Mastering the oldest cuisine in Southeast Asia – Exploring a cuisine with a long rich history

Although all Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese food seem to be similar, there are noticeable differences among their tastes, ingredients used as well as in the ways they are made. When it comes to the Cambodian cuisine it is one of the oldest in Southeast Asia and here are some facts that you never knew about it.

Image by: fan4tian2  via pixabay| CC0

The habit of sharing plates

At restaurants in Siem Reap, Cambodia fine dining does not mean a structured progression of dishes like in the Western culture. It’s more of a family dining style where the main meal comprises of a variety of dishes and the plates are to be shared among the members dining.

Cooking with fire

During your visit to Cambodia, go to Chi Restaurant & Bar and you may be surprised to witness their habit of cooking with fire. Barbequed fish and grilled meat will catch your taste buds over there because unlike those at Thai streets, you may find a different and unique taste in them.

Fermentation is quite popular

From fruits and vegetables to seafood and fish, Cambodians ferment them all! This is how they make their most popular ‘prahok’ dish, which is known to be cheese by the locals, but which smells more like fish than cheese!

 Flowers are edible in meals

Flowers are normally used on top of dishes to add a decorative effect to the meal. But Cambodian cuisine has edible flowers in its meals! They eat flowers raw and in cooked form too! An interesting fact indeed!

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A Quick Guide to Cambodian Cuisine – An Asian Cuisine to Relish In

Cambodian cuisine, more commonly known as Khmer cuisine, is the traditional cuisine of the people of Cambodia. The following is a little more information on the Khmer cuisine that might interest you.

 

In comparison to south-east Asian cuisine

As one of the oldest living food cultures, Cambodian cuisine is usually overshadowed by the Thailand and Vietnam cuisines. The cuisine does have a mix of other cuisines and their flavours; however, it stands out as a cuisine of its own. A mix of local and international flavours is evident in Cambodian cuisine.

 

Similarities with south-east Asian cuisine

Certain dishes that are famous in Vietnam are also quite popular in Colombia, such as iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk and baguette-type sandwiches.

Flavours in Cambodian cuisine

You must brace yourself for different kinds of flavours in Cambodian cuisine, some that may need some getting used to such as Prahok, which is a crushed, salted and fermented fish paste that’s a common seasoning which has a strong and salty taste. Rice is found in almost all dishes and most main courses also contain fish or shellfish. There are more than a dozen different types of rice that’s used!

 

Dishes you shouldn’t miss

When you’re in Cambodia, Fish Amok is a must try as it is considered by some to be the national dish. Bok Svay, Tuk Meirc, Samlor Karkoo and Num Banchok are a few other dishes to try. Drop by at Chi Restaurant & Bar and numerous other restaurants in Siem Reap to relish on these amazing dishes!

File:Cambodian Fish Amok.jpg

Stefan Fussan, Cambodian Fish Amok, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Exploring the Culture Through Food – An Insight into Cambodian Culture

Located in between two renowned culinary heavyweights, Thailand and Vietnam, Khmer cuisine makes a statement on its own. The local flavours you get to explore are unique and full of surprises. This journey of discovering the culture through Cambodian food isn’t to be missed.

 

Amok

Commonly referred to as the emblem of Cambodian food, amok is the national dish of Cambodia. There are various versions of amok, however, fish amok is the most popular! Found easily in almost all restaurants in Siem Reap, this delicacy is a creamy and rich curry like sauce made from Chinese ginger, turmeric root, garlic, shallots and lemongrass, served with a side of rice.

 

Lap Khmer

This dish is a lime marinated beef salad. The thinly sliced pieces of beef are either cooked or seared and dressed with lemongrass, shallots, fish sauce and topped with chillies!

 

Kdam Chea

Fried crab is what this dish is, famous in the seaside town of Kep. It’s worth visiting this seaside town just for this dish, however, restaurants such as Chi Restaurant & Bar serve similar amazing seafood dishes if you cannot travel all the way!

 

Cha Houy Teuk

A jelly dessert that’s a favourite among the locals; bright coloured jelly, combined with sago, coconut cream and bleached mung beans, this dessert is served with shaved ice!

 

Kuyteav

A breakfast speciality that rises above the rest; Kuyteay. A tasty broth made from pork bones with vermicelli on top along with a few vegetables and garnish, kuyteav isn’t your usual breakfast! Make sure you savour this during your trip to Cambodia.

Katieu.jpg

PwordissonyKatieu, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

 

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