This homemade Cambodian chilli salt recipe makes a popular condiment eaten with fruit in Cambodia, in particular sour fruits. Consisting of chilli, salt and sugar, it can be sprinkled on fresh fruit to give it a kick or presented in a bowl as a dipping salt. It’s also fantastic on the rim of a cocktail glass!
Our homemade Cambodian chilli salt recipe will make you one of the most popular condiments in Cambodia and while the Khmer name translates to ‘salt chilli’, this condiment actually consists of salt, sugar and chilli, in varying proportions depending on the market or street food vendor. But before I tell you more about this Cambodian chilli salt, I have a favour to ask.
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Now let me tell you all about this homemade Cambodian chilli sugar salt recipe.
Cambodian Chilli Salt Recipe for Spicing Up Everything from Fruit to Cocktails
This Cambodian chilli sugar salt recipe makes one of Cambodia’s most beloved condiments. While people can easily make this at home, Cambodians love nothing more than spotting a vendor of sour fruits on their street or in a park, and hurrying over to choose a selection of fruit sprinkled with chilli salt or fruit doused in a fiery chilli sauce.
Sour fruits sprinkled with chilli salt, or, more accurately ‘chilli sugar salt’, is such a popular snack in Cambodia that it’s sold absolutely everywhere, from market stalls and supermarket shelves to the big round baskets of mobile vendors on bicycles, who do their rounds selling their sour fruits in particular neighbourhoods most afternoons. Fruit doused in chilli sauce is increasingly popular.
Market sellers and mobile vendors will sell the best quality condiments and sauces to beat their competitors, so this is where you’ll find the kind of condiment most like our recipe, made with sea salt, rock sugar, and freshly ground dried chillies, or even fresh chillies.
By contrast, supermarkets will sell small plastic packets of a mix of table salt, fine-grained sugar and either chilli flakes or fresh flakes, and the mix will be wet because it’s been sitting in the pack of pre-sliced fruit on the shelves for days. Avoid these like the plague if you’re visiting Cambodia.
Tips to Making this Cambodian Chilli Salt Recipe
Just a couple of tips to making this Cambodian chilli salt recipe as it’s super easy, so easy you need just three ingredients: rock sugar, store-bought red chilli flakes or dried red chillies ground into flakes, and sea salt.
You will need a mortar and pestle. You could try blending it, but we find a mortar and pestle works just fine. It’s the way it’s always been done, it’s quick and easy, and easy to clean.
While we’re primarily sharing this Cambodian chilli sugar salt for use as a condiment sprinkled on fruit because we’re testing it for our Cambodian cookbook, I have to say that this is also fantastic on the rim of a cocktail glass.
This Cambodian chilli salt will give most fruit cocktails a welcome kick. Make your cocktail first, then set up a dish of water, then a dish with your Cambodian chilli sugar salt.
Turn your glass upside down and dip the rim of the glass into the water then into the chilli salt, turning it back and forth, then pour your cocktail into your glass. So good!
Cambodian Chilli Salt Recipe
- ¼ cup rock sugar
- ¼ cup chilli flakes or dried red chillies - pounded to flakes
- ½ cup sea salt
- To a large Southeast Asian granite mortar and pestle, add the rock sugar and pound to the same granulated texture of the sea salt, so it still has shape and crunch. Stop pounding before it gets to a powder.
- Add the chilli flakes to the mortar – or if you’re starting from scratch, add the dried red chillies, which you’ll need to pound to reduce to flakes. Note: if you prefer mild heat levels, then pound the chillies separately and pour them through a mesh sieve that’s fine enough to catch the seeds, before pounding the sugar.
- Lastly, add the sea salt to the mortar, and pound everything just enough to combine, taking care not to grind the mix to a powder.
- Use a large spoon and funnel to transfer your chilli sugar salt to a jar or air-tight container for storage, scoop some into a dish if serving soon, or sprinkle some directly onto a platter of fresh fruit if serving immediately to give the condiment time to soak into the fruit. Don’t forget the toothpicks.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make this Cambodian chilli salt recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.