By Jenna Jolie
Cambodian cuisine has long been famous for its attractive and colorful traditional dishes. Let Cambodia Immigration Services take you to Cambodia and explore its rich cuisine.
Where did Cambodia's food culture come from?
Since the Mekong River cuts straight through Cambodia, it's not surprising that water, rice, and freshwater fish have been the dominant dishes of Cambodian cuisine for a very long time.
Cambodian food contains interesting flavors and is not so spicy compared to its neighboring countries. Chili is usually served on the side, making it possible to choose how spicy customers want for their food.
Best Traditional Cambodian food
Cambodian dishes are easy to prepare and cook, often using many Indian spices. An important role in Cambodian dishes is turmeric, ginger, and galangal.
When it comes to Cambodian cuisine, it is impossible not to mention the following dishes.
1 – Amok: The Emblem of Cambodian cuisine
Cambodian Amok, called Fish Amok or Amok Trei, is a Khmer steamed fish curry with a mousse-like consistency, one of Cambodia's national dishes. In Khmer, Amok's meaning refers to the process of steaming food in a banana leaf.
Fish Amok tastes like a light fish curry with creamy coconut tones. The curry paste is rich in flavor without being too spicy, but lemongrass and turmeric make up the dominant tastes.
Cambodian amok ingredients have Goby fish, snakehead fish or catfish, yellow or green kroeung, coconut cream or coconut milk, and eggs.
The unique thing about Cambodian ingredients is Kroeung, a curry paste that gives it a distinct flavor.
While you may be offered a variety of Amok versions, the most significant dish is Fish Amok, which is always steamed.
Where to try Amok?
- Address: Khmer Women Restaurant - One block East from the corner of St 308 and St 29 in Phnom Penh.
- Hours: Every day, from 7 am to 10 pm
- Price: $4 per dish.
2 – Kuyteav: The Most Popular Cambodian Breakfast
When it comes to local breakfast specialties, there is one dish that rises above the rest. Kuy Teav is the capital’s undisputed pride. Kuy Teav is a Cambodian noodle soup. The main ingredients consist of rice noodles with pork stock and toppings.
Visitors can find out the alternative names of this food as Kuy Tiew, kui tiew, katiew.
A popular breakfast dish in Cambodia, Kuy Teav can be found at marketplace stalls, roadside vendors, restaurants, etc.
Kuyteav Phnom Penh, as the local version is called, takes the dish to the next level by adding giant prawns from the Mekong river and beef offal. This dish is in depth the best and traditional local food with fresh ingredients. Tourists who come to Cambodia will fall in love with Kuyteav and the people here by just getting a glimpse into the daily life of locals in Siem Reap.
Where to try Kuy Teav?
- Address: Pho Langka Market, Siem Reap.
- Hours: Every day, from 7 am to 12 pm.
- Price: 3000 Riel per dish (about $0.75 USD).
3 – Cambodian Rice Porridge (Bor-bo): Typical Khmer Food
The Cambodian rice porridge's name is Bobor. It is typically served with ginger and fish or poultry. It is a typical dish for breakfast and evenings amongst local workers, providing energy quickly.
Because the recipe for Cambodian porridge is simple and easy to cook, it is a common choice in that country. Congealed blood, offal, and either chicken or fish are all included in this tasty, thick soup. Ginger, coriander, and crisp fried onions are placed on top of the porridge. Besides the delicious taste, it is also one of the least expensive meals you'll try.
Don’t miss the chance to enjoy this classic Cambodian cuisine on your travels to the Kingdom.
Where to try Cambodian Rice Porridge?
Visit Central Market Food Stall, one of the landmarks of Phnom Penh. The Khmer name for the market is Phsar Thmei or New Market. The unique art deco building was designed by French architects in 1937.
- Address: Central Market, Phnom Penh.
- Hours: Every day, from 7 am to 6 pm
- Price: $1.50 USD or 6000 Riel per dish.
Read more: Things to do in Phnom Penh
4 – Bai Sach Chrouk(bbq pork and rice): Another Everyday Breakfast Food
Bai Sach Chrouk is another popular breakfast dish in Cambodia. It is typically served with rice, pickles, and sometimes a fried egg. Moreover, there are fresh tomatoes and cucumbers on top of the dish carrots.
Bai Sach Chrouk ingredients are made with pork slices marinated in coconut milk or garlic and slowly grilled over charcoal. This dish literally means rice and pork. The skin of the pork is caramelized from the marinade, and the pork itself is quite tender, so it has a very nice sweet and salty taste. With fresh vegetables added, it is a delicious meal you can have at any time of the day.
Where to try Cambodia Bai Sach Chrouk?
- Address: Khmer Women’s Restaurant.
- Hours: Every day, from 7 am to 10 pm.
- Prices: $1.50 per dish.
5 – Beef Lok Lak: Crowd-Pleasing Cambodian Food
Lok Lak is also called Cambodian Black Pepper Beef, which is one of Cambodia's most beloved dishes, and it's easy to see why.
Beef Lok Lak tastes like juicy steak stir-fried in a savory pepper, and slightly sour gravy served over a bed of crispy fresh lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes. It is a Vietnamese-inspired dish where the beef is cut into cubes before being sauteed. Typically, it is served on a bed of lettuce, red and green onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Beef Lok Lak comes with a light sauce made with lime juice, salt, and black Kampot pepper.
Where to try Beef Lok Lak?
- Address: Street 17 & River Road – a few stalls before river road, Sangkat Slorgram, Siem Reap.
- Hours: Every day from 10 am to 9 pm
- Price: $3 per dish.
6 – Prahok: A Traditional Ingredient in Khmer or Cambodian Cuisine
Prahok is a salted and fermented fish paste used in Cambodian cuisine as a seasoning or a condiment. It originated as a way of preserving fish during the months when fresh fish was not available in abundant supply.
Prahok sauce is used as a condiment or seasoning in nearly every Cambodian food.
Taste of Cambodia Prahok is a concoction of crushed and salted fish that gives off a pungent smell. Grey in color and visually unattractive, Prahok is left to ferment until it matures.
Prahok is one of the main sources of protein in Khmer food. In the countryside, simple meals of prahok and rice are common.
Where to try Cambodian Prahok?
- Address: #8A, B Phum Slorkram (Between Wat Polanka and Catholic Church), Siem Reap.
- Hours: Every day from 11 am to 11 pm.
- Prices: $5.75 per dish.