Showcasing Khmer cooking delights is hard, but I’ll try…
First off, I would say Fish Amok served in banana leaves is the most traditional and popular dish to be found throughout the country. It’s an easy dish to make providing you have the right ingredients: white fish (I don’t think it really matters which one), fish sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, coconut milk, lemon grass, nhor leaves, galangal, turmeric, garlic, shallots and, of course, chillies! Although not really a spicy dish, it’s a creamy mix which mixed altogether and steamed tastes fantastic.
A popular place in Siem Reap to try Amok is Sugar Palm Restaurant on Taphul Street where they showcase great examples of Cambodian cooking.
Another favourite of mine is ‘Beef Lok Lak’ complete with a fried egg on top, served with the all important pepper and lime sauce. Mix some pepper and salt with freshly squeezed limes to get a unique sour tasting sauce. You can now get Lok Lak pizza in town which is worth a try, but no substitute for the real dish!
The pepper has to be the distinct intense flavours of Kampot Pepper which is alternatively served perfectly with steak or fresh crab from Kep. For a real treat why not try one of our favourite restaurants in Siem Reap, Abacus, who serve it with apple crumble and custard.
Fried chicken and cashew nuts is best tasted at Jasmine Lodge. I first tried this eight years ago and its taste just as good as that very first time.
Khmer curry is another traditional classic that needs to be tasted, served with either chicken or fish or pork. But what makes it truly unique is cooking it with sweet potatoes. Try it at the Khmer Kitchen in the old market area and you won’t be disappointed.
The bustling markets are a must do in any Cambodian town, Siem Reap’s old market is no exception. If you visit early in the morning it’s a hive of activity as morning shoppers stop by to pick up their family’s daily provisions.
As you walk about your every sense is heighted as you watch the vivid colours of exotic fruits, the hive of chatter from the local bartering and gossip, and you can’t miss the overwhelming smell of prahoc. All around old market you’ll find noodle stalls and breakfast bars where you’ll find a warming bowl of Bor Bor (a sort of rice porridge), which the locals will eat as comfort or healing bowl of soup.
Before you leave the market don’t forget to buy some fresh sweet fruits some of our favourites include papaya, mango and dragon fruits. If you’ll lucky the seller will cut it for you and give you a chilli dipping mix to add a savoury spark to it!
Some our favourite salads include these delicious fruits for example green papaya salad, found throughout South-east Asia it’s a typically a shake-up of garlic, chilli peppers, a zest of lime, green beans, basil, cilantro, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, dark brown sugar and roasted peanuts. You’ll often find this on one of the courses served at a traditional Khmer wedding.
We also love pomelo served with shrimps and green mango salad with smoked fish.
Don’t forget to buy bananas and coconuts too, you can make umpteen desserts with these tasty Cambodian staple foods. Here’s a few to try… Sticky Rice Cakes with Banana and Coconut, Coconut Ice Cream and Caramelised Bananas. And last but not least Banana Fingers with Sticky Rice and Coconut Milk served with a smile every Wednesday on the popular one-dollar night at Soria Moria Fusion Kitchen.
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