Cambodia's Cuisine


Cambodian cuisine is all about a simplicity and freshness that is balanced with contrasting flavours and textures. A typical meal will consist of three or four separate dishes that together create sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavours. Widespread poverty in the 1970s saw Cambodians eating just about anything—if it moved, they ate it—so there are many interesting dishes like sautéed grasshoppers, deep fried tarantulas, and stuffed frogs for the adventurous-spirited. More palatable perhaps are dishes like fried noodles, soups, stir fries, salads and curries and of course rice, which is Cambodia's staple food. Dishes are flavoured with turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, ginger and kaffir lime leaves.

Prahok, a fish paste with a pungetn flavour, is used in many Cambodian dishes and is an acquired taste to the Western palate, adding a salty tang to any dish. The flavour of this paste is what distinguishes Cambodian cuisine from its neighbours. It can be used in a variety of ways, such as fried or mixed with meat or chilli, snf it's also eaten as a dip, covered with banana leaves and cooked under a fire, or used in soups and stir-fried dishes.

This popular Cambodian speciality is a curried coconut milk dish that is similar to that found in Thailand, but somewhat less spicy. The biggest difference between amok in Cambodia and that found in Thailand or Vietnam is its use of the local herb slok ngor, which adds a distinctly bitter taste. Amok is made with chicken, fish, or shrimp and vegetables, and is served with rice. In some upscale restaurants it is steamed in a banana leaf and served as a mousse rather than a curry.

Machu Kroung
This healthy sweet and sour soup is actually more like a curry and blends the flavours of fried peanuts, lemongrass and saffron. The dish is decorated with colourful chilli flakes to pack extra punch and makes for a fulfilling, savoury dish that will please your tastebuds.   


Pork kebabs; noodles; corn cakes; deep fried spiders; white duck eggs...street food in Cambodia ranges from the mouth watering to the stomach turning to the truly bizarre. Whatever your palate can handle, street food is common throughout the country and is remarkably inexpensive. Make sure to only order street food from vendors whose food is clean and fresh, as well as cooked right in front of you.

Nom Banh Chok
This beloved Cambodian street food is typically eaten for breakfast and is normally sold by women carrying baskets of the ingredients hanging from a pole balanced on their shoulders. The noodles are made from pounded rice topped with a fish-based green curry infused with lemongrass, turmeric and kaffir lime leaves. Then, a sprinkling of mint leaves, bean sprouts, cucumbers, green beans and banana flowers are added for a deliciously fresh crunchy texture. Be sure to grab some of this during your trip for a truly authentic taste.

Mi Char
Fried noodles are a cheap and tasty street food available from noodle sellers all over Cambodia. There are numerous options for how to eat your friend noodles: instant noodles from ramen packages, short, thick rice noodles or soft, yellow egg noodles. The noodles are flash stir-fried with fish sauce, soy sauce, beef and greens, then an egg is fried with the mixture. Try it with the traditional mild, sweet chilli sauce.

Num Pang
For something a little Western with a Cambodian twist, try num pang. These baguettes are a lasting impression from the French colonisation of Cambodia and are filled with both Eastern and Western ingredients. Sample the sandwiches with pâté, butter, homemade mayonnaise, a spicy red chilli paste, pork meat, pickled green papaya and carrot. For a true Cambodian flavour, sprinkle a bit of soy and fish sauce over the entire concoction.