Cambodian cuisine, though uniquely Khmer, has an often repeated generalization—which is nevertheless pretty accurate—likens Cambodian food to Thai food, but without the spiciness. However, Khmer cuisine draws heavily on the traditions of its Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese neighbors and residents. To understand Khmer food, it is necessary to refer to the history. Once an indianized kingdom located on the Mekong delta, in 1432, "Kampuchea" widened its borders into Burma and Vietnam current before the Vietnamese started to colonized the delta in the 18th century and Siam squeezed in from the west. It is in this historical logic that the Kampuchean kitchen is influenced by Thai, Vietnamese and indirectly, Chinese cooking.
Essential Khmer Spices
Lemon grass is widely used as an herb in Asian and Caribbean cooking. It has a citrus flavor and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh.
Kaffir lime, A very thorny bush with aromatic leaves. The oil from the rind of the rough, bumpy fruit has strong insecticidal properties. The green lime fruits are widely used in Cambodian,
Tumeric (Curcuma longa) is a part of the ginger family, which is native to tropical South Asia.
Galangal, is a rhizome with culinary and medicinal uses, best known in the west today for its appearance in Southeast Asia cuisine but also common in recipes from medieval Europe. It is said to act as an aphrodisiac and stimulant.
In general, Cambodian staples are rice, fish, and bread. In Khmer "Niam Bay" is the word for eating but the real meaning is Eating Rice. Showing how the rice is so important in Cambodia. Almost every meal is eaten with a bowl of rice. Cambodia has the regular aromatic, but also glutinous or sometimes called as sticky rice.
Because of the country's incredible richness in waterways including the Mekong, Sap and Bassac Rivers, not to mention the Tonlé Sap, freshwater fish and prawns are especially popular — in addition to which plenty of fresh seafood is available from the Gulf of Thailand.
The main national staple is of course rice, but French colonial influence has dictated that the Cambodians eat more bread, generally French-style baguettes, than any other Southeast Asian country. Cambodian cuisine also uses fish sauce widely in soups, stir-fried cuisine, and as dippings. Coconut milk is the main ingredient of many Khmer curries and desserts and curry dishes known as kari, shows its ties with Indian cuisine.
In Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, you will find French restaurants and a lot of Thai and Vietnamese dishes and influence (sometimes more easily than you can find Khmer food). A typical Cambodian meal consists of fried or steamed rice mixed with pieces of salted, dried, or cooked fish, seasoned with chilies or garlic, often accompanied by soup.
Popular dishes include an sam chruk, a roll of sticky rice filled with soybean cake and chopped pork, and khao phoun, a noodle dish with a coconut sauce. Freshwater fish comes from Lake Tonle Sap; seafood is also found in the Gulf of Thailand at Sihanoukville. Fish comes grilled (trey aing), steamed whole (trey chorm boy), or fried with vegetables (trey chean neung spey). Somla machou banle is sour fish soup; somla machou bangkang is spicy prawn soup. Special dishes include amok, which is fish in coconut, wrapped in a banana leaf. In former times, royal Cambodian cuisine was developed in the service of the king; thus arc sonic chefs in Cambodia who have mastered this culinary art, but restaurants serving this kind of food are rare.
By custom, dinner is included with most hotels and we will arrange for at least your arrival day dinner for convenience. Let us know if you do not wish to have this inclusive to your Angkor trip (don't underestimate your hotel's restaurants and cafes, especially if you are tired — some have the top restaurants in their respective locations, such as La Residence in Siem Reap and the Raffles in Phnom Penh.
Interested in our current dining recommendations for Siem Reap and Phnom Penh? Contact us and we'll send you our Cambodia dining list (updated monthly).BY TREE TAM
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