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Cambodian Food: 10 Unique Dishes You Must Try

Cambodia is a land full of surprises that attracts a considerable amount of tourists from all across the globe every year. The rich culture here has a long history of influences from both Indian as well as French cultures. The Hindu and Buddhist religions dominate this region and hence help to shape up the culture here. Just like the culture, another thing that attracts travel enthusiasts here is the famous Cambodian food.

About Cambodian Cuisine and Its History

Khmer cuisine is another name for Cambodian cuisine, which happens to be the traditional food habits of the inhabitants here. Cambodia is long known for its unique cuisine and delectable dishes. Cambodian cuisine is extremely healthy as it has formulated a diet that is light and quite nutritious. The Cambodian diet consists of several fruits, veggies with less amount of meat in it.

You can mainly find the influences of rice, water, and freshwater fishes on the Khmer cuisine. This happens because the famous Mekong River, the twelfth longest in the world, happens to run through the middle of the country. The capital of the country, Phnom Penh, lies on the riverbank at the conjugation of the rivers Tonle Sap and Bassac. The geographical landscapes, as well as the influences of other cultures, have uniquely designed the Cambodian cuisine.

10 Unique Cambodian Dishes to Try Out While Visiting “Kampuchea”

The land of Cambodia is famous among the traveller for its unique cuisines and rich historical culture. So, while visiting the Kingdom of Cambodia, do not forget to try out their exclusive ten dishes, which are:

1. Fish Amok

The national treasure of Cambodia, fish amok, is a must try out a recipe for the food lovers. It is a kind of curried fish that is steamed to infuse it with all the flavours within the banana leaf. This Cambodian food becomes so tender that it falls apart on the fork immediately. You can find the best fish amok in some of the leading restaurants in Cambodia, which are:

•  Romdeng
•  Amok Restaurant
•  The Sugar Palm

2. Lap Khmer

A popular Cambodian food, Lap Khmer is a minced beef salad prepared with raw vegetables and herbs, which forms the typical Cambodian cuisine. To enhance the flavour of this dish, the professionals add lemongrass oil and garlic along with pahok with the meat. Some facts about this cuisine are:

•  The history of these cuisines dates back to the food culture of Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.
•  People who love to eat spicy foods can try this out as it comes with a kick.

3. Kuy Teav

Kuy teav means rice noodles dish, which is a traditional pork broth-based soup and quite famous as a breakfast dish in Cambodia. The main ingredients of this dish include:

•  Mekong river prawns
•  Fish cake
•  Squids
•  Beef
•  Chicken
•  Seafood

This dish is prepared with a garnishing of lettuce leaves, scallions, bean sprouts, coriander, black pepper, lime juice, and garlic oil.

4. Kralan

Kralan is a famous Cambodian food, which is a good alternative for vegetarian people. This is an outstanding street food that is prepared with sticky rice, coconut milk, red beans, and grated coconut. The food is then roasted over charcoal, which produces the authentic flavour and the smell of the dish. Some places that sell this dish are:

•  Malis Restaurant

•  Romdeng

•  Friends the Restaurant

•  New Delhi Indian Restaurant

•  Topaz Restaurant

Read More: Top 5 Cambodian Street Foods

5. Red Tree Ants with Beef

This one-dish has gained popularity both among the people here as well as the travellers due to the sour flavour of the ants and the beef. The professionals take ants of various sizes that are barely visible and fry them with vegetables and beef. The aromatic dish is incomplete without the addition of loads of chilies and spices. The restaurants that excel in preparing this Cambodian food are:

•  Romdeng
•  Friends the Restaurant
•  Khéma Pasteur
•  Cousin's Burger & Coffee

6. Giant Grilled Squid

Grilled squid is one of the most popular and delicious street food found in Cambodia. The dish is prepared with traditional Cambodian sauces, which consist of lime juice, sugar, garlic, and fresh chillies. The portion that you receive in each serving here is quite enough for dinner. Some facts about this dish are:

•  Grilled squid is exceptionally healthy as this fried dish can boost up the levels of good cholesterol in the body.
•  Since it is moderately cooked with spices, hence it is quite useful for people who like to keep their food plain and simple.
•  This is famous street food in Cambodia and hence, readily available almost everywhere in the country.

7. Lok Lak

Lok Lak is a classic Cambodian dish that has its origin in Vietnam. The juicy beef is topped with a salad of crispy lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, and together served with black pepper and lime juice. Since the dish is loaded with vegetables, hence it is one of the healthiest snacks available here. 

One can find this authentic Cambodian food in these following places:

•  Malis Restaurant
•  Romdeng
•  Topaz Restaurant
•  Phnom Penh Indía Restaurant

8. Balut

Balut is the name given to a dish containing the fertilized embryo of a bird. This dish is rich in protein and hence forms a sweet, healthy snack for the people here. It is a famous local cuisine here which is widely available in malls and stores across the country. When in Cambodia, do check out these places for tasting the authentic dish of balut:

•  Digby's
•  Mara Steak, Wok & Wine
•  Sovanna Restaurant 1
•  Friends the Restaurant
•  KWest Restaurant
•  Indy House

9. Grilled Frog

It might be a little uneasy for the first-timers to try out frogs as food. However, if you travel to Phnom Penh, then you can try out their special grilled frog recipe, which happens to be the most tender and juicy one apart from the chicken delicacies. You can taste this Cambodian food in these following places:

•  C-Frog
•  350 BBQ Café
•  Cambodian BBQ Restaurant
•  Huat Huat Restaurant Bbq Chicken Wings
•  Nimol
•  Sovanna Restaurant 1

10. Chive Cake

Another renowned Cambodian food which is a must try out for the food lovers is the chive cake. The main ingredients used in this recipe are rice flour and chopped chives. You might expect it to be plain and boring but surprise yourself with the stunning taste of this simple recipe. This pan-fried snack is crispy as well as chewy, which provides the distinguished flavour of the Southeast Asian regions. The prominent restaurants which sell this delicacy are:

•  L'Annexe
•  Family Rice Noodle & Chives cake

Apart from these dishes, there are many other dishes which deserve a special mention. Mee cha is such a Cambodian food which is stir-fried noodles made with scallions, leafy green vegetables, and bean sprouts. This healthy and delicious dish is quite pocket-friendly as it costs only $1.

Read More: Top 5 Cambodian Noodles

Num pang is another traditional Cambodian food that is found mainly in Nompang in Phnom Penh. Cambodian iced coffee is a popular beverage to try out while visiting this place. Unlike the traditional coffee found everywhere else, the beans here are gradually and slowly roasted. They are dried out in the sunlight, which helps in the preservation of oils and sugars along with producing the signature taste of the coffee beans.are:

There is no end to exploring the cuisines of Cambodia. As it is a hub of different cultures, hence you can find different kinds of delicacies here. Thus, while visiting Cambodia, do check out these authentic Cambodian dishes along with their historic places and landscapes. The warmth and loving nature of the people here would surely make your stay a memorable one.

Read More: Best Cambodian Desserts