musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

Eating in Cambodia

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When it comes to cuisine in Southeast Asia, Thai food is probably the best known and favored, although Vietnamese food can make an equally strong case for being the favorite. I’m biased, but I also think that the food from Myanmar, or Burmese cuisine, is very underrated, not to mention very tasty. Malaysia and Indonesia also boast some great dishes, and we can’t forget Thailand’s neighbor to the north; Laos. I used to take trips to Vientiane just for the restaurants! Each of the cuisine in these countries is fairly distinctive, although they do share some common threads, not to mention the influence of Chinese and Indian cuisine.

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Perhaps the least known cuisine in the region is that found in Cambodia. We can perhaps blame the horrific reign of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s for stifling the growth and popularity, but now that the country is at peach and growing again, the kitchens of the country are busy preparing some very tasty dishes. Cambodian food may not have the “wow factor” or culinary hipness of its neighbors, but if you dig deeper through their edible offerings, you will discover some real unique treats — and I won’t even broach the subject of the edible insects that are served in some places!

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In Cambodia you will find fairly simple noodle and rice dishes everywhere, but don’t ignore the savory soups (some of the “samlor” varieties are very good, and just a plain bowl of pumpkin soup with a crunchy baguette will make my day) and spicy salads. For the carnivores, there are plenty of grilled fish, chicken, and beef dishes, including the famous amok fish curry, and my favorite, the beef lork lak. Add some of the tasty sauce (a simple but delightful mixture of lime juice, salt, and pepper) and get ready to polish off your plate!

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