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Khmer cuisine (Khmer: សិល្បៈខាងធ្វើម្ហូបខ្មែរ) or, more generally, Cambodian cuisine, is the traditional cuisine of the people of Cambodia. Average meals typically consists of more than one dish and ideally contrasts flavours, textures and temperatures within the meal using plenty of herbs, leaves, pickled vegetables, dipping sauces, edible flowers and other garnishes and condiments.
The staple food for Cambodians is rice. Today rice is consumed by most Cambodians daily and with all meals, using a great number of cooking styles and techniques. There are hundreds of varieties of indigenous Khmer rice, from the fragrant jasmine-scented malis rice to countless types of wild, brown and sticky rice. Sticky rice is most often consumed as a dessert, often with slices of tropical fruit like mango or durian and coconut milk.
Rice is eaten throughout the day in the form of street-side snacks, such as deep-fried rice cakes with chives and spinach, for breakfast, as in Cambodia's famous rice noodle soup kuyteav or rice porridge, and in many desserts. Plain white rice is served with nearly every family meal, typically served with grilled freshwater fish, a samlor or soup, and an assortment of seasonal herbs, salad leaves and vegetables.
History and influences
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Water, rice and freshwater fish exert the most profound influences on Khmer cuisine. The Mekong river, the twelfth longest in the world cuts through the very heart of Cambodia. The capital Phnom Penh is on its riverbank, at the junction where two other rivers meet: the Tonle Sap and Bassac. The Tonle Sap river connects the Mekong with the Tonle Sap lake, or Great Lake, which acts as a liquid heart and natural reservoir for the entire Mekong river system, regulating the flow of huge volumes of water, and allowing the safe passage of an astonishing number of freshwater fish. The lake itself is believed to have more fish than any other in the world and ranks second only to the Amazon river in biodiversity.
When the rainy season begins at the start of the Khmer New Year, the region becomes inundated with monsoonal rain and Cambodia turns into a vast ocean of emerald rice-paddies. The geographical setting of wetlands (Cambodia ranks second to Bangladesh for the largest amount of wetland in Asia) and floodplains explains why water, and hence fish and rice (which grow in water) are such an integral component to the cuisine. Many dishes, in particular the samlors, have a pond-like appearance,[clarification needed] and are often loaded with reed-like plants, leaves and vegetables, mirroring the surrounding landscape. Dipping sauces tend to be quite watery, as are most Cambodian curries.
Khmer cuisine shares many commonalities with the food of neighbouring Thailand — although, less chilli, sugar and coconut cream are used for flavor — and of neighboring Vietnam, with which it shares and adopts many common dishes, as well as a colonial history, as both formed part of the French colonial empire in Southeast Asia. It has drawn upon influences from the cuisines of China and France, powerful players in Cambodian history. The Chinese began arriving in the 13th century, but Chinese migration accelerated during the French period. Curry dishes, known as kari (in Khmer, ការី) show a trace of cultural influence from India. The many variations of rice noodles show the influences from Chinese cuisine. Preserved lemons are another unusual ingredient not commonly found in the cooking of Cambodia's neighbours; it is used in some Khmer dishes to enhance the sourness. The Portuguese and Spanish also had considerable influence in Cambodian affairs in the 16th century, introducing chilli and peanuts into Asia from the New World. However, chilli never gained the same status or prominence as it did with the cuisines of neighboring Thailand, Laos and Malaysia. Even today very few recipes include chilli.
One legacy of French, the baguette - known as nom pang in Khmer - is ubiquitous in all parts of Cambodia today. Cambodians often eat bread with pâté, tinned sardines or eggs. One of these with a cup of strong coffee, sweetened with condensed milk, is an example of a common Cambodian breakfast. Freshly buttered baguettes can be made into sandwiches (also called nom pang) and may be stuffed with slices of ham or any number of grilled meats, with Kampot pepper, similar to Vietnamese banh mi. The French also introduced beer, butter, pate, coffee, chocolate, onions, carrots, broccoli, potatoes and many other types of non-native produce to Southeast Asia.
Traditionally, Cambodians eat their meals with at least three or four dishes. A meal will usually include a soup, or samlor, served alongside the main courses. Each individual dish will be either sweet, sour, salty or bitter in taste. Chilli (fresh, pickled or dried) and chilli sauce is served on the side and left up to individual diners and to their taste. In this way Cambodians ensure that they get a bit of every flavor to satisfy their palates.
In Khmer cuisine, it distinguishes between fermented paste-based ingredients and pickled ingredients. Mam refers to fish or shrimp that has been fermented in a particular technique and is usually includes more solid pieces of the pickled animal. In a sense, Mam is the general term when referring to most kind of fermented ingredients created from aquatic animals. Prahok and Kapi are popular based for sauces that refer to pickled aged ingredients. Both Mam and prahok are aged to a minimum of 1 year in order to reach its full potential in taste, much like fish sauce. Fermented sauce are often eaten with high protein-based dishes or raw vegetables to help the body digest.
|Mam (Fermented seafoods)||Mam refers to the salted, fermented fillets of snakehead fish, to which roasted red sticky rice and palm sugar are added during the fermenting process to impart an earthier and sweeter flavour. The sugar and rice also lends the ingredient a reddish tinge. From the time that the fish is filleted, mam can take over a year to reach maturity. According to the unsubstantiated rumours that I transcribe as actual history, mam originates from Kampuchea Krom territory, the wedge of the Vietnamese Mekong Delta that was previously under Cambodian ownership.|
|Prahok||A common ingredient, almost a national institution, is a pungent type of fermented fish paste used in many dishes, a distinctive flavoring known as prahok (ប្រហុក). It's an acquired taste for most Westerners and is an integral part of Khmer cuisine. It is included in many dishes or used as a dipping sauce. The liberal use of prahok, which adds a salty tang to many dishes, is a characteristic which distinguishes Khmer cuisine from that of its neighbours. Prahok can be prepared many ways and eaten as a dish on its own right. Prahok jien (ប្រហុកចៀន) is fried and usually mixed with meat (usually beef or pork) and chilli. It can be eaten with dips, vegetables like cucumbers or eggplants, and rice. Prahok gop or prahok ang (ប្រហុកកប់) or (ប្រហុកអាំង) is covered with banana leaves and left to cook under a fire under pieces of rock or over the coals. When prahok is not used, kapǐ (កាពិ), a kind of fermented shrimp paste, is used instead. Khmer cuisine also uses fish sauce widely in soups and stir-fried dishes, and as a dipping sauce.|
|Kapi||Another common ingredient in Khmer cuisine that often mixed with garlic and chili peppers and used as a dipping sauces for grilled and fried meats. It is also a common ingredient in certain curries and papaya salads to add salt and richer flavors.|
|Mam Trey Tok (Fermented Snakehead Fish)||A variation of "mam" using a very popular fish that lives in the flowing rivers of the Great Mekong. It's abundant makes it popular within the Cambodian and Vietnam regions where they are caught and used and can be eaten by itself after it finishes fermenting.|
|Mam Bong Kia (Fermented Shrimped)||A variation of "mam" that contains small pieces of fermented shrimp. It is often used as an ingredient for cold noodle salads or condiments for family meals.|
|Teuk Trey (Fish Sauce)||Fish sauce in an important ingredient in Khmer cooking which is used to add salt in soups, noodles, or marinating meats. It is also used as a dipping sauce ("Tuek Sa louk") containing many varieties depending on the type of dish presented in the meal. Fish sauce acts to counter balance the flavors of the other dishes within the family meal to ensure that all 5 tastes are achieve to create a harmonious meal.|
|Teuk Chon (Oyster Sauce)||Oyster sauce was introduce by way of Chinese immigrants. It is a common ingredient in Khmer cooking that adds a tangy sweet flavor to meats and stir fried vegetables. Oyster sauce, along with fish sauce, and soy sauce, as common used together when seasoning foods.|
|Teuk Si-iv (Soy sauce)||A common ingredient and condiment that is mixed with garlic or aged radish to be eat with primarily high protein dishes. It is used to add salty flavors when fish sauce is not used.|
|Teuk Seang (Hoisin Sauce)||Hoisin sauce is translate as "Soya bean Sauce" in the Khmer language. It is used when marinating to meat that will be grilled and especially for noodle soups such as "Kuy teav" or "Mee" (wheat yellow noodle).|
|Teuk Umpil (Tamarind Sauce)||A sauce using tamarind as a base, often mixed with garlic, palm sugar, and chili peppers.|
Black pepper is the preferred choice when heat is wanted in a dish; it is used in stir fries, soups, marinades for grilled meats, and dipping sauces. Pepper has a long history in Cambodia, having been grown since at least the 13th century, while the pungent, aromatic variety from Kampot province (bordering Vietnam's Ha Tien province and the Gulf of Thailand to the south, and the jungle-clad Elephant Mountains to the north) was once Cambodia's chief export from the late 1800s up till the 1960s.
Kampot pepper was once known as the King of Peppers, revered by gourmands worldwide for its floral and eucalyptus notes, its heady aroma, its musky heat, and its medicinal properties. Before the 1970s, Kampot pepper was used in all French restaurants for the classic dish steak au poivre. Today, the pepper industry is being revitalised and, since acquiring protected Geographic Indication status in 2008 (which gives it the same special status as Champagne in France), people can purchase Kampot pepper online in many parts of the world.
Jungle cardamom, or wild cardamom, grows in the aptly named Cardamom Mountains in the southwest of the country, bordering the Gulf of Thailand coast to the south and Trat province in Thailand to the west. These vast mountains form the last remaining area of intact virgin rainforest in Southeast Asia and harbour extensive mangrove forests, elephants, tigers, Siamese crocodiles and other rare and endangered species, and few people live in this area. Locals use cardamom medicinally and in certain samlors, using the root of the plant as well as the pod. Turmeric (Khmer: រមៀត) is grown in Battambang province and is a common ingredient in many curry powders, soups and rice dishes. Saffron is also esteemed in local folk medicine as a treatment for many ailments, especially skin problems.
Tamarind is commonly employed as a soup base for dishes such as samlar machu. Star anise is a must when caramelizing meat in palm sugar like pork in the dish known as pak lov. Turmeric, galangal, ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves are essential spices in Khmer cooking, Khmer stews, and nearly all curries.
From India, by way of Java, Cambodians have been taught the art of blending spices into a paste using many ingredients like cardamom, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and turmeric. Other native ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shallots, cilantro, and kaffir lime leaves are added to this mix to make a distinctive and complex spice blend called "kroeung." Other ingredients for kroeung used by Khmers in America are lemongrass, turmeric powder, garlic, prahok, and lemon leaf. This is an important aromatic paste commonly used in Cambodian cooking.
Many vegetables used in Khmer cuisine are also used in Chinese cuisine. Vegetables such as winter melon, bitter melon, luffa, water spinach and yardlong beans can be found in soups and stews. Oriental squash can be stewed, stir fried or sweetened and steamed with coconut milk as a dessert. Vegetables like mushrooms, cabbage, baby corn, bamboo shoots, fresh ginger, kai-lan ("Chinese kale"), snow peas, and bok choy are commonly used in many stir fry dishes. Together these stir fry dishes are known by the generic term chhar (ឆា). Banana blossoms are sliced and added to some noodle dishes like nom banh chok.
Fruits in Cambodia are so popular that they have their own royal court. The durian is considered the "king," the mangosteen the "queen," sapodilla the "prince" and the milk fruit (phlae teuk doh ko) the "princess." Other popular fruits include the jan fruit, kuy fruit, romduol, pineapple, star apple, rose apple, coconut, palmyra fruit, jackfruit, papaya, watermelon, banana, mango and rambutan. Although fruits are usually considered desserts, some such as ripe mangoes, watermelon, and pineapples are eaten commonly with heavily salted fish with plain rice. Fruits are also made into beverages called tuk krolok (ទឹកក្រឡុក), mostly shakes. Popular fruits for shakes are durian, mangoes, bananas.
Fish and meat
As the country has an extensive network of waterways, freshwater fish plays a large part in the diet of most Cambodians, making its way into many recipes. Daily fresh catches come from the Mekong River, Bassac River and the vast Tonlé Sap. Fish is far more common than meat in Khmer cuisine and fish forms 60% of the Cambodian intake of proteins. Prahok itself is based on fish. Many of the fish eaten in Cambodia are freshwater fish from the Tonlé Sap or from the Mekong. Dried salted fish known as trei ngeat (ត្រីងៀត) are a favourite with plain rice porridge. The popular Khmer dish called amok uses a kind of catfish steamed in a savoury coconut-based curry. The small fish known as Trey Dang Dau are very common and are often eaten deep-fried.
While freshwater fish is the most commonly used meat in the Cambodian diet, pork and chicken are also popular. Though not as common as in neighbouring Vietnam, vegetarian food is a part of Khmer cuisine and often favoured by more observant Buddhists.
Pork is quite popular in making sweet Khmer sausages known as twah ko (ត្វារគោ). Beef and chicken are stewed, grilled or stir fried. Seafood includes an array of shellfish such as clams, cockles, crayfish, shrimp and squid. Lobsters are not commonly eaten because of their price, but middle-class and rich Cambodians enjoy eating them at Sihanoukville. Duck roasted in Chinese char siu style is popular during festivals. More unusual varieties of meat include frog, turtle, and arthropods (including tarantulas); these are difficult to find in Khmer cuisine abroad but are used in everyday dishes in Cambodia.
Many elements of Cambodian noodle dishes were inspired by Chinese and Vietnamese cooking despite maintaining a distinct Khmer variation. Prahok is never used with noodle dishes. Rice stick noodles are used in mee katang (មីកាតាំង), which is a Cambodian variation of chǎo fěn with gravy. Unlike the Chinese styled chǎo fěn, the noodles are plated under the stir fry beef and vegetables and topped off with scrambled eggs. Burmese style noodles (មីកុឡា, Mee Kola) is a vegetarian dish made from thin rice stick noodles, steamed and cooked with soy sauce and garlic chives. This is served with pickled vegetables Jroak (ជ្រក់), julienned eggs, and sweet garlic fish sauce (which is actually not vegetarian) garnished with crushed peanuts. Mi Cha (មីឆា) is stir fried egg noodles.
- Amok trey (អាម៉ុកត្រី) is probably Cambodia's most well-known dish amongst visitors; there are similar dishes found in neighboring countries. Freshwater fish fillet (commonly snakehead fish, or Mekong catfish) is covered with an aromatic kroeung (pounded shallots, lemongrass, garlic, kaffir lime), roasted crushed peanuts, coconut milk, and egg and then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed until it achieves a mousse-like texture. Unlike the Thai, Lao and Malaysian versions of the same dish, it is not intended to be spicy but rather fragrant, zesty and flavorful.
- Lok lak (ឡុកឡាក់) - Stir-fried marinated, cubed beef served with fresh red onions, served on a bed of lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes and dipped in a sauce consisting of lime juice, sea salt and black Kampot pepper (tek merec). It is the Cambodian rendition of the Vietnamese dish Bò lúc lắc, which means "shaking beef" in Vietnamese. Regional variants include lok lak Americain, found in bistro menus in Phnom Penh, distinguished by the addition of chips (rather than rice) and a fried egg sunny side up.
- Ngam nguv is a chicken soup flavored with whole preserved lemons.
- Chha Kh'nhei (ឆាខ្ញី) (meaning stir-fried ginger) - A spicy stir fry (chhar) of meat, usually chicken, eel or frog flavoured with julienned gingeroot, black Kampot pepper, garlic, soy and sometimes fresh jalapeños or fresh peppers, for extra heat.
- Pleah sach ko (ភ្លាសាច់គោ): Lime and prahok-cured beef salad, sometimes also including beef tripe, tossed with thinly sliced purple Asian shallots, finely shaved radish, crushed roasted peanuts and fresh herbs such as mint and basil. Sometimes known as Cambodian beef ceviche, it is very popular at wedding and special occasions.
- Samlar kari (សម្លការី) is a traditional wedding and celebration dish, features coconut chicken curry gently spiced with paprika, and with a soupy consistency, often cooked with sweet potatoes, julienned onion, snake beans and bamboo shoot. The soup is also used as a dipping sauce for fresh baguettes, while nom ban chok samlor kari is often served for breakfast the next day, featuring the same ingredients to make nom ban chok but using the samlor kari broth instead of the traditional turmeric and fish-based broth that goes into making nom ban chok.
- Samlar machu (សម្លម្ជូរ) actually denotes an entire class of samlor, whereby the dominant flavour is an aromatic, citrusy tartness, and there are many different versions. Of all the primary flavours (salty, sweet, spicy, sour, bitter, umami), Khmers are most fond of sourness, almost every town or province has its own unique version of samlor machu including samlor machu kroeung (featuring kroeung paste, turmeric, morning glory, coriander, stewed beef ribs and tripe), samlor machu Khmer Krom (featuring tomato, pineapple, catfish, lotus root and holy basil) and samlor machu Siem Reap (containing bamboo shoot and tiny freshwater shrimp). The sourness and citrus flavour can come from prahok, tamarind, lemongrass, kaffir lime, lime juice, or herbs like lemon basil. It is cognate with the Vietnamese sour soup canh chua.
- Khar (ខ ឬសម្លខ): Braised pork or chicken and egg stew flavored in caramelized palm sugar, fish sauce and black Kampot pepper. It may contain tofu or bamboo shoots and often substitutes quail eggs for chicken eggs. A typical Khmer Krom dish, khor is similar to the Vietnamese dish of Thịt Kho and the Filipino dish called humba.
- Yao hon or yaohon'(យ៉ៅហន): A banquet-style hot pot for dipping beef, shrimp, spinach, dill, napa cabbage, rice noodles and mushrooms. It differs from Cambodian Chhnang Plerng or other Asian hot pots in that it features a tangy coconut broth rather than a clear broth. It is similar to the Japanese sukiyaki, however, it is derived from the Chinese hot pot.
- Chhnang Plerng (meaning fire pot): is the most common form of hot pot eaten in Cambodia in which a heated pot with a clear broth, meat, and assorted vegetables are eaten between family members.
- Samlor Kako (Khmer: សម្លកកូរ): Traditional dish soup of Cambodia. It's also considered as one of Cambodian's national dish.
- Trakuon Cha (stir-fried water spinach): is a common vegetable dish eaten at dinners. The water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica) is stir fried in oil, garlic, red peppers, and minced pork.
- Kwah Ko/Kwah Chrouk: is preserved beef or pork liver, similar to Cantonese Lap Cheong.
- Phak Lav: Is a dish of caramelized/braised organs, both a home dish and street. A similar dish exists in Vietnam called Phá Lấu.
Cambodian street foods (m'houp plouv) are a combination of influences from China and Southeast Asia. There exist a variety that are often not known to people outside of Cambodia. Street food are the heart and tradition of Cambodian daily life and considered snacks rather than meals. Food stalls are called hang, a Khmer word borrowed from Chinese háng ("store", "business") or hang bai (bai means "rice" or "food") and in order to identify the specific food for sale, hangs are addressed as Hang Kuy Teav (Rice noodle Stall) or Hang Kafe (Coffee Stall), for example.
- Babor (meaning porridge or rice pudding) (បបរ), derived from the standard Chinese congee, this quintessential breakfast dish has many regional Cambodian incarnations. A type of porridge made with white rice, plain or with a chicken or pork broth, and served with fresh bean sprouts, caramelised garlic oil, green onions, omelette, fried breadsticks or dried fish from the Tonle Sap (trey ngeat). Babor pray is the name for the common marketplace dish of salted dried fish with rice porridge.
- Kuy teav (meaning flat rice noodle) (គុយទាវ): In the Khmer language, kuyteav refers to the dish and the rice noodles themselves. This traditional pork broth-based rice noodle soup dish is a popular breakfast dish in Cambodia and is popular in neighbouring countries and in countries that have a large Khmer population. Originally developed by Cambodians of Chinese descent, it is always served with the garnishes of lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, chopped scallions, sawtooth coriander, black Kampot pepper, lime juice, and caramelised garlic oil. Kuyteav may be served in one of two ways, with all the ingredients in the soup, or with the soup on the side. Both versions have the same ingredients and allow the diner to control the balance of flavours, temperatures and textures. The Phnom Penh version of kuyteav (called hu tieu Nam Vang by the Vietnamese) is the most extravagant, often containing some or all of the following toppings: pork belly, ground pork, congealed pig blood, chopped pork offal such as intestine, heart, liver and lung, roasted duck, Mekong river prawns, fish cake and squid. Modern versions of kuyteav featuring beef, chicken, or seafood (rather than the original pork-based broth) have evolved recently, but the plethora of garnishes that distinguish kuyteav remain the same.
- Bai chha (បាយឆា) is a Khmer variation of fried rice which includes Chinese sausages, garlic, soy sauce, and herbs, usually eaten with pork.
- Kuy teav Ko Kho: A rice noodle dish created from the stewed/braised flavors of beef combined with flat rice noodle. It is eaten with bread as well. A similar dish exists in Vietnam called Hủ Tiếu Bò Kho.
- Mee Kiev (Meaning Dumpling noodle): Kiev meaning dumpling, from Hokkien "Kiau", is a Khmer rendition of wonton soup. The broth is clear topped with Chinese chives and the dumplings are filled with seasoned minced pork and shrimp. Variations often served with yellow wheat noodle and a mixture of rice wheat and rice noodle (Kuy teav Mee Kiev).
- Num Pang (meaning Bread): are sandwiches that are similar to their Laos and Vietnamese counterparts. They feature assorted meats, raw vegetables, and pickled vegetables as well as pate (called "Pat tae" in Khmer), butter, and mayo.
- Num Pang Ang Sach Ang (meaning grill bread with grill meat): is a finger food in which bread are cut into short pieces, brushed with butter and grilled slightly. They are served with satay meat skewers and pickled vegetables.
- Num Pang Ang Prai M'tes (meaning grilled salty spicy bread): is another variation of bread consumption where the whole bread is seasoned with butter, hot sauce, and salt and grilled continuously. The dish may be served by cutting the bread into square bitable pieces and served with chicken floss, pork ham, mayo, hot sauce, and sauté grilled spring onions. This is also an very popular street in Vietnam where it is called "Bánh mì Khơme (Khmer bread)" or "Bánh mì nướng muối ới" (grilled salty spicy bread).
- Mee Chha : A common street food where wheat yellow noodles are stirred fried with beef and vegetables and topped with an egg and gravy.
- Num Banh Chao (meaning sizzling rice snack) (បាញ់ឆែវ) A Khmer crepe made of coconut milk, rice flour and turmeric. Additionally, ground pork and bean sprouts are added in the middle to add flavor and contrast in texture, eaten with assorted vegetables and fish sauce. Another versions exist in Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
- Ban hawy (បាញ់ហយ): Threaded noodle (also called Mee Sua, meaning "sewed rice noodles") that are served in a bowl with assorted vegetables, stir fried ground pork in soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce, and topped off with fish sauce and sweet coconut milk. Other variations include pork ham and grilled meat. This noodle is also common to offer to dead ancestors during holidays. Variations of this dish exist all over Southeast Asia.
- Mee Sua Cha (meaning stir-fried sewed noodles): is a dish in which cellophane noodles are stir-fried with garlic, vegetables, mushrooms, and oyster, fish, and soy sauce. The dish is most commonly made during holidays such as Pchum Ben, or temple festivals to give to monks or to honor ancestors.
- Banh Sung: A slimy rice noodle dish that is a common lunch snack within the markets in Southern Cambodia. It features coconut milk, fish sauce, pork ham, and assorted mint and vegetables. It is similar to the Vietnamese dish bánh tằm bì.
- Bok L'hong (បុកល្ហុង), Khmer green papaya salad, pounded in a mortar and pestle. Related to Laotian Tam mak hoong, the salad may include the herb kantrop, Asian basil, string beans, roasted peanuts, cherry tomatoes, salted preserved small crabs, smoked or dried fish, and chili peppers. Mixed with a savory dressing of lime juice, fish sauce or prahok.
- Loht Chha (meaning stir-fried "falling-out" noodle) are Cambodian thick short noodles, with added eggs and chicken, eaten mainly with fish sauce. Lort refers to any substances that falls through a hole, as such, these are how the tapioca noodles are made. Variations exist in Thailand, Laos, and Hong Kong.
- Mee Kantang (មីកាតាំង): Wide rice noodles in an oyster sauce typically stir fried with eggs, baby corn, carrots, Chinese kale (kai-lan), mushrooms and a choice of meat, usually beef. The name of the dish translates literally as Cantonese-style noodles in Khmer, revealing its origin among the early Cantonese community in Cambodia, while also being similar to the Thai dish rad na.
- Cha Kuy Teav (meaning stir-fried flat rice noodle): Is a Khmer version of a stir fried flat noodle dish that is a speciality of Southern regions of Cambodia. It often features the use of dark and sweet soy sauce and a different assortment of meats.
- Mee M'poang (meaning crispy wheat noodle) are crispy yellow noodles served under a sauce of eggs, carrots, kai-lan, bok choy and a meat.
- Num banh chok (meaning rice noodle): A well-known and beloved Cambodian dish found at streetside vendors, restaurants, produce markets (psahs) such as the Psah Thom Thmey (Central Market, Phnom Penh) and in shophouses. In English it's often simply called simply Khmer noodles, owing to its ubiquity across the country. Nom ban chok is a typical breakfast food and was originally a regional speciality from Kampot province, consisting of noodles laboriously pounded out of rice, topped with a fish-based green curry gravy made from lemongrass, turmeric root and kaffir lime. Fresh mint leaves, bean sprouts, green beans, banana flower, cucumbers and other greens are heaped on top by the diner. There is also a red curry version that is usually reserved for ceremonial occasions and wedding festivities (see Samlor kari). Similar dishes exist in Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar.
- Naem Chao (meaning raw rice paper) (Khmer: ណែម): A salad roll created from from steaming and trying rice paper, a Cambodian traditional technique featured in rice paper making farms in Battambang. Nem (meaning rice paper in Cambodia, Laos, and Northern Vietnam) is slightly dipped in warm water where assorted vegetables and meats are added and wrapped like spring roll.
- Kuy Teav Kat (Meaning Cut Rice Noodle) is a dish similar to Chinese Cheong Fun. A rice mixture is steamed where minced pork in added and rolled up then cut into smaller pieces. It is served with assorted vegetables, nuts, fish sauce, and pork ham.
- Num pang chen (literally Chinese bread): Spring onion bread often referred as Chinese pizza. It combines Chinese and French style foods. It is flat and baked and fried simultaneously rather than simply being fried like its Chinese counterpart.
- Num Sakoo: a tapioca ball stuff with meat dish that is similar to the Thai Khanom Sakoo and Laos Khao Nom Sakoo. Minced meat is season and cooked then wrapped in a tapioca mixture and steamed. The dished in often served with vegetables and sweet sauce. A variation in Vietnam also exist called "Bánh ít trần" , as well as Malaysia and Indonesia.
- Mee Kola (meaning Kola noodle): Is a noodle dish created by the Kola ethnic minority in western provinces in Cambodia where the various Tai-Kadai influences are quite strong. The rice noodles are stir fried and seasoned with oyster sauce then place in a bowl where nuts, assorted vegetables and fish sauce are added. Meat variations of this dish exist in Khmer variations.
- Bai Sach Chrouk: A Cambodian breakfast street food where rice is served with sauté green onions, grill BBQ pork cooked in Chinese style, and egg. It is served with Chroak (pickled vegetables) and soy sauce or fish sauce.
- Bai Moan/ Bai Sach Moan (meaning Chicken Rice): Is a Cambodian street food of Chinese origins from Hokkien and Hainanese immigrants from the 17th century. It is similar to Chinese Chicken Rice with the exception that lemon grass paste (kreoung) is mixed with the rice before being steamed.
- Chai Yor or Naem Chien (meaning fried spring roll, name depends on wrapper used): A Khmer fried-spring roll that has origins from Cantonese Influences (called Ceon Gyun). The recipe varies from province to province, household to household.
- Nhoam (meaning "mixed raw vegetables or Asian salad"): Is the general term for a variety of salad dishes that often feature cellophane noodles (mee sua), and boiled chicken and a variety of greens and flowers.
- Num Pav: From Chinese Baozi or Ham Bao. It was introduce via Chinese immigrants and is a popular breakfast food where green and red Bao are also seen, created from pandan and dragon fruit skins.
- Num Pa-Kaong: Khmer shrimp cakes that are deep-fried in a ladle and eaten with various rice and noodle dishes.
- Sach Chrouk Sa See (Char Siu): A Khmer rendition of Char Siu pork, this is often added in num pang sandwiches or and a common meat for Bai Sach Chrouk breakfasts.
- Sach Chrouk Kvay (Kvay meaning to roast): A Chinese style-roasted pork that is commonly consumed with white rice, prahok or kapi (fish or shrimp paste), and raw vegetables. This technique only refers to a specific roasting technique created by the Chinese immigrants. Other forms of pork dishes are referred to as "ang" (meaning to grill, bake, etc.).
- Phahut: A fish cake that is pounded and mixed with kreoung in a motor and pestle. It is then molded into a patty and deep fried. It is often eaten with rice, sweet fish sauce, and raw assorted vegetables.
- Siev Mai: Is a Khmer rendition of a Chinese pork dumpling. In Khmer, it not only refers to the dumpling but refers to a style of meatball created by the southern Chinese immigrants in Phnom Penh.
Cambodian cuisine features a variety of desserts similar to its Southeast Asian neighbors. Its assortment of puddings are called Cha Houy Tuek ("jelly") or Babor P'aem ("sweet porridge") depending on the ingredients of the dish. Agar Agar jelly desserts are collectively called "Sarai". The more solid deserts are called num, a generic term for cakes, deserts and snacks. These desserts are eaten in between meals and never eaten after dinner where only fresh fruit is served.
- Num Ansom chek (meaning Banana Rice dumpling) (អន្សមចេក) is cylindrical rice cake wrapped in banana leaves and filled with bananas (sweet). There is a savoury version filled with pork and mung bean paste called Num ansom chrook (អន្សមជ្រូក).
- Num Chang: A glutinous rice dumpling made by steaming sweet rice in banana leaves. It is similar to Khmer Ansom except it is built in a cylindrical shape and have origins from Chinese-style Zongzi, therefore it may feature aged-garlic bulbs, beans and pork.
- Num Kom: A glutinous rice dumpling made by steaming rice flour in banana leaves. The shape is cylindrical and the fillings include grounded pork flavored with oyster, fish, and soy sauce.
- Num Bot: A glutinous rice dumpling made by steaming rice flour in banana leaves. The shape and texture of the rice is similar to Num Kom with the exception that the filling is only mung bean or palm sugar.
- Kralan (ក្រឡាន) - A cake (nom) made from a mixture of rice with beans or peas, grated coconut and coconut milk, palm sugar and sometimes sesame, all steamed in a pole of bamboo that gets slowly roasted over charcoal. This dessert have its origins from Laos and Thailand where the dessert is called "Khao Lan" (meaning grilled rice).
- Nom Lort: A green dessert made from rice flour in a liquid of coconut, milk, water and sugar.
- Num Yip: yellow star-like dessert made of egg yolk, flour, and sugar.
- Sankya Lapov (សង់ខ្យាល្ពៅ): A dessert made of pumpkin and coconut flan. It has its origins from Thailand when a Portuguese chef introduce the technique of a custard to the Thai king, coining the term "Sankya". This is often added into Cambodian pudding desserts called Cha Houy teuk.
- Num Kroch (meaning orange cake): Is a sesame ball of Chinese origin that is fried with a mung bean filling. It is called "orange cake" because of the shape and color after deep frying.
- 'Num Kong (meaning circle cake): Is an Asian donut with origins from China that is deep fried and brushed pork lard and roasted sesame flakes. It is a legacy of Cambodia heavily made before the 1975 genocide and after and becoming a common occupation for Cambodian migrants abroad to open donut shops.
- Num Pong (meaning egg cake): is an Asian donut with origins from China, where the dough is deep fried and flaked with milk. It is dessert often seen in Asian stores of any kind abroad.
- Chak Kwai (Chinese "chopstick" donut): is a pastry imported by Hokkien immigrants. It is eaten with Cambodian Kuy Teav and Babor and also eaten with condense milk.
- Num Porpear: a dessert in which the wrapper originates from Chinese Popiah. This spring roll wrapper also exists in Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Porpear often serves as a wrapper for dessert for assorted meats, where many various dishes exist.
- Num Banh Duc: A pandan dessert made with rice flour and tapioca starch.
- Banh Cheneuk: A rice dumpling dessert served in a ginger sauce similar to Chinese Tong Sui. The rice dumplings are steamed with a mung bean filling and placed in a ginger sauce which is often eaten when sick because of feng shui properties in food.
- Num Plae Ai (meaning Ai fruit cake): is a tapioca dessert with a palm sugar filling and topped with coconut shavings. It is a traditional dessert featured in weddings along side husband and wife cake, and pandan desserts. It can be made with different colors adding a beautiful assortment of colors. It is also called "husband killing cake" because of how easy it is to choke on when consumed.
- Num Poh Pia: Is a glutinous rice flour dessert that is often called "cassava silkworms". The rice mixture is molded into a worm like shape and boiled, then topped off with coconut shavings, mung beans, and roasted sesame seed. It is eaten with sweet coconut milk.
- Num Pia: A Chinese-Khmer cake that is popular to consume and give during the holidays. It is a specialty in the Siem Reap, Kampot, Phnom Penh, and Ta Khmau areas, and unique given the special red stamp on the top of the cake.
- Num Kaov/A'Kaov: Is a steam cup cake made form rice flour. A Cambodian combines the use of sugar palm (Thnaot) create a white (coconut), yellow (sugar palm) and pandan (green) variation. This is a popular dessert street snack as well as served during traditional weddings.
- Num Chak Chan: A pandan and coconut milk 4 layered cake that is steamed. It is a common Southeast dessert and also featured within the dessert banquet in Khmer weddings.
- Thav Ker: Khmer pronunciation of Chinese grass jelly, that is often eaten with soybean milk in a bowl during a hot day because of its cooling properties.
- Num Krok: Is a Khmer, Thai (Khanom Krok), and Laos (Khao nom Kok), coconut-based street food snack. Coconut milk is combined with rice flours with scallions added and cooked on a cast iron griddle with half-spherical moulds.
- Num Ka'Chai (meaning Chive Cake): Is a Khmer street food snack of Chinese origin (Teochew "Gu Chai Kue" meaning Chive Cake). It is a rice dumpling combine with chives and fried on a hot surface resembling a think scallion pancake. In Cambodia, the cake is eaten in combination with other dishes to add texture or eaten with sweet fish sauce.
- Num Sai Soy: Is a traditional rice dumpling that is made of glutinous rice flour, palm sugar, and pandan juice wrapped and steamed in banana leaves.
- Bai Damnaeb Turen: A sticky rice dessert topped with sweet coconut milk and slices of durian fruit.
- Num Treap: Is a sticky rice dessert that is slightly harden and topped off with roast sesame seed.
Southern Khmer/Khmer Krom Dishes
The Khmer Krom are ethnic Khmer indigenous to large areas of what is today southern Vietnam. Khmer Krom cuisine is a fusion of traditional Khmer cooking with locally available ingredients and Vietnamese influences. Khmer culture is also especially influential in the Vietnamese cuisine of southern Vietnam. This is most evident in the sweetness of Vietnamese food and the wider variety of tropical herbs that are now shared by both Vietnam and Cambodia since the 17th century when Vietnam took control of the Mekong Delta region away from the remnants of the Khmer Empire. As a result, traditional Khmer cooking is an important component of Vietnam's diverse cuisine.
- Hủ tiếu Nam Vang: Meaning Phnom Penh rice noodle, is a common breakfast snack of Khmer-Chinese origin. It features a wet and dry version and typically uses pork with additions of dark soy and daikon and carrot.
- Bún Num Bò Chóc: Also called "Bún Cá Campuchia" or "Bún Cá Nam Vang" (Nam Vang meaning Phnom Penh). Is the Khmer Krom variation of Num Banh Chok. It differs in the broth that is used, which is saltier than in Cambodia and a lesser variety of vegetables.
- Bún Kèn An Giang: A red curry variation of Khmer Num Banh Chok rice noodle dish that is a specialty of An Giang. The dish features chicken legs, herbs, and a lesser variety of greens. The word "Kèn" is a unique Khmer Krom word referring to the coconut water that is added into the dish. This dish highly resembles Laos' Khao Poon.
- Bún Riêu Bạc Liêu: Known in Khmer Krom as "Num Banh Chok Tuek K'dam Pol Leav (Bạc Liêu province having its origin etymology from Khmer Pol Leav) is crab based dish rice noodle soup, specialty of Western region of Vietnam (Miền Tây).
- Bún Nước Lèo: Another variation of Khmer Num Banh Chok with fusion Chinese influences. It is a specialty of Trà Vinh, Sóc Trăng, and Cà Mau, areas with large Khmer populations. The broth use is simple to Num Banh Chok and served along side banana blossom (pka chek/hoa chuối), roasted pork (Chrouk Kvay/ Hèo quay), and fried spring roll (Chai Yor/ Chả giò).
- Mắm Bò Hóc: A variation of prahok, a Khmer-style fish paste that is used as an ingredient and condiment. It is used in various Vietnamese dishes such as lẩu mắm and bún mắm.
- Bánh mì nướng muối ớt (Num Pang Ang Prai M'tes): A common street snack from the Khmer people that is has spread to Vietnam. The bread is braised with butter and hot sauce and grill, thought the style eaten differs from Cambodian and Vietnam.
- Bún Suông: A Khmer dish using the Suon (a yellow, orange substance) that is added into tapioca noodles.
- Chè Campuchia (Cha Houy): Or called Chè Thạch Dừa. It features the Khmer-style pudding of adding coconut milk and condense milk and a variety of jellies which is distinct from Vietnamese pudding. It also features the addition of fresh fruit and pumpkin custard and mixed together to create a variety of flavor and texture.
- Bánh Cống (Num Kaong): A Khmer deep-fried shrimp cake that is made using a coconut ladle made by traditional carving techniques. This cake is often added in noodle dishes to add saltiness and texture.
- Bánh pía (Num pia): A Chinese-Khmer cake, a speciality of Sóc Trăng.
- Bánh cốm dẹp (Om Bok): A Khmer pounded-rice grain dessert that is consume during the Khmer Dragon Boat/Moon Festival during the months of October/November (Bon Khae Ok Om Bok/ Lễ Trăng Óc Ôm Bóc). The dish symbolizes togetherness and connection and are also offered to the moon through floating candle light lanterns with flowers, to wish for a good rice harvest.
- Lạp xường Xiêm Riệp (Kwah Sach Siem Reap): Khmer Siem Reap style preserved meat that come in beef and pork varieties. These are imported through Cambodian Markets and popular consumption with sticky rice.
- Bò Khô/Cá Khô: A Khmer variation of beef jerky and fish jerky. The meats are dry and salted.
- Bánh bò thốt nốt (Num A Kao Thnaot): A Khmer version of Bánh bò featuring the use of sugar palm, an ingredient use extensively in Khmer cuisine.
- Cơm Lam (Kralan): A Khmer, Laos, and Thai sticky rice snack that is grilled in bamboo shoot. The Khmer Krom variation features green and purple-dyed rice made from the extraction of plant.
- Hoa Sầu Đâu: A watercress plant that is boiled and served with rice and fish paste or shrimp paste. It is an important addition in Khmer meals because the stems burn fat and add a crunchy texture.
- Rượu Thốt Nốt (Sra Thnaot): A type of fermented alcoholic beverage made with the use palm sugar to add a sweet and less stronger taste.
- Rang nếp: A special variety of rice that is roasted within a pot until fragrant. It is often served multiple plates within a round table for holiday occasions.
- Bánh ống Sóc Trăng : A speciality street food cake of Sóc Trăng made by the cốm dẹp of the Khmer people. When heated in a wok, the pounded rice grains form a sort of crepe that is folded and top off with coconut shavings.
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- Chicken Curry Curry Mouan Accessed 26 July 2007
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- de Monteiro, Longteine; Neustadt, Katherine (1998-11-01), The Elephant Walk Cookbook: The Exciting World of Cambodian Cuisine from the Nationally Acclaimed Restaurant, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 978-0-395-89253-4. *The Elephant Walk Cookbook is the best-known English-language reference on Cambodian cuisine, and has been an important cultural record, as many of the more elaborate recipes died out in Cambodia following the communist takeover, and have been revived based on The Elephant Walk Cookbook.
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