Food and Drink in CambodiaKirsty Turner
Travellers who suffer from a chilli intake problem will be pleased to discover that the food in Cambodia is much less hot than in the neighbouring nations of Thailand and Vietnam. However, that doesn’t mean that the dishes here are bland, as they are seasoned instead with herbs such as coriander and lemongrass, giving them a unique tanginess. The main staple here is rice, which is served alongside most curry, soup and stew dishes.
Those with a strong sense of adventure who want to sample authentic local food should check out the food stalls that crop up at Cambodia’s night markets. These are also the cheapest places to dine, while those who are looking for a taste of home will find a wide range of international restaurants in tourist hubs such as Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh.
Here is a selection of dishes that you will discover as you travel through Cambodia:
Amok trey – one of Cambodia’s signature dishes, featuring fish, pork or chicken in a rich and lightly spiced curry sauce.
Lou – short, thick noodles with added egg and chicken.
Caw – this is a slightly sweet dish of braised chicken or pork and egg stew flavoured with delicious caramelized palm sugar.
Bai cha – a delicious dish of Chinese sausage fried with rice.
Somlah machou khmae – a sweet and sour soup dish that is made with tomatoes, pineapple and fish.
K’dam – a speciality from Kampot, this is a delicious dish of crab cooked in pepper.
Visitors to Cambodia should avoid drinking tap water as well as drinks with ice in them. Bottled water is cheap and easy to find throughout the country and should be used even for brushing your teeth.
Green tea is popular in Cambodia and served free of charge along with most meals in restaurants. Tea lovers will also want to try the local drink known as dtai grolab, which is created by brewing tealeaves in a glass with a saucer on top. Both Indian tea and coffee are readily available in Cambodia, although they are usually served with plenty of ice.
Those who like to relax with a beer or two in the evening will find bars located all over the country, while beer also tends to be served in restaurants and at night market stalls. However, the local tipple of choice is a type of rice wine that is extremely strong an should be approached with caution.