sold black or sweetened with condensed milk, while tea is served traditional Chinese style. Coconut water, lemon juice mixed with seltzer water and sugar cane juice are popular local drinks. Cambodian food also includes fruit smoothies sold everywhere in the country. Try pinapple smoothies at restaurants or Watermelon smoothies at Madam Sachiko Cafe. Truly divine!
If you're looking for an alcoholic drink with your meal, local beers include Angkor and Bayon are available. Palm wine, alcohol made from palm trees is a sweet and interesting alcoholic beverage to try. Palm trees are also used in a local Cambodia food for dessert. The juice from palm trees is used to make palm sugar, a sweet crunchy snack.
So in short...Go out there and sample cambodia's food delights when you're out and about in town (some good Cambodian restaurants reveiwed here). You. You won't regret it! And perhaps, when you return from Cambodia for your travels, you'll whip up something Cambodian in your own kitchen.
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