I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty the Cambodian Cuisine is. Usually, I don’t eat much fish but I quickly found out the average meal typically consists of rice, fish and plants cooked in many different ways, (even for breakfast) Many of the fish eaten in Cambodia are freshwater fish from the Tonlé Sap or from the Mekong. My favorite was grilled (the whole fish, head, tail and all) and a dish called Fish Amok or Amok Trey. It is a freshwater fish fillet (commonly snakehead fish, or Mekong catfish) that is covered with an aromatic kroeung (pounded shallots, lemongrass, garlic, kaffir lime), roasted crushed peanuts, coconut milk, and egg and then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed until it achieves a mousse-like texture. Yummm.

They also use many herbs (cardamom, tumeric, ginger) edible flowers (lotus flower,banana blossoms), stems(morning glory), leaves(kaffir lime), pickled vegetables and dipping sauces to enhance the flavors. One of my favorite dipping sauces was a mix of Kampot Pepper and lime juice. We dipped Beef Loc Lak (basically little steak tips) into it and it was amazing! I tried this for the first time at Vong Oung’s (a colleague of mine) house in Takeo, when his family graciously invited all 15 of us to lunch, while we were traveling there to visit a weaving village.

Rice is usually served with every meal and cooked many different ways. It can be served alongside dishes or soups, used as an ingredient or a sticky rice which is usually sweetened with coconut milk and palm sugar. Cambodia is the second largest area of wetlands and floodplains in Asia, which explains why fish and rice (which grow in water) are such an integral component to the cuisine.

Last but not least, we can’t forget the fruit, which was something I had every morning with breakfast or as a snack while we were traveling. It was a lot of fun trying so many different types of fruit, which were all delicious! Except for the durian, which none of us dared to try after hearing about its pungent smell. We had dragon fruit, rambutan, jackfruit, in addition to the common fruits, watermelon, pineapple, mango, bananas (which is pronounced ba’ -na -nas’, with the accent on the first and third syllables) and really fun to say. These fruits were also used in smoothies, which were a very common drink as they were cold and delicious!

Shrimp Shooters



rawwwww……….  I’m hungry too!



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