In just about every town and city in the UK you’ll find a great choice of Thai restaurants, and Vietnamese fare is all the rage too, with ‘street food’ stalls popping up all over the place. But what about their near neighbour, Cambodia? How often do you hear friends and colleagues raving about a fantastic Cambodian meal they had at the weekend? Chances are, never. Maybe the reason for this is that Cambodian culinary secrets are rarely written down, instead they are passed from one family member to the next for generations.
A holiday to Cambodia is the perfect way to get a flavour of this country’s gastronomy, with rice and freshwater fish two staple ingredients. Both are in abundance thanks to the presence of the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake, with these two bodies of water providing a breeding ground for the fish as well as vital flood waters for the rice paddies.
Other typical fare includes noodles, soup, lots of vegetables and tropical fruits – with sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavours all featuring. Pastes of blended spices such as cinnamon, cloves, star anise, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and turmeric are also heavily used, as well as pungent pastes of fermented fish and prawns.
Try lok lak – a very simply dish of stir-fried beef and red onions in a sauce made with lime juice, salt and Cambodian Kampot pepper. There’s fish amok, a curry blended with creamy coconut, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, cooked in banana leaves, or perhaps tuck into bai sach chrouk. This barbecued pork is marinated in garlic, soy and coconut milk and served with rice, cucumber, green tomatoes and a bowl of pickled cucumber, daikon and green mango.
Another speciality of the region is fried tarantula, and you’ll see street vendors selling this snack to locals and tourists alike. An unlikely delicacy to most Westerners, it’s worth remembering that during Cambodia’s darkest times under the murderous reign of Pol Pot, this was a vital food source for many Cambodians.
If you want to enjoy a taste of Cambodia, then why not take a look at Travelsphere guided holidays to Cambodia
Every Travelsphere holiday offers exceptional value for money. Included in the price are return scheduled flights/rail travel and internal flights, where applicable, overseas transfers and transportation, carefully chosen hotels, many meals and excursions and the services of a Travelsphere Holiday Director or Local Guide.