Our collection of 65 Cambodian recipes to learn to cook this year includes everything from the Cambodian curry pastes or kroeungs that form the basis of so many Khmer dishes to Cambodian street food favourites, traditional Khmer soups and stews, Cambodian-Chinese stir-fry dishes, Cambodia’s famous steamed fish amok, along with Khmer desserts.
We’re still cooking our way through the pandemic here in Siem Reap in northern Cambodia as we test recipes for our epic, original, first-of-its-kind Cambodian cookbook and Cambodian culinary history which I’ve been researching and Terence and I have been developing since 2013.
Everyone knows how to cook Thai food and Vietnamese food but unfortunately far fewer people know Cambodian food – and I’m not just talking about cooking it; far fewer people have even eaten Cambodian compared to Thai food or Vietnamese food.
So if you’re keen to discover a new cuisine that we guarantee will surprise and delight you, we encourage you to work your way through our collection of 65 Cambodian recipes to learn to cook.
Many of these Cambodian recipes are dishes that we’ve been cooking and tweaking over our years living here in Cambodia, while others are recipes that we’re recipe-testing for our Cambodian cookbook.
We’re still seeking patrons for our Cambodia cookbook project on Patreon and you can support it for as little as the price of a bowl of noodles. If you’re interested in culinary history, particularly that of Cambodia and Southeast Asia, please do check out our project.
Our cookbook documents recipes by Cambodian cooks from around the country and shares their stories, while the culinary history tells the long rich story of Cambodian food for the first time. If you’re not in a position to support, please share the links with people you think might be interested and may be able to help with a monthly pledge starting at as low as US$2. Every little bit helps!
Cambodian Recipes You Need to Learn to Cook
Please do let us know if you make any of our 65 Cambodian recipes to learn to cook this year as we’d love to know how they turn out for you.
Cambodian Kroeung Curry Paste Recipe
The first Cambodian recipes to learn to cook should be the Cambodian kroeungs. Kroeung means ‘paste’ in Khmer and it is a freshly pounded herb and spice paste in the same vein as the curry pastes used in Thai cooking. With a base of fragrant lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime zest, turmeric, garlic, and shallots, kroeungs have fresh flavour notes. You can use a mortar and pestle to pound the paste by hand (we reckon it tastes better pounded by hand), but you can also make it in a blender. There are five kroeung curry pastes that are regularly used in Cambodian cooking and they all have different uses, from barbecue marinades to soup and curry bases. The base herb and spice paste is the yellow kroeung (kroeung samlor m’chou), below. Then there’s a green kroeung (kroeung prâhoeur), which uses the leaves of the lemongrass, not just the root. There’s the red kroeung (kroeung samlor kari) and a paste called ‘k’tis kroeung’ (kroeung samlor k’tis), as well as the saraman kroeung (kroeung samlor saraman) for the Cambodian Saraman curry, below. This introduction to kroeungs includes a recipe for the red kroeung.
Khmer Yellow Kroeung Recipe for Kroeung Samlor Machou
As we said above, the first Cambodian recipes to learn to cook should be the Cambodian kroeung recipes, the basis of so many Cambodian dishes. This yellow kroeung paste is the first paste you should learn to make as this is the base kroeung. The Khmer yellow kroeung is used as a marinade for charcoal-grilled beef skewers and is used in stir-fries (look for ‘char kreoung’ on a menu or in a cookbook), stews and soups (‘samlar m’chou’ means ‘sour soup’), such as samlor machou kroeung sach ko, a sour beef soup with morning glory, and in fish amok or amok trei, the famous Cambodian soufflé-like steamed fish curry. It’s also used in prahok k’tis, the ubiquitous Khmer dip made with prahok (fermented fish), minced pork, coconut milk, and pea eggplants that’s eaten with crunchy vegetable crudites. The yellow kroeung paste gets its colour from the turmeric and lemongrass stems.
Cambodian Chicken Rice Porridge Recipe for Borbor Sach Moan
This Cambodian chicken rice porridge recipe for borbor sach moan, Cambodia’s congee, is another one of our Cambodian recipes to learn to cook if you want to get a taste of Cambodian cuisine, especially Cambodian breakfasts. Called Khmer borbor sach moan, this chicken rice porridge is actually a dish of Chinese origin and part of the Cambodian-Chinese culinary heritage rather than a Khmer dish, but it’s become a comfort food favourite of all Cambodians. Our Cambodian chicken rice porridge recipe for borbor sach moan, the Cambodia take on Chinese congee is a classic Cambodian-Chinese comfort food favourite that is eaten at any time of the day. Unlike neighbouring Thailand where pork is the main ingredient of rice porridges, here in Cambodia you’ll find anything from chicken, pork, fish, dried fish, seafood, snails, and frog legs used in different renditions of this dish. You’ll also see an array of condiments, from dried fish floss and vegetable pickles to the condiments we love to use, such as fish sauce, chilli flakes, chilli oil, and fresh fragrant herbs.
Authentic Nom Banh Chok Recipe for Cambodia’s Beloved Khmer Noodles
This authentic nom banh chok recipe for Cambodia’s beloved Khmer Noodles makes nom banh chok samlor proher, a popular breakfast dish of freshly-made rice noodles doused in a yellow-green coconut-based fish gravy that at its best is richer and creamier than other iterations of this dish. It’s garnished with fragrant herbs, seasonal vegetables, edible flowers, and wild herbs. Nom banh chok refers to both the fresh ever-so-lightly-fermented rice noodles that are still made daily by hand by artisanal noodle makers all over Cambodia, just as they’ve always been made, as well as the delicious breakfast noodle dish, comprised of the rice noodles doused in a soup, ‘gravy’ or curry, served with seasonal vegetables, and garnished with fragrant herbs, foraged leaves, and edible flowers. Cambodia’s national dish for so many Cambodians – indicative by the fact that locals translate the dish to foreigners as ‘Khmer noodles’ – nom banh chok has long been ‘Cambodia in a bowl’ for me and is perhaps my most favourite Cambodian food and one of my favourite Southeast Asian noodle dishes.
Classic Kuy Teav Recipe for Cambodia’s Favourite Chicken Noodle Soup
This classic Cambodian kuy teav recipe makes the chicken version of the popular breakfast noodle soup and one of Cambodia’s most beloved street food dishes called kuy teav sach moan – ‘sach moan’ is chicken meat in Khmer – but you’ll also spot kuy teav sach chrouk with pork (chrouk) and kuy teav sach ko with beef (ko) on menus. I’ve called this a classic Cambodian kuy teav recipe – rather than, say, an authentic Cambodian kuy teav recipe as what’s ‘authentic’ is obviously particular to a specific time, place and experience – although I could also have called it a traditional Cambodian kuy teav recipe, I suppose. The point is to document a kuy teav recipe that’s in the restrained style that you would typically come across at a market or street food stall or simple local eatery in Cambodia, compared to the luxuriant bowls of the Khmer diaspora. A good clear flavourful stock is what distinguishes this soup rather than a bowl filled with a variety of or an abundance of ingredients. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, things are just done differently here in Cambodia.
Phnom Penh Noodle Soup Recipe for Kuy Teav Phnom Penh
This Phnom Penh noodle soup recipe makes kuy teav Phnom Penh, named after Cambodia’s capital, where it’s a popular breakfast soup. Unlike the classic kuy teav, which is a fairly restrained soup with a few ingredients, this traditional breakfast soup is known for its abundance. It is also one for pork lovers. ‘Phnom Penh noodles’ as it’s also simply known, is distinguished by its pork broth, dried rice noodles (kuy teav), minced pork, plump prawns, and garnishes, but it can also include any combination of pork loin, pork belly, pork ribs, pork blood cake, pork liver, and other pork offal bits. The other distinguishing ingredients are a few lettuce leaves (romaine is favoured here in Cambodia), bean sprouts, fresh coriander, and fried garlic and fried shallots. It’s customary to serve some lime wedges on the side, and chilli flakes, chilli sauce, fish sauce, and salt and pepper on the table. The soup also has a cousin in Vietnam’s southern city Saigon, called Hủ tiếu Nam Vang, ‘Nam Vang being the name for Phnom Penh.
Chive and Pork Dumplings Recipe for the Cambodian-Chinese Take on Jiaozi
This Cambodian chive and pork dumplings recipe makes the Cambodian-Chinese rendition of jiaozi, the addictive Chinese dumplings that come in myriad forms, the filling, folding, shape, and pleating distinguishing one dumpling from the next. Boiled, steamed and fried, dumplings are cooked all over China and in countries in Asia where the Chinese travelled, traded and emigrated, including Cambodia. Dumplings have been filling stomachs for at least 1,700 years. That’s how old the world’s oldest dumplings were when discovered by archaeologists in an ancient tomb in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Well-preserved, the wheat-flour dumplings looked pretty much like dumplings do today, crescent-shaped and stuffed with meat. Here in Cambodia, chive and pork dumplings are also crescent-shaped, rustic, with thick dough, and no fancy pleating. The Chinese-Cambodian chive and pork dumplings are packed with chives, with just a little ground pork used. I’ve tweaked the traditional recipe, adding scallions and garlic to the mix, and used more fatty pork mince, so these dumplings are more flavourful and juicier.
Classic Cambodian Pork and Prahok Omelette Recipe
Our recipe for a classic Cambodian omelette with minced pork and prahok or trei proma, two types of Cambodia’s beloved fermented fish pastes, makes a savoury egg dish that locals love to eat for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or a snack. Prahok and trei proma are two types of fermented fish that Cambodians love (I’m also a fan), but which foreign visitors – the most enthusiastic foodies aside – struggle to appreciate. Never fear, fish sauce is here, and it’s a perfectly suitable substitute. I love to sprinkle Cambodia’s fantastic fish sauce (teuk trei) dipping sauce all over this dish, but if you combine fish sauce instead of prahok or trei proma with your eggs, then you can douse a chilli sauce such as Sriracha or even soy sauce over your omelette. Southeast Asian omelettes tend to be either thin and crispy or soft and puffy, however, this is somewhere in between that and a Spanish tortilla. They’re also nearly always brown, whether a light golden brown or a deep warm brown, and the eggs are well-done. While I have a preference for eggs that are less cooked (see the omelette recipe below), I do love this classic Cambodian omelette recipe with minced pork and prahok or trei proma.
Cambodian Saom Omelette Recipe
Our Cambodian saom omelette recipe is inspired by a popular herb omelette that Cambodians eat for breakfast, lunch or a filling snack. It’s a delicious herbaceous eggs dish made with the beloved garlicky Cambodian green, also written as sa’om, which is foraged and farmed. Sa’om is known in English as climbing wattle or acacia leaf and in Thailand it’s called cha-om and in Myanmar it’s su pout ywet. It’s the feathery shoots of the senegalia pennata, also called acacia pennata. Saom is farmed on a small scale in Cambodia, but it’s mostly foraged. Cambodians were foragers well before it was fashionable and their natural instinct is to pluck something from the yard, the neighbour’s yard, the side of the road, or anywhere in the village where things grow and sa’om is no exception. Drive through a Cambodian village when saom is in season and you’ll often see the locals out with a basket and scissors to snip saom from its shrub, which grows in a tangle and has long hard thorns. When you buy a bunch of saom from the market you need to take care, as there’ll be tiny thorns on the feathery stalks. I said our Cambodian saom omelette recipe is ‘inspired by’ the traditional saom omelette, because Cambodians like their omelettes thinner, crispier and browner, however, I think the sa’om tastes wonderful done in the style of a classic French omelette.
Cambodian Steamed Eggs Recipe for a Siem Reap Street Food Favourite
Our easy Cambodian steamed eggs recipe will make you a popular street food snack. Locals here in Siem Reap love to eat this from tiny plastic stools as the sun goes down on Road 60, an eat street cum market on the edge of town that still remains something of a local secret. These scrummy steamed eggs with spring onions, coriander, chilli, salt, and pepper, are garnished with fresh coriander and crunchy deep fried shallots and garlic. More rustic than the Chinese steamed eggs that are often compared to a silky egg custard, this Cambodian street food snack probably began life as a Cambodian-Chinese dish, however, they’re now cooked and eaten by all Cambodians, and have many iterations. So quick and easy to come together, incredibly versatile, and easily elevated by the ingredients, presentation and condiments, these steamed eggs make a fantastic breakfast or brunch dish for you to cook on a weekend.
Cambodian Pork and Rice Recipe for Bai Sach Chrouk
This Cambodian pork and rice recipe makes bai sach chrouk, a popular Cambodian breakfast dish that is a classic found all over Cambodia, and it’s another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to cook if you want to get a feel for Cambodian breakfasts. Sold at bustling morning markets and busy roadside stalls all over the country, thin pork strips that have been marinating overnight are grilled and served with steamed rice and a quick pickle of carrot and daikon. Along with the noodle soups kuy teav and nom banh chok, and the rice porridge borbor, above, it’s the most ubiquitous Cambodian breakfast dish. Rise early with the locals when you’re in Cambodia and you’ll spot a pork and rice stall on almost every block of nearly every town and city in Cambodia. You’ll spot the plumes of smoke, hear the pork fat sizzling, and smell the sweet aromas first. As the pork and rice stalls typically start lighting their grills soon after dawn, the cook will marinate the pork overnight and we recommend you do the same.
Num Pang Pâté Recipe for Cambodia’s Version of Vietnamese Bánh Mì
Our Cambodian num pang pate recipe makes Cambodia’s version of Vietnam’s bánh mì pâté – a French baguette, bread roll or sandwich filled with a thick spread of rustic French country-style pâté, along with generous layers of cold cuts, crunchy cucumber, fresh aromatic herbs such as coriander, basil and mint, and creamy French mayonnaise – and it’s another one of the Cambodian recipes to learn to cook if you want to get a taste of Cambodian street food. Some Cambodian families still make their own pâté, although these days they are more likely to buy it. Cambodian street food cooks usually make their own rustic French-style pâté, which is one of the things that distinguishes their num pang pâté from the rest. But we also have Cambodian friends who love buying a jar of pâté from the supermarket to eat with a freshly-baked baguette. If you want to make your own French pâté or terrine, then we highly recommend reading Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s excellent book Charcuterie, The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.
Cambodian Grilled Pork Meatballs with Rice Paper, Noodles, Salad and Pickles
This grilled pork meatballs recipe with rice paper, rice noodles, salad, and pickles makes a sharing style dish popular in Southern Cambodia and it’s another of our Cambodian recipes we reckon you should learn to cook this year. Best served on a platter so your family or guests can help themselves, it’s a DIY dish that people can eat as they wish, wrapping and rolling the meatballs, salad and pickles in the rice paper. Our grilled pork meatballs recipe with rice paper, vermicelli rice noodles, fresh salad vegetables and fruit, a quick pickle of carrot and daikon, and a dipping sauce, makes a delicious sharing plate that can be served family-style in the centre of the table as an appetiser or main course or as part of a larger feast of Vietnamese food, Cambodian food or Southeast Asian food. While our Cambodian friends from Phnom Penh and Southern Cambodia would call this a Cambodian dish, our Vietnamese friends would argue it is Vietnamese. The reality is that it’s one of a genre of dishes consumed in both countries; dishes that have crossed borders, existed before there were borders, and travelled over land and ocean, because you’ll also find variations of this dish not only in Cambodia and Vietnam, but in the Vietnam and Cambodian diasporas.
Cambodian Fish Cakes With Lemongrass and Kaffir Lime Recipe for Prohet Trei Kroeung
Our Cambodian fish cakes recipe makes deliciously-light fish cakes that are fragrant with lemongrass and kaffir lime, and have a little crunch. Easy to make, these fish cakes are terrific as a snack, appetiser, picnic stuffer, or finger food if you’re entertaining. In Khmer, they’re called prohet trei kroeung – also written as proheut, prohat, prahat, and prahet, which refers to the form and can describe a patty, meatball or even a sausage, while trei means fish and kroeung is a Cambodian herb and spice paste. There are variants of these fish cakes found right across Southeast Asia – you’re probably more familiar with Thai fish cakes – but these are made with a Cambodian kroeung or herb and spice paste that’s combined with firm white fish, seasoned and fried. In Cambodia, you’ll find two types of fish cakes. The most common, sold at markets and street food stalls across the country, are flat as a pancake and have a chewy, tight texture, but this Cambodian fish cakes recipe makes a more sophisticated version, with more ingredients and preparation. While you’ll see similar fish cakes in Thailand and Vietnam sold at market and street food stalls, in Cambodia this type of fish cake is more typically found in kitchens of middle-class homes and at restaurants.
Mee Kola Recipe for the Vegetarian Noodles of Cambodia’s Kola People
Our mee Kola recipe makes a delicious single-bowl dish of Kola noodles made with rice stick noodles stir-fried in soy sauce, served with papaya cucumber pickle, bean sprouts, crunchy vegetables, fragrant herbs, and crushed peanuts, which you combine altogether with a dressing in your bowl. It’s addictive, easy to make, and it’s one of my favourite Southeast Asian noodle dishes. Mee Kola translates to Kola noodles – ‘mee’ are noodles and this is a noodle dish of the Kola people (also known as the Kula and Gula people), a Cambodian ethnic minority people who originally came from Burma (Myanmar) and settled in the province of Pailin in northwest Cambodia to mine gem stones. Their history is fascinating. Families of Kola heritage are now scattered all over Cambodia, including here in Siem Reap. So, no, Kola noodles are not made with Coca Cola, if that’s what you’re wondering – which is nothing to be embarrassed about, as many visitors to Cambodia leave with that impression! Our recipe for Kola noodles is modelled on a dish made by a Kola family here in Siem Reap and it’s super easy to make.
Cambodian Fried Spring Rolls Recipe for Crispy Deep-Fried Egg Rolls
Our Cambodian fried spring rolls recipe makes a traditional crispy deep-fried spring roll – or egg roll, as our American readers call them – of the kind you’ll find sold in markets and street food stalls as a snack and served in restaurants as an appetiser here in Cambodia. The fried spring rolls are filled with minced pork, dried shrimp, carrot, garlic, and daikon radish (or taro), and are seasoned with fish sauce, Kampot pepper, sea salt, and palm sugar. We also have a tangy Cambodian fried spring roll dipping sauce recipe that you can make to serve with them. Easy to make, once you get the hang of the rolling technique, these traditional Cambodian fried spring rolls can be adapted to your taste. While the origin of the spring roll is Chinese, and in Cambodia specifically its provenance is the Chinese-Cambodian community, these fried spring rolls are eaten by everyone these days. When you taste them you’ll realise why!
Cambodian Fried Spring Roll Dipping Sauce Recipe
This Cambodian fried spring roll dipping sauce recipe for teuk trei pa’em in Khmer makes the quintessential condiment for the classic Cambodian fried spring rolls with pork and shrimp, above, which our American readers call egg rolls. The tangy-sweet fish sauce-based dipping sauce is made with fish sauce, vinegar, palm sugar, shallots, garlic and carrot and it is an absolute cinch to make. It is so easy to make that you may never buy a bottled spring roll dipping sauce again.
Authentic Cambodian Lort Cha Recipe
This authentic Cambodian lort cha recipe makes the popular snack of rice pin noodles stir-fried with garlic, bean sprouts and scallions or chives in a sauce of palm sugar, fish sauce and dark soy sauce. ‘Lort’, also written as ‘lot’ in the Khmer language of Cambodia, are the short rice-flour noodles, and ‘cha’, also written as ‘chha’ and ‘char’, means to stir-fry. Lort cha is a Cambodian-Chinese dish, originating in Cambodia’s Sino-Khmer communities, and research suggests it’s Cantonese. Its Chinese provenance explains why you’ll see dishes similar to lort cha right across Southeast Asia using these noodles – also called rice pin noodles, silver pin noodles, silver needle noodles, rat’s tail noodles, and rat noodles. One of the typical dishes you might see in the region is Malaysia’s stir-fried loh see fun with minced pork and salted radish. In Cambodia, the noodles are typically eaten with a soft fried egg, a liberal squirt of chilli sauce, and perhaps a chive cake or two, which lort cha cooks fry up on the same pan. ‘Authentic’ is such a loaded term, of course, and here I am using to describe a Cambodian-Chinese dish of Cantonese provenance. So what makes this authentic then? Simply for the fact that it makes the kind of lort cha cooked and sold at markets all over Cambodia – not the kind I’ve spotted on a few food sites that have a mile-long list of ingredients.
Cambodian Mee Katang Recipe for Quick and Easy Cantonese Noodles
This Cambodian mee katang recipe makes a delicious Chinese-Cambodian dish of wok-fried wide rice noodles, browned by dark soy sauce, and stir-fried with marinated pork, carrot, Chinese broccoli, and omelette. Called ‘mee Kontang’ in Khmer, which means Cantonese noodles, but pronounced ‘mee Katang’, these charred noodles are a cinch to make and super versatile. While not as ubiquitous in Cambodia as noodle soup dishes such as nom banh chok and kuy teav, nor as popular as wok-fried noodles such as lort cha, mee Kola, chha kuy teav (stir-fried rice noodles), or mee Siem (crispy deep-fried noodles with pork and fermented soy bean), you will still spot mee Katang at street food carts and on restaurant menus. A descendant of the Cantonese dish chow fun, mee Katang is made with the same fresh, flat, wide rice noodles called hor fun, which are stir-fried in light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and oyster sauce to give the noodles colour as much as flavour. In Cambodia, mee katang recipes typically include Chinese broccoli (kai lan or gai lan), carrot and scrambled eggs, and while we love mee Katang with marinated pork, the noodles can be stir-fried with beef or chicken, shrimps or mixed seafood.
Cambodian Fried Rice Recipe for the Best Bai Cha
This Cambodian fried rice recipe makes the best Cambodian bai cha (fried rice), a lighter version of the popular Chinese stir-fry rice dish that we’ve ever been cooking and eating here over the years and it’s another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to make this year. Thanks to many centuries of Chinese trade and migration, Chinese fried rice is found across Southeast Asia. In Cambodia, there are many variations, bai char being the most ubiquitous. This Cambodian fried rice recipe makes bai cha (also written as bai tcha, bai char, bai chaa, bay cha) or fried rice – ‘bai’ is rice and ‘cha’ is to stir-fry – and it’s the most popular Chinese-style fried rice in Cambodia. It’s distinguished by two quintessential breakfast ingredients, sausage and eggs, and Siem Reap sausage in particular, the local take on lap cheong, the Cantonese name for a smoked, sweetened, red Chinese sausage. There seems to be as many Cambodian fried rice recipes as there are versions of Chinese-style fried rice across Southeast Asia.
Shrimp Fried Rice With Shrimp Paste Recipe for Bai Cha Kapi
This shrimp fried rice with shrimp paste recipe makes Cambodia’s bai char kapi, a classic fried rice distinguished by sweet plump prawns and the pungency of shrimp paste. If you love the salty, funky flavours of shrimp paste and fish sauce, you’ll love this. You don’t? Then leave out the shrimp paste and you’ve got a fantastic shrimp fried rice. Bai char – which you’ll also see written as bai cha, bai chaa, bai chha, bai tcha, and bay cha – is fried rice (‘bai’ is rice and ‘cha’ is to fry or stir-fry) and kapi is shrimp paste. I’ll deal with the difference between shrimps and prawns below. You won’t see this shrimp fried rice with shrimp paste on menus all over Cambodia, as most Cambodians prefer fish sauce and their beloved fermented fish paste called prahok to shrimp paste. However, you’ll come across this fried rice dish wherever you find shrimp paste made and sold, whether it’s made from river prawns or prawns from the sea. There’s an infinite array of Cambodian fried rice dishes, with each home cook, street food vendor, banquet cook, and restaurant chef adding their own little twists and tweaks to the classic Chinese-Cambodian fried rice, and this shrimp fried rice with shrimp paste recipe is just one of many variations. One of the reasons that fried rice is so popular here is that many Cambodians still cook rice in a big pot over an open fire, especially out in the countryside – not everyone can afford electric rice cookers, nor does every village have electricity – so there’re nearly always leftover rice after a big meal.
Chinese Scallion Pancakes Made with Sourdough Discard
This Chinese scallion pancakes recipe makes cong you bing (葱油饼) or num sleuk ka’tem in Khmer. Scallion pancakes originated in China, yet you’ll find them right across Asia. Get on Google and you’ll find Taiwanese scallion pancakes recipes, Korean scallion pancakes recipes, and so on. In Cambodia, you’ll spot Chinese scallion pancakes at Chinese-Cambodian eateries where you’ll also find your rustic Chinese dumplings and hand-pulled noodles, made to order. I published this Chinese scallion pancakes recipe at the start of the pandemic, when we were all staying at home quarantine cooking and immersing ourselves in cooking projects. Terence was doing a lot of sourdough baking because he found it so deeply satisfying and I was using his sourdough discard to make everything from crackers to crumpets, all of this you’ll find in this round-up of our sourdough starter discard recipes. You’ll find countless Chinese scallion pancake recipes online and while this recipe might not make scallion pancakes like a Chinese grandmother might make, they are nevertheless delicious and dead-easy: they take 10 minutes from start to finish.
Sour Beef Soup with Morning Glory Recipe for Samlor Machou Kroeung Sach Ko
My Cambodian sour beef soup with morning glory recipe makes a wonderful green vegetable-driven broth called samlor machou kroeung sach ko in Khmer. It’s super-easy to make and if you’re not a fan of tang you can easily adjust the seasonings to suit your taste. Soups are comforting and we all need comfort right now so this is definitely one of the Cambodian recipes to learn to cook this year. Unlike Cambodian breakfast soups, which are eaten individually, soups such as this Cambodian sour beef soup with morning glory are traditionally shared. In the villages and countryside the soup might be eaten alone with rice, whereas in the cities the soup might be one of several or a handful of dishes that might include stir-fried vegetables, perhaps a salad, maybe grilled fish, or perhaps even a curry, and, of course, always loads of rice. This is a super easy soup to make, especially if you make the Khmer yellow kroeung first (recipe above).
Cambodian Outside of the Pot Soup Recipe for Chrouk Krao Chhnang
This Cambodian outside of the pot soup recipe makes chrouk krao chhnang in Khmer, a light salad of a soup, often eaten cool or at room temperature, that is made for the hot Northern Southeast Asian ‘summer’ of March-April, when the region experiences some of its highest temperatures. Our Cambodian outside of the pot soup recipe is another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to cook simply for the fact that it’s just so easy. Interestingly, it is perhaps one of the most reinterpreted, deconstructed and reconstructed of all Cambodian dishes that you’ll find on gastronomic tasting menus at Siem Reap’s finest Cambodian restaurants. From chef Joannès Rivière at Cuisine Wat Damnak to the Kimsan ‘twins’ who helm Embassy, from chef Pola Siv of Mie Café to Sothea Seng at Lum Orng, many of the most creative Cambodian chefs have their own inventive take on Cambodia’s outside the pot soup, most of which are finished at the table with the waiter pouring the hot consommé over the vegetables, herbs and fish, poaching it at the table.
Samlor Korko Recipe for Cambodia’s Stirring Pot Soup
Samlor korko translates to ‘Cambodian stirring soup’ and this samlor korko recipe for Cambodian stirring pot soup makes a rustic, unpretentious, nourishing stew-like soup brimming with vegetables and fruit and featuring Cambodia’s most quintessential ingredients, prahok and kroeung. Believed to be a very old dish, dating to the Khmer Empire, for many this is Cambodia’s national dish. This Cambodian samlor korko is another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to cook in lockdown because it makes a hearty, healthy, unpretentious, stew-like soup, packed with vegetables and green fruit and healthy and nutritious is what we all need right now. Beloved by all Cambodians, particularly the older generation, with a base of prahok (fermented fish) and green kroeung, this is one of the most quintessentially Cambodian dishes. Samlor, which you’ll also see written as samlaw, samlar and samla, means both soup and stew, while korko, which you’ll see written in Cambodian cookbooks as koko, kako or kakor, refers to the stirring of the soup.
Cambodian Sour Soup With Pork, Pineapple and Coconut Milk for Samlor Machou Ktis
This Cambodian sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk recipe makes a versatile dish that you can serve as a soup by thinning it out with stock or water or dish it out as an almost curry-like stew by letting it simmer longer and reduce right down. Known simply as samlor machou ktis (or k’tis) by Cambodians who love to shorten names, just as we Australians like to do, it’s more correctly called samlor machou ktis monoa sach chrouk. ‘Samlor machou’ means sour soup and Cambodians love their sour soups, a whole category of soup distinguished by their tartness and tanginess, generally due to the inclusion of citrus or another souring agent, such as tamarind. Although to call this particular soup ‘sour’ only is a tad misleading, as this is a balanced soup with the sourness offset by the sweetness. The pineapple, palm sugar and coconut milk makes this dish sweeter than sour, which is why it needs the tamarind juice. This is another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to cook simply for the fact that it’s just so delicious.
Cambodian Pickled Lime and Chicken Soup Recipe for Sngor Ngam Ngov
Our Cambodian pickled lime soup with chicken recipe makes sngor ngam ngov, one of my favourite Cambodian soups, a perfumed citrus-driven broth that is a bit sweet and a bit sour but beautifully balanced. The bowl should brim with pieces of succulent chicken fragrant from the lime you roasted them in and aromatics such as lemongrass and coriander that swim in this nourishing soup. In contrast to a samlor, that is heartier and often kroeung-based, a sngor is a clearer soup that is still distinguished by its herbs, but herbs that are added whole rather than combined within a paste. Ngam ngov is pickled lime in Khmer, which is what gives this soup plenty of punchy flavour. While a Cambodian pickled lime soup is almost always made with chicken – moan in Khmer – moan rarely appears in the name as it’s really about those pickled limes. Most Cambodian houses will have a lime tree and Cambodians will make big jars of pickled limes. Our Cambodian pickled lime soup is a fairly hearty rendition of this beloved dish. In many ways this is Cambodia’s chicken soup for the soul and of Cambodia’s countless soups there are few more nourishing and comforting.
Traditional Pork Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup Recipe for Cambodia’s Sngao Mreah
This savoury minced pork stuffed bitter melon soup recipe for Cambodia’s sngao mreah makes a traditional Cambodian dish that’s also found in neighbouring Vietnam. Bitter melon, also called bitter gourd, is stuffed with seasoned ground pork and served in a light soup. A nutritious superfood eaten for its medicinal properties, bitter melon is delicious with the bitterness reduced by soaking it in salt water. It’s likely an ancient Khmer dish, with mentions of bitter melons on ancient stone temple inscriptions, along with other gourds, such as the ivy gourd and wax gourd.
Cambodian Grilled Corn Recipe for Poat Dot with a Fish Sauce, Spring Onions and Coconut Milk Sauce
This smoky Cambodian grilled corn recipe makes poat dot, a Cambodian street food snack of barbecued corn on the cob brushed with a delightfully sweet and salty sauce made from coconut milk, fish sauce and spring onions. While I love eating this on the street I prefer making it at home. It’s super easy. When you make this street food favourite yourself, you can not only cook the corn to your liking – we prefer our corn cobs more charred than they are when they’re sold on the street – but you can also make sure you get the sauce balanced to your taste (it’s often too sweet for me when done on the street) and you can serve extra sauce on the side.
Cambodian Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime Butter and Lemongrass Mayonnaise Recipe
Soon after Cambodia’s corn harvests, corn is sold as a street food snack in various forms, both savoury and sweet. In Cambodian cities such as Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang, the grilled corn on the cob sold from mobile street food carts in the late afternoon and evening has traditionally either been steamed and served solo or grilled and brushed with a sauce made with coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, and spring onions.. Our grilled corn with lime butter and lemongrass mayonnaise recipe is another of our Cambodian recipes to learn to cook and another of my favourite grilled corn on the cob recipes. It’s inspired by the simple buttered corn on the cob and the traditional Cambodian grilled corn with tangy creamy sauce called poat dot, above. While I’m happy to eat it on its own, it also makes a fantastic side to the dishes in our Cambodian barbecue series, below.
Cambodian Spicy Roasted Peanuts with Chilli, Kaffir Lime Leaves and Lemongrass
This Cambodian spicy roasted peanuts recipe is a perfect snack for any holiday season and is a great snack to accompany cold Angkor beers or a potent negroni, and is another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to cook. When you go out to a good bar in Cambodia, especially in Siem Reap, you’ll probably be served two or three small dishes of nibbles with your drinks – typically these include crispy purple taro and orange sweet potato chips, maybe some crunchy banana chips, perhaps mini crispy rice cakes, and, if you’re lucky, a bowl of Cambodian spicy roasted peanuts with chillies, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and garlic. These are aromatic, spicy, salty, and sweet. Cambodia in a nutshell, so to speak. You can buy the peanuts at local markets, but they’re made with way too much garlic for our liking, plus they contain incredibly long dry pieces of lemongrass, which are sharp enough to be a choking hazard. Nibbling nuts isn’t much fun when you feel like you might either have a cheek impaled by a lemongrass slither or ingest enough undercooked garlic to make you brave enough to attempt impaling a vampire.
Cambodian Beef Skewers Recipe for Sach Ko Ang
This beef skewers recipe is another of our Cambodian recipes to learn to cook this year. This recipe kicked off Terence’s series on the best Cambodian barbecue recipes that he started a few months ago. It was inevitable we’d start this series with this beef skewers recipe as it’s one of our go-to street food snacks in Siem Reap. We discovered these skewers, called sach ko ang in Khmer, on one of our first trips to Cambodia when we were living in Bangkok. I think we smelt the smoky aromas first, then spotted the plumes of smoke, and let our noses lead the way… which is the way it goes with Cambodian barbecue. These skewers are typically eaten with pickled vegetables and are a classic late afternoon or early evening snack. Skewered barbecue meats are found right across Southeast Asia, but what makes these special is the Cambodian kroeung or herb and spice paste that they are marinated in. It’s distinctly Cambodian. They typically come with pickled vegetables and optional douse of chilli. Baguettes, a legacy of the French, are also optional, but highly recommended. You place the skewer inside the baguette, hold onto it tight, and pull the skewer out so the meat slides off. You can then add your pickled veg and chilli.
Cambodian Grilled Pork Ribs Recipe for Easy Smoky Barbecue Pork Ribs
This Cambodian grilled pork ribs recipe is another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to cook. Super easy, it’s made with a simple marinade, and is a cinch to make on a barbecue, grill or a clay brazier and makes another of our favourite Cambodian street food dishes, typically eaten at rustic neighbourhood restaurants or boisterous local BBQ joints, where they’re washed down with Anchor beers. We’ve been tucking into these, along with a couple of our styles of barbecue ribs we love, at one of our favourite family-owned eateries since we first moved here. At Cambodian BBQ joints locals will order an array of barbecued dishes including a plate or two of different kinds of ribs – and there are as many kinds of ribs as there are barbecued skewers – whereas at the local eateries the barbecue ribs will be eaten amongst a handful of dishes that might include a pot of soup, some stir-fried greens such a morning glory, perhaps a curry, and big plates of rice for each person. It’s another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to make while you’re self-isolating.
Pork Spare Ribs with Star Anise Recipe for Aromatic Cambodian Style Ribs
Everybody loves ribs in Southeast Asia and Cambodians are no exception. In fact, we’ve probably eaten more ribs, especially pork ribs, since we’ve lived in Cambodia – and before we moved here, in Vietnam and Thailand – than we’ve eaten in our lives. You’ll find loads of different styles of pork ribs in every country, with many cross-overs, and many pork ribs recipes that have their roots in Chinese cuisine. Ingredients such as soy sauce, hoisin sauce, Chinese vinegars, and Chinese five-spice are giveaways. Cambodia’s home-grown ribs are marinated in a Khmer kroeung, herb and spice paste. This pork spare ribs with star anise recipe makes a wonderfully aromatic Cambodian style of pork ribs that you can tuck into on their own, washed down with cold beers of course, or serve as one of a number of dishes as part of a Cambodian family feast. It’s another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to make while you’re self-isolating. So what makes these ‘Cambodian-style’? For us, it’s the star anise and the palm sugar, and the simplicity of the ribs. Cambodian palm sugar that comes from just down the road in a village called Preah Dak or Pradak on the other side of Angkor Wat and the Angkor temples. The village is famous for its palm sugar and its fresh fermented rice noodles.
Cambodian Beef and Pork Belly Skewers Recipe for Sach Ko Chror Nouch
This Cambodian beef and pork belly skewers recipe makes sach ko chror nouch and it’s another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to make this year. Different to the beef skewers marinated in kroeung which kicked off this Cambodian barbecue recipes series, these are considered ‘stuffed’ beef skewers because the beef is wrapped around pork belly or pork fat, and they are often served at Cambodian weddings. You could grill your beef pork belly skewers on an outdoor barbecue or grill. Sometimes we’ll do them over the traditional clay brazier on the balcony, but now that we have a decent extraction fan over the stove at the new apartment (and it’s sweltering outside at this time of year), we like to use our stovetop Korean BBQ grill pan.
Cambodian Natang Recipe for Pork, Coconut and Peanut Dip with Crispy Rice Cakes
This natang recipe makes a Cambodian dip of minced pork, coconut cream and peanuts that’s made to be eaten with homemade crispy rice cakes, which in turn are intended to use up the rice that sticks to the bottom of a pot or any leftover rice. Natang is one of those dishes claimed by Cambodia and Thailand as their own and is found in both countries, due to their shared histories. In both Cambodia and Thailand, natang is frequently said to be a Royal Khmer or Royal Thai dish although Cambodian chefs we’ve interviewed believe it to be from the countryside. There’s no reason that it can’t be both. One of the arguments for natang having originated from the countryside is that it was created specifically to be eaten with the rice crust (called bai kdaing) that forms from rice stuck on the bottom of the cooking pot or rice crackers made from leftover rice that’s flattened and left to dry in the sun. Thais call the dish khao tang na tang and claim that the name comes from a story that Thais love khao tang na tang so much that they run ‘full tilt’ (‘na tang’) in order to eat it. You can find a recipe for the crispy rice cakes in The Elephant Walk Cookbook by Cambodian-American Longteine De Monteiro who owns the acclaimed Cambodian restaurant of the same name in the USA.
Authentic Khmer Prahok Ktis Recipe for Cambodia’s Pork and Coconut Milk Dip
This authentic Khmer prahok ktis recipe makes the deliciously rich Cambodian dip made from fermented fish and minced pork that is served with fresh crispy vegetables and it’s most definitely a Cambodian dish to learn to cook. It makes a great introduction to the use of the Cambodia’s beloved prahok and the herb and spice paste called kroeung in authentic Khmer cuisine. Made with prahok, yellow kroeung, minced pork, pea eggplants, some chillies and coconut milk, this prahok ktis recipe – or more accurately, prahok k’tis – is as authentic as they come, but it is also one where you can tone down the amount of prahok as a mild concession to ‘Western’ palates. But having said that, every friend or client from Australia, the USA and Europe we’ve introduced this dish to here in Siem Reap absolutely love it.
Cambodian Pomelo Salad with Prawns Recipe, A Traditional Dish with Modern Presentation
This Cambodian pomelo salad with prawns recipe has been a favourite since we moved to Cambodia and it’s a breeze to make. It’s also another traditional dish that can be served in a more contemporary style for entertaining and that’s just what we did. Salads are almost always a component of a Cambodian meal and this Cambodian pomelo salad with prawns recipe has the fresh, clean flavours you want to accompany a stir-fry, soup, stew or curry. Sometimes served with pork, this version uses large, fresh shrimps for protein. This Cambodian pomelo salad with prawns recipe has been a favourite since we moved to Cambodia. It’s a salad we always look forward to eating at Sugar Palm restaurant here in Siem Reap and guests we take to the restaurant always love the dish. This recipe uses dried shrimp. In Cambodia, dried shrimp is a serious business. In Siem Reap, the stands that sell the shrimp at Old Market have regular customers who take time to inspect the different grades and sizes before making a purchase. While you can buy dried shrimp in the local supermarkets, the stalls at Old Market offer far superior quality and are the place to make a purchase. The pomelo is the largest citrus fruit here and is native to South-East Asia. Similar to grapefruit (which can be used as a substitute in this recipe), it’s less sour and is often a lot more firm.
Classic Banana Flower Salad Recipe for Cambodia’s Gnoam Trayong Chek
This recipe for a banana flower salad – also called a banana blossom salad – makes the Cambodian banana flower salad called gnoam trayong chek in Khmer. Our banana flower salad includes shredded poached chicken but you could make a vegetarian version. It’s super-easy, you just need to work fast so your banana flower doesn’t brown. It’s a fragrant and crunchy salad that is all about the texture and aromas. This salad falls into the category of ‘gnoam’ salads here in Cambodia. A gnoam, which you’ll also spot spelt as nhoam, is a fresh salad that’s prepared with cooked ingredients, such as poached chicken in this case. The other sort of salad you’ll come across in Cambodia is called a p’lear, which features raw ingredients, such as raw fish that’s ‘cooked’ in a citrus-based dressing, like a ceviche is, or with raw beef, served like an Italian carpaccio.
Green Papaya Salad Recipe for Cambodia’s Bok Lahong
Our Cambodian green papaya salad recipe makes Bok Lahong or Nhoam Lahong, a fresh, aromatic, crunchy papaya salad that is a little funky, a little spicy, a little sour, a little salty, and a little sweet. In other words, it’s a well-balanced salad, and this is arguably what sets it apart from its bolder cousins in Laos (where pounded salads are called Tum Som), Thailand (Som Tam), and Vietnam (Gỏi Đủ Đủ), which are, respectively, a lot funkier, more fiery, and more fragrant. The green papaya salad can be both a ‘nhoam’ and a ‘bok’ in Khmer. A nhoam or gnoam is a salad made with ingredients that are cooked, such as poached chicken, wok-fried prawns, barbecued pork, etc. The other kind of salad, as I mentioned above, is a p’lear, which is made with raw ingredients, such as raw beef or raw fish that are ‘cooked’ in a lime juice-based dressing in much the same way as a ceviche or eaten raw like an Italian carpaccio. ‘Bok’ refers to something that is made by being pounded or partly-pounded in a mortar and pestle – ‘bok’ being the sound that’s made by the pestle hitting the mortar, as in ‘bok, bok, bok, bok’ – and it usually applies to papaya salads, of which there are countless, as well as dips and relishes. Typically bought from a papaya salad stall at a market or on the street and eaten as a late afternoon snack, green papaya salads are also eaten in restaurants and made at home.
Long Bean Salad with Smoked Fish Recipe for Bok Sondek Trey Cha-er
This Cambodian long bean salad with smoked fish recipe makes bok sondek trey cha-er and for me it’s the Cambodian equivalent of a European green salad. As delicious as it is, you might not eat it on its own just as you probably wouldn’t eat a lettuce, tomato and onion salad by itself. But it’s the best accompaniment to barbecued or grilled meats or fish, a soup and steamed rice. I love this Cambodian long bean salad but unlike some of the other Cambodian salads here, such as the pork and jicama salad, which I’d happily tuck into on their own for a filling lunch or light dinner, this salad is best shared as part of a family meal, with steamed rice and perhaps a soup, a grilled fish or barbecue meats. The inclusion of ‘bok’ in the title tells you that this is another pounded or partly-pounded salad – and it should be pounded in a big wooden mortar and pestle. Don’t use a stone or granite mortar and pestle, which are best for making curry pastes and Cambodian kroeungs (herb and spice mixes), as you don’t want to completely crush everything to mush. I like to give the beans a light pound, just enough for them to break, as I still want the salad to have crunch. If you’ve never used a mortar and pestle before, we have some tips.
Green Mango Salad and Smoked Fish Recipe for Cambodia’s Nhoam Svay Trei Chhae
Our green mango salad with smoked fish recipe makes Cambodia’s nhoam svay trei chhae, an aromatic salad full of texture and flavour, thanks to the raw fruit and vegetables, crispy smoked fish, dried shrimp, crunchy peanuts, and a classic Cambodian dressing of fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, birds eye chillies, and palm sugar. As with all Cambodian and northern Southeast Asian salads in this style, always make your dressing first to let the flavours meld together. But always add the dressing last to the actual salad so it doesn’t get too wet and soggy. The smoked dried fish involves a little bit of preparation that is not difficult but it’s a bit fiddly. In Cambodia, we buy skewers of the small smoked fish that you see in the image above from the local markets. These crispy dried fish are typically small local freshwater fish called trey riel, which tend to be either baby carps or Indonesian snakehead fish, although trey slak, trey changwa mool, and trey russey are also used. They are smoked in rustic homemade wood-fire smokers in the floating villages around the Tonle Sap (Great Lake) in Cambodia, just as they have been smoked for well over a thousand years.
Pork Larb Recipe for Cambodian Laab Sach Chrouk Pork Mince Salad
Our pork larb recipe makes Cambodia’s laab sach chrouk, a stir-fried minced pork salad that’s combined with fresh fragrant herbs, infused with the delightfully funky flavour of fish sauce, dusted with toasted rice powder, and served with crunchy vegetables and steamed rice, and it’s another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to make this year. We’ve been cooking and eating Thai larb since the 1980s when we first began cooking and eating Thai food in Australia, but it wasn’t until we moved to Siem Reap, Cambodia, from Vietnam in 2013 that we first tasted Cambodia’s wonderful pork laab – also spelt as larb and lab here. Like the Cambodian-Chinese rice porridge called borbor, which we posted about yesterday, Cambodians have really made their take on the larb their own. It’s very much a case of ‘same same but different’ when you compare the Cambodian laab sach chrouk minced pork salad to the larb minced salads from Thailand and Laos. The differences between this pork larb recipe and other larb salads are subtle. The Thai larbs are more spicy, the Lao larbs are more earthy, and the Cambodian larbs are more fragrant. We love them all.
Easy Pork Salad Recipe with Yam Beans and Aromatic Southeast Asian Herbs
This easy pork salad recipe with yam beans, aromatic Southeast Asian herbs and peanuts is a light, refreshing dish with fragrance, texture, crunch, and spicy pork flavours. Made with yam beans or jicama, it’s fantastic eaten on its own or part of a Cambodia feast. It’s not only incredibly delicious but also very healthy. Yam beans or jicama are known for their abundance of vitamins, fibre and minerals and can be eaten raw and cooked. Local cooks in Cambodia love yam beans. Yam beans are used in salads to add crunch, as well as in deep fried spring rolls. If you can’t find yam beans and still want to make this easy pork salad recipe with yam beans, jicama is very similar in taste and texture to a slightly unripe green apple – but note that you’d have to add your julienned apple to a salad at the last minute to avoid discolouration.
Cambodian Grilled Beef Salad Recipe for Nhoam Sach Ko
This Cambodian grilled beef salad recipe makes nhoam sach ko, a simple but refreshing salad made with lightly grilled marinated beef, infused with fresh fragrant herbs, in a classic Cambodian dressing of lime juice, fish sauce and garlic, and it’s another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to make. It’s a fantastic dish to share alongside a few other barbecue dishes, a soup and a curry or two. When it comes to beef salads in Cambodia, there are essentially two types. There is one salad where the raw beef is marinated in lime juice and herbs (lemongrass is essential for this) and served after it has been ‘cooked’ in the lime juice in the same way that a ceviche is. This kind of cold salad is called a p’lear or plea in Khmer and along with beef you’ll find fish and seafood salads made this way. The other kind of salad makes this Cambodian grilled beef salad recipe, where the meat is marinated for a short amount of time and grilled quickly over charcoal before being dressed. This kind of salad is called a nhoam or gnoam and this refers to salads where the key ingredients, such as beef, chicken, fish or seafood, are actually cooked in a wok or on a grill, before being combined with raw or lightly cooked vegetables, aromatic herbs, a dressing, and ingredients that add texture such as dried shrimp or peanuts.
Cambodian Cucumber Salad Recipe for Nhoam Trasak
This Cambodian cucumber salad recipe for nhoam trasak – also spelt gnoam trasak or gnoam tra-sakk – makes a fantastic filling salad that you can eat year-round, if you’re lucky to live in warmer climates, such as Southeast Asia, or a colossal country like Australia, where you can source cucumbers throughout the year.. Traditionally shared in Cambodia, where, like most of our salads above, it’s eaten family-style with rice, and perhaps an array of other dishes, you could also serve this as a satisfying single-bowl meal for lunch or dinner. cucumbers are fantastic in summer salads. Keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to use them and thanks to their high water content, they remain crunchy and cold for quite a while. Hence the expression “cool as a cucumber”. The addition of fried bacon, smoked dried fish and dried shrimp are what make this salad more filling and a great year-round salad for me. This is a classic Cambodian cucumber salad, yet you’ll find countless variations in Cambodia, so do feel free to tweak this – just as Cambodians do.
Beef Lok Lak Recipe for Cambodian Pepper Beef, A Modern Take on a Traditional Dish
This Beef Lok Lak recipe delivers a delicious traditional Cambodian pepper beef dish, made with Kampot pepper. For many Cambodians it’s their national dish, which is what made it one of the inspirations for our creative Cambodian canapés which we created for a New Year’s Eve a few years ago and why it’s another of the Cambodian recipes we recommend you learn to cook. While the presentation of this dish was modern for our canapés, the recipe itself is for an authentic traditional Cambodian dish, albeit one whose provenance is often debated. It’s believed that Cambodia’s beef lok lak is of Vietnamese origin as there’s a near-identical Vietnamese dish called thit bo luc lac. The Vietnamese dish has virtually the same name, which translates to ‘shaking beef’, because the cook has to shake the wok back and forth to evenly sear the beef. It’s thought that the French, who colonised Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, and popularised beef, might have brought beef lok lak to Cambodia via Phnom Penh.
Cambodian Grilled Eggplant with Minced Pork Recipe for Chha Trob
This Cambodian grilled eggplant with minced pork recipe makes a delicious Cambodian dish that’s called chha trob for short in Khmer and it’s another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to cook this year. The eggplant is char-grilled so it has a wonderful smoky flavour, while the minced pork, stir-fried with fermented soybeans, is a little funky, a little salty, and a little sweet. We have a special affection for this Cambodian grilled eggplant with minced pork recipe as it was one of the first Cambodian dishes that we learnt to make soon after moving to Siem Reap seven years ago. The grilled eggplant with minced pork recipe was one of a handful of Cambodian specialties – along with a green mango salad, pomelo and prawn salad, and fish amok – that we were taught during a private cooking class by chef Kethana Dunnet, owner of Sugar Palm, one of Siem Reap’s best restaurants for authentic traditional Cambodian food.
Stir Fried Clams Recipe with Spicy Sweet Tamarind Sauce and Aromatic Basil
This stir fried clams recipe with spicy sweet tamarind sauce and aromatic basil makes a Cambodian dish called ngeav chhar ampil tum, an easy but impressive plate for a casual seafood meal. The addictive tamarind sauce is sweet thanks to ripe tamarind and palm sugar, spicy courtesy of bird’s eye chillies, and fresh basil brings fragrance. It comes together in minutes. Chhar ngeav ampil tum in Khmer simply translates to ‘stir fried clams and ripe tamarind’. ‘Chhar’ is to stir-fry or fry, ‘ngeav’ are clams, and ‘ampil tum’ is ripe tamarind. Cambodians use ‘tum’, which means ‘ripe’ to distinguish the ripe tamarind from green tamarind or young tamarind, which are fresh and sour respectively. The older ripe tamarind, which is dark brown in colour, is both sour and sweet, and the sweetness is enhanced when you add palm sugar. Cambodians use blood clams for this dish, but outside Cambodia you could really use any kind of clam or even cockles or mussels. Scrub the clams clean, in case your fishmonger didn’t, and once you add the clams to the boiling water, only boil them for a minute, so they don’t over-cook. I suggest this dish for a casual meal, as I much prefer to eat clams with my hands as our Cambodian friends do. Provide cocktail forks, a finger bowl of water with lime juice, and napkins, and let your guests decide.
Squid with Green Peppercorns Recipe for Cambodia’s Famous Kampot Pepper Stir-Fry
This squid with green peppercorns recipe makes Cambodia’s famous stir-fried squid with fresh Kampot peppercorns. It showcases two of Cambodia’s premium ingredients – its world-famous Kampot pepper and its wonderful fresh seafood. Served with rice, the super-simple recipe highlights the clean flavours of squid and the perfume of fresh green peppercorns. This easy stir-fried squid with green peppercorns recipe is cooked all over the country and you’ll find it on the menus of the best Cambodian restaurants here in Siem Reap, however, the dish originated on the coast of Southern Cambodia in Kampot. Kampot is a small laidback city set on the Preaek Tuek Chhu River, just six kilometres from the ocean, and it’s best-known for its fantastic seafood – particularly squid, but also crab from nearby Kep – as well as its salt, extracted from nearby salt flats, and its outstanding Kampot pepper, grown on surrounding pepper plantations. What makes the green peppercorns so special is that they were the first Cambodian product to receive Protected Geographical Indication in 2016. This is due to the unique terroir – the combination of the soil and growing climate unique to a region, just like a wine region in France.
Cambodian Fish Amok Recipe for the Famous Steamed Fish Curry
This classic Cambodian fish amok recipe comes courtesy of a respected family of elderly cooks whose mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers made the dish during a time when Cambodian women thought nothing of spending a full day preparing a family feast, and it’s another of the Cambodian recipes that you have to learn to make. This isn’t a recipe for the sloppy fish amok you might have eaten in a Siem Reap tourist restaurant, which can be made in minutes. To make this authentic steamed fish curry from scratch, including pounding your own kroeung, you need to allow at least a couple of hours. It’s pretty when presented in a coconut shell – as Chef Kethana at Sugar Palm restaurant, who undoubtably makes Cambodia’s finest fish amok, does – with a drizzle of coconut cream and finely sliced kaffir lime leaves and chilli on top. Fish amok is beloved by Cambodians, so much so that it’s often called Cambodia’s national dish – despite the fact that Cambodians probably don’t eat it as much these days as they did in the past as it’s so time-consuming to make properly.
Creamy Cambodian Coconut Pineapple Fish Curry Recipe for Samlor Ktis Koh Kong
This Cambodian coconut pineapple fish curry recipe makes samlor ktis Koh Kong, a sweet gently spiced curry made with coconut cream, pineapple and baby eggplants from Koh Kong, an island and coastal province in Cambodia’s southwest. These days, a samlor is considered to be a soup or stew, but with a spice paste base this very much tastes like a curry – and a rich aromatic curry that tastes of a tropical island at that. It’s the kind of curry that you imagine tucking into on a beach holiday, sitting within splashing distance of the sea – with a bowl of fragrant jasmine rice, an icy cold beer to wash it down with, and your toes in squeaky white sand. Samlor ktis Koh Kong is sweet from the coconut cream, fresh ripe pineapple and creamy palm sugar, and gently-spiced and fragrant from the herbaceous red kroeung – a Cambodian herb and spice paste pounded from fresh lemongrass stalks, galangal, kaffir lime zest, turmeric, garlic, shallots, and red chillies.
Cambodian Chicken Curry Recipe for a Gentle Comforting Curry
This Cambodian chicken curry recipe makes one of Southeast Asia’s most comforting chicken curries and it’s another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to make. While it has a depth of flavour that comes from dried spices and fresh aromatic ingredients, it has a richness thanks to a liberal use of coconut cream and milk, and a gentleness due to the mild red chillies. It was a Cambodian chicken curry sampled on our first trip to Siem Reap many years ago that made me fall crazy in love with Cambodian food and led to my, perhaps also a little crazy, obsession with Cambodian cuisine and digging into its culinary history. This Cambodian chicken curry recipe originally came from Authentic Cambodian Recipes From Mother to Daughter by Sorey Long and Kanika Linden, although Terence has tweaked the recipe over the years after trying countless Cambodian chicken curries and really made it his own.
Stir Fried Morning Glory or Water Spinach Recipe for Cambodia’s Char Trokuon
This stir-fried morning glory or water spinach recipe makes the Cambodian dish char trokuon, which is generally eaten family-style as one element of a spread of dishes, centred around rice, that would typically include a soup, perhaps a grilled fish, a salad, and maybe a curry, and it’s another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to make this year. This is so good, we are very happy eating it just with a bowl of rice. Our stir fried morning glory recipe makes a healthy Cambodian dish called char trokuon, which is super easy to make. In a Cambodian home a plate of stir fried green vegetables, such as morning glory, is generally eaten as one element of a communal meal served family-style: an array of dishes are laid out on the table and meant to be shared. ‘Char’ means to stir-fry or wok-fry and ‘trokuon’ means morning glory (Ipomoea aquatic), also known as water spinach, river spinach, Chinese spinach, Chinese watercress, and swamp cabbage.
Asian Leafy Green Vegetables with Oyster Sauce Recipe for Cha Spei Preng Kachong
This Asian leafy green vegetables with oyster sauce recipe makes Cambodia’s cha spei preng kachong. Any leafy Asian greens or Chinese green vegetables can be used – choy sum, bok choy, baby bok choy, gai lan etc. There are variations of this vegetable dish within China and right across Southeast Asia, but this is the Cambodian take on this classic side, which makes cha spei preng kachong in Khmer. ‘Cha’ or ‘char’ means to stir-fry or wok-fry, ‘spei’ refers to all Chinese or Asian leafy green vegetables, and ‘preng kachong’ refers to oyster sauce although not specifically oysters as such, but molluscs with shells, such as clams and snails. A stir-fry of green vegetables is not only healthy and nutritious but it provides balance to a Southeast Asian family meal, which, in a well-off urban home, would typically consist of an array of dishes meant to be shared, including the all-important bowl of rice, a pot of soup, perhaps a salad, maybe something barbecued or grilled, or some kind of stew or curry. In a more modest home in a village in the countryside, the main meal might consist of only rice, a big pot of soup and a plate of stir-fried green vegetables to be shared. There will nearly always be greens, because they’re not only nutritious and provide balance, but they are also cheap.
Cambodian Lemongrass Chicken Stir-Fry Recipe for Chha Kroeung Sach Moan
This Cambodian stir-fried lemongrass chicken recipe makes chha kroeung sach moan, an aromatic chicken stir-fry that’s a popular street food dish that is also cooked in the home. Eaten with steamed rice, it’s super easy to prepare. It can also be prepared with pork or beef, or you can do a vegetable-driven vegetarian version. My chha kroeung sach moan recipe is based on a dish that Terence and I used to order at least a couple of nights a week for a few months after we first moved to Siem Reap some years ago. We used to go to a simple local Cambodian eatery that was on the corner of Wat Bo Road and Street 27 in Wat Bo Village and we would order this and a couple of other dishes and sip icy cold Angkor beers at a breezy outdoor table. I’ve had this countless times since at eateries around the country and it tastes exactly the same every single time. While Cambodians like to eat their food at room temperature, possibly because the weather here is warm to to hot year round, I like to serve this straight from the wok and insist that we eat it immediately as it’s most delicious when hot.
Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews Recipe for Cambodia’s Take on Cashew Chicken
This stir-fried chicken with cashews recipe for the Cambodian dish cha moan krop svay chanti has its origins in China, in a dish that is a cross between a Sichuan or Sichuanese dish and a Cantonese dish. Our stir-fried chicken with cashews recipe for the Cambodian dish cha moan krop svay chanti is a dish of Cambodian-Chinese provenance that has its roots in China, in both Cantonese cuisine and Sichuanese cuisine (also called Sichuan cuisine, Szechwan cuisine and Szechuan cuisine) from China’s Sichuan Province. A relative of this dish is the Sichuanese favourite kung pao chicken, however, that’s really another beast altogether, with its fiery chillis and numbing Sichuan peppercorns. You’ll also spot this dish elsewhere in Southeast Asia, including Thailand. If you live outside Southeast Asia, particularly in the USA, you might know the dish as ‘cashew chicken’, which is part of the Chinese-American repertoire.
Cambodian Saraman or Cari Saramann Curry Recipe
One of our best curry recipes here on Grantourismo is this Cambodian saraman curry or cari saramann. It is the richest and most complex of the Cambodian curries and we believe it to be a cousin of the Thai massaman curry and beef rendang of Malaysia. Its time-consuming nature makes it a special occasion dish for most Cambodians, particularly the Cham Muslim communities of Cambodia. The similarity with Thailand’s massaman curry lies in the base curry paste with just a few ingredients setting the saraman curry apart and that’s the use of star anise, sometimes turmeric, and dry roasted grated coconut. The latter is what the saraman curry has in common with Malaysia’s beef rendang, the dry roasted coconut helping to give the curry that beautiful rich, thick gravy that has you adding yet another spoonful of rice to your bowl just to mix it with the sauce. Indeed, one well-regarded American-based Cambodian chef and cookbook writer, Narin Seng Jameson, in her book Cooking the Cambodian Way, calls the saraman curry paste an Indian-style curry paste and the curry itself, a ‘salman curry’. She uses shrimp paste and the addition of a powder of dried caraway seeds (also known as Persian cumin) in her paste.
Cambodian Sweet Pork Belly with Boiled Eggs Recipe – A Traditional Dish With Modern Presentation
This sweet pork belly with boiled eggs recipe is a very traditional Cambodian recipe, which Terence has been making since we moved to Phnom Penh in 2012 and he first started cooking Cambodian food and it’s another of the Cambodian recipes to learn to make this year. This sweet pork belly with boiled eggs recipe is a firm favourite when placed on the table in a typical Cambodian feast. It’s a simple recipe, but one that has everyone eyeing off that last piece of pork belly and mopping up the remaining sauce. While the presentation here is very contemporary, the dish itself is rooted in a traditional Cambodian recipe. You could serve it in a rustic style or try it this way as a pre-dinner snack or part of an array of canapés if you’re entertaining. This sweet pork belly with boiled eggs recipe is rich and comforting, which is why it has a fascinating history and significant meaning in local Cambodian culture. Here in Cambodia the dish is often made for new mothers, to help them regain their strength. While this is still a belief that’s practiced in the Cambodian countryside, in the modern cities of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh it’s more thought of as a special occasion dish, brought out for family gatherings.
Braised Pork Belly Recipe with Ginger, Black Pepper, Palm Sugar, and Peanuts
This braised pork belly recipe with ginger, black pepper, palm sugar, and peanuts makes a comforting melt-in-in-your-mouth slow-cooked Cambodian pork belly dish that locals here in Cambodia call a pork stew or khor sach chrouk – also spelt kaw sach chrouk. ‘Stew’ in Khmer is ‘khor’ or ‘kaw’ and ‘sach chrouk’ means pork meat. A literal translation might be khor sach chrouk knhei mrech skor thnot sondek dei, which explains why it’s just called a Cambodian pork stew. Whatever you want to call this braised pork, it makes an incredibly delicious dish and it’s not only one of our favourite pork belly recipes, it’s one of our favourite pork recipes full stop. The wonderful Cambodian palm sugar caramelises the pork belly and combined with the pepper and ginger gives it sweet floral aromas that waft through our apartment whenever we make it, while the roasted peanuts add crunch.
Slow-Cooked Pork Leg Stew With Star Anise and Ginger for Khor Cheung Chrouk
We love this Cambodian slow-cooked pork leg stew which makes khor cheung chrouk or pork leg stew and it’s a delicious, hearty, fragrant dish that you’ll have a greater chance of eating in a private home in Cambodia than you will in a restaurant or local eatery. If you’re a pork lover and liked our pork recipes (link above), you’ll adore this pork leg stew recipe as much as we do. It’s a dish that can be served with some steamed rice and stir-fried Asian greens or morning glory or it could form part of a Southeast Asian spread. Know that this slow-cooked pork stew recipe will take some patience to make but (bonus) it will fill your kitchen with the fantastic aromas of pork, ginger and star anise.One of the keys to making this slow-cooked pork stew recipe is that you need to find a good pork leg with plenty of meat to fat ratio. You do not want to go to the trouble of making this dish to find that 80% of your pork is actually fat – delicious as it is. Lately I’ve been using my Dutch Oven to make this dish and placing a glass saucepan lid on top instead of the Dutch Oven lid so I can see how much stock is left in the oven.
Roast Chicken Recipe with Aromatic Cambodian Herb Butter and Kroeung Stuffing
This is by no means a traditional Cambodian roast chicken, rather it’s Cambodian-inspired and it’s absolutely delicious. My roast chicken recipe makes a fragrant, flavoursome and moist roast chicken thanks to a herb butter and a chicken stuffing that are made with yellow kroeung, the aromatic Khmer herb and spice paste pounded from fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime zest, galangal, turmeric, garlic, and shallots. (You’ll find a link to the kroeung recipe in the recipe post and, above, at the start of this post). I cook the chicken with baby corn, carrots, potatoes, and purple shallots for a Cambodian-inspired feast. Along with Terence’s Cambodian-inspired Australian-style meat pies and sausage rolls and my Southeast Asian flavoured pesto and Southeast Asian-inspired Japanese furikake, these fusion recipes are the result of a longing for home, nostalgia, and an eagerness to experiment. You can learn more about this roast chicken recipe below.
Caramelised Pumpkin Sago Porridge Recipe for Borbor Lapov
This caramelised pumpkin sago pudding recipe makes a sweet Cambodian dessert called borbor lapov. Made with pumpkin and sago pearls – lapov is pumpkin in Khmer while a borbor is a porridge – it’s a sweet porridge eaten as a street food snack. At home, you can add vanilla or coconut ice cream and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. For me, it’s a perfect post-dinner dessert that made for cool autumn/fall or even early spring evenings. Although here in Southeast Asia these sorts of sweets are rarely eaten after dinner when locals prefer fruit to aid digestion. They’re eaten as a snack at any time of the day, morning, afternoon, even before dinner. In pre-pandemic times, Cambodians would pick up desserts such as this caramelised pumpkin sago pudding from the local market or a dessert stall, mobile cart or shop.
Cambodian Banana Coconut Tapioca Pudding Recipe for Chek Ktis
This banana coconut tapioca pudding recipe makes Cambodia’s chek ktis, a sweet and creamy aromatic dessert of stewed banana in coconut milk and tapioca pearls, that I have perfumed with star anise. Garnish with grated coconut, add a drizzle of coconut cream, and sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving. It’s sweet Cambodia in a bowl and it’s sublime. If you travelled to Siem Reap prior to the pandemic and dined at one of its many outstanding Cambodian restaurants, chance are high that if you saved room for dessert, you might have tried a variation of this banana in coconut milk with tapioca or sago. If you did a Cambodian cooking class in Siem Reap, then there’s an even greater chance that this was the Cambodian dessert you made and you probably have this banana coconut tapioca pudding recipe in the little cookbook you were given at the end of the class.
Mango Sago Recipe for an Easy Healthy Creamy Mango Sago Pudding
Our best mango sago recipe makes an easy, healthy, creamy Southeast Asian mango sago pudding that’s made without cream – no coconut cream, no dairy cream, no condensed milk, nada. The secret to the creaminess is frozen mangos, just like with our mango smoothie – which also makes this mango sago pudding healthier than most. This is the best mango sago recipe if you love a mango sago pudding or mango sago cups but you don’t love the half cup of sugar or cups of coconut cream and condensed milk that go into this delicious Southeast Asian dessert. Don’t get me wrong, I adore coconut cream and condensed milk works for many desserts, but they’re just not needed here.
Do let us know what you think of our 65 Cambodian recipes to learn to cook this year. We’d love to hear from you if you make any, either in the comments below, by email or on social media, and please tag us #grantourismo if you share a pic.