Cambodian Cuisine and Khmer Food
Cambodian food is a delightful and remarkable experience. Unlike other foods, Cambodian cuisine has a little something for everybody. There are dishes to satisfy a person’s desire for spicy food; dishes for those with a preference for sweet food; and dishes to satisfy the palate of those who desire sour and salty food as well. One of the main staples of Cambodian food would be lots of rice. Khmer food also includes lots of vegetables, tropical fruits, fish, stir-fried foods, grilled examples, noodles, and many varieties of curries as well. For the Cambodian, Khmer food is meant to be not just a meal, but a culinary experience for all to enjoy. The Khmer people are very proud of their culinary heritage and they rarely write any of their recipes down. They are usually passed down from the mother to the daughter instead.
Staples of Khmer Food
Besides rice, there are a number of other staples present in Khmer food. First of all, the culinary artists of Cambodia have perfect different techniques for blending spices. One such blend would be in the joining together of cloves, star anise, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, turmeric and ginger. They add other native ingredients like garlic, shallots, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass to these spices to make a rather unique spice blend known as “kroeung”. The Khmer chefs also have other blends they are fond of, including a fermented fish paste known as pra-hok and a fermented prawn spice variety as well. Although these staples usually require some getting used to, many Khmer individuals love them and use them in many dishes or even as a dipping sauce. Some of the main dishes will also come with a soup (called samlor), some noodles, and even a Cambodian version of chili which can be added.
Popular Khmer Dishes
The people of Cambodia have developed many popular dishes over the centuries. The well-established culinary tradition of Cambodia includes foods such as Prahok Kties, which is a remarkable staple dish that consists of fermented fish. The fish is fried with pork cut from the underside of the belly of the hog. The fish is also endowed with a variety of spices. Cambodia is known for having an amazing offering of pork called sat tru which accentuates many dishes. Another popular dish that natives of Cambodia enjoy would be the Machu Kroung, which is a popular soup native to the area. This Khmer soup is a healthy and filling sweet and sour soup that has been enjoyed by natives for centuries. Consisting of fried peanuts which accentuate the unique taste of the soup, the lemongrass (slak krai) and the saffron give the palate a remarkable sensation. Endowed with decorative and locally grown chili flakes called matey, the soup is both appealing in taste and also easy on the eyes. Natives, of course, view this dish more as a curry than as a soup. Another dish that the Cambodian native will enjoy would be the Korko, which is a tradition gravy. If you think that you know what gravy looks like, then you are in for quite surprise because the Cambodians of course have their own spin on gravy. This dish consists of a toasted rice staple that is pounded and turned into a base. This main ingredient is then complemented with a delicious blend of prahok, pork, and pumpkin spices. This blend delivers a wonderful texture to the palate and this blend of ingredients has been cooked to perfection for centuries in this country. Cambodians also enjoy ansom chek, which is a cylinder-shaped rice cake wrapped in banana leaves and mixed with bananas. There is also a version in Cambodia that is filled with pork called ansom tru.
The native of Cambodia has much to offer the individual who desires to try some of their Cambodian cuisine. For over centuries, this country has developed a reputation for some of the most underrated types of food in a unique blend and style. If you are looking to try some of this amazing cuisine, check in our selection of restaurants serving Cambodian food, some restaurant also offers cooking classes to discover the secrets of Khmer cuisine. Give Cambodian cuisine a try today and you will definitely be glad that you did!
Photography: La Table Khmère restaurant and cooking class in Phnom Penh