Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cambodian Cuisine

As you may have guessed based on my post about the fetal duck egg, people eat some pretty strange things here in Cambodia. (well, strange to me - certainly not too strange to them!) I have to admit, that the only really strange thing that I had the guts – or the ambition – to try was the balut, BUT Claire and I did snap some pictures a couple other local culinary curiosities.
bbq chicken anyone?? Thigh comes complete with foot still attached!

For example, many of us at home are very familiar with fried rice – you can usually get it with chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp, but here in Cambodia you can also get it with ants! Yup, that’s right. Fried rice with ants – a great source of protein!!
stir-fried ants
And the insect cuisine doesn't stop there! Some popular snacks to munch on at the market are crickets, beetles, and spiders - BIG spiders! Like 3 - 4 inches big!
Or you can try a fried embryonic chicken
Or maybe some deep fried frogs!
But if you’re not into any of that, you can go the safe route (like I did) and check out some of the more tame dishes on offer here in Cambodia. Despite some initial hiccups upon entering the country, Nick and I really enjoyed the food while we were here. There is certainly more variety available in Cambodia than there is in Laos and Cambodia’s cuisine was a nice departure from the familiarity of Lao and Thai food.

My favorite dish in Cambodia is their signature “Fish Amok”
Fish Amok in banana leaves

Amok, which can come with chicken, beef, pork, or fish, is a somewhat mild curry with it’s own special mix of Khmer spices (called Kroeung). It’s color can range from green to almost pinkish to brown, and can be mild or spicy. Every time I got it, it tasted a little bit different – but it was always delicious. Cambodia has a great selection of locally caught fresh water fish, so if you ask me, the fish amok is always the best choice.

The second signature dish of Cambodia is a beef dish called Lok Lak. It’s basically small cubes of beef served up in a tomato-based gravy with a side of rice. I only had it once or twice but I quite enjoyed it.
 beef luk lak served with a fried egg on top
And if you have to eat on the go, one of my absolute favorite things available here is sticky rice. It typically comes either wrapped up in long leaves or in a big tube of bamboo, and you can usually buy them from vendors in markets or around bus stations.
 Inside it is filled with glutinous sticky rice with a little bit of coconut and some soy beans and it makes for a fantastic snack when you’re eating on the go.
As with everywhere in Asia, noodles are ubiquitous and come in many varities.
 Nick about to induldge himself in some noodles from the market
Clair enjoying some noodles from a street vendor
more market-fresh noodles
With all of the tourists around, Phnom Pehn, Sihanoukville, and Siem Reap are rife with great options for the international pallat as well – from fantastic BBQ ribs to great Indian food to pizza and pasta. We even had some pretty decent Mexican food while we were here. All in all I’d give Cambodian food an enthusiastic two thumbs up.

1 comment:

  1. The fried spiders were a bit much - and couldn't they have breaded the ants? ha.

    Needless to say - you guys are going to really miss the food. Most of your food posts make me hungry.