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Cambodian Food: 10 Must-try Dishes for Foodies

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Geographically surrounded by Thailand and Vietnam, and historically colonized by France, Cambodia’s cuisine is similar to those countries in terms of ingredients and practices. However, Khmer cuisine has developed its own unique flavor while taking the best from other countries’ cuisines.

Due to the rich waterways and huge lakes, freshwater fish, shrimp, and crab are the main ingredients in Cambodia, mainly used in soups, curries, and salads. Rice is usually the staple food, and if it is not available at the table, its place is taken by noodles served with a variety of green vegetables such as herbs, mint, and cilantro.

When you visit Cambodia, you will be surprised to discover the unique dishes and amazing flavors of Cambodia. Don’t miss this opportunity to check out our list of must-try Cambodian food.

1. Fish Amok

Fish Amok is considered the national dish of Cambodia and a representative of Khmer cuisine, which can be tasted in many Khmer restaurants.

The dish is made from boneless fish from Tonle Sap Lake, blended with coconut milk, lemon leaves, and kroeung (a locally made curry paste), which melts in the mouth and carries no unpleasant fish odor. High-end restaurants steam Fish Amok on banana leaves, while street food stalls boil it for a soupy fish curry instead of mousse.

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Fish Amok

2. Khmer Red Curry

 

Not as spicy as the Thai curry, Khmer Red Curry uses coconut milk as the base but not too much chili. The dish includes beef, chicken or fish, eggplant, green beans, coconut milk, lemongrass, and kroeung sauce. Influenced by French culture, Khmer Red Curry is often served with bread.

This dish is usually served on special occasions in Cambodia, such as family gatherings, weddings, or some religious festivals.

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Khmer Red Curry

3. Kdam Chaa (Pepper Crab)

The delicacy is a specialty of Cambodia’s seaside city of Kep. The crabs are caught daily from the sea, sold at the bustling Crab Market, and then cooked at small roadside restaurants.

The chef usually fries the whole fresh crabs in hot oil and then stirs-fries them with native Kampot green peppers. The sweetness of the crab meat and the spiciness of the peppers create a wonderful collision.

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4. Nom Banh Chok (Khmer Rice Noodles)

 

 

Often eaten for breakfast by locals, Nom Banh Chok is based on an essential soup consisting of minced coconut, minced fish, lemongrass, turmeric, and green curry.

To enjoy this dish, diners add fresh banana flowers, string beans, cucumbers, and edible wild leaves on top.

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Nom Banh Chok

5. Beef Lok Lak

Beef Lok Lak is a classic Cambodian stir-fry dish of tender beef strips sauteed with lettuce, cucumber, sliced tomatoes, and raw onions, and seasoned with lime juice and Kampot black pepper.

Locals usually serve it with rice and a fried egg. The variety of vegetables makes Beef Lok Lak one of the healthiest dishes in Cambodia.

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Beef Lok Lak

6. Kuy Teav (Noodle Soup)

A fairly popular breakfast in Cambodia, Kuy Teav is made of pork broth, dried squid, and noodles served with beef meatballs or pork, carrots, lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, and radishes.

This dish can easily be enjoyed at street stalls. If you prefer, you can also serve this dish with lime juice and chili sauce to add extra flavor.

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Kuy Teav

7. Bai Sach Chrouk (Rice with Pork)

Bai Sach Chrouk is one of the simplest dishes in Cambodia. Thinly sliced pork is slowly roasted over hot coals to retain its natural sweetness. Sometimes the pork is marinated in coconut milk or garlic sauce.

The roasted pork is served with crushed rice and freshly pickled cucumbers and radishes. Often, Bai Sach Chrouk is accompanied by a bowl of chicken soup covered with shallots.

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Bai Sach Chrouk

8. Lap Khmer

Also called Beef Salad, Lap Khmer is made with thinly sliced grilled beef with lemongrass, basil, mint, fish sauce, garlic, and green pepper and finished with a drizzle of sour lemon dressing.

If you are an avid lover of spicy food, then this dish is definitely a must-try for you in Cambodia. In addition, some other vegetables such as onions and tomatoes are sometimes used in Lap Khmer.

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Lap Khmer

9. Red Tree Ants with Beef

It is a rather interesting dish consisting of ants of various sizes (almost invisible) tossed with ginger, herbs, basils, lemongrass, garlic, and thinly sliced beef. The spiciness of the dish is provided by a generous amount of red pepper, and the slight acidity of the beef is given by the ants.

Red Tree Ants with Beef is served with rice and sometimes a portion of ant larvae is added for extra flavor.

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Red Tree Ants with Beef

10. Ang Dtray-meuk (Grilled Squid)

The best places to find Ang Dtray-meuk are some of the seaside cities such as Sihanoukville and Kep. The squid is brushed with lemon juice or fish sauce, grilled over charcoal on wooden skewers, and served with a sauce derived from Kampot. This sauce is made of garlic, fresh chili, lemon juice, and sugar.

It is a great street tasty barbecue, very cheap and can be found in various markets and busy streets.

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Ang Dtray-meuk

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