Cambodian’s food and drink culture is as interesting as the mysterious Angkor Temples, many of that are variations on food from other Asian countries, especially Vietnam, Thailand and China. Not particularly spicy, Khmer cuisine is often delicately flavored with herbs such as lemongrass and coriander. Moreover, due to influence of the Mekong Delta and Tonle Sap culture, the Cambodia cuisine is largely typical for two main ingredients: rice and freshwater fish.

Vegetarian and Vegan in Cambodia

Famous for a deeply rich Buddhism, Cambodia is a great destination for vegetarians and vegans. In big cities such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, it is not difficult to find vegetarian only restaurants with a huge number of vegetarian options. In smaller ones, might you will have fewer options with rice dishes, fried vegetables, noodles and vegetable coconut curries.

If being a vegan, visitors should make sure that no eggs and dairy products are included as these are widely used and especially in Western restaurants.

Food culture in Cambodia

Like most other countries in Southeast Asia, enjoying cuisine with loved persons is extremely important and valued moments, even they are happy to share food with strangers. It is normal to get a sudden invitation to enjoy any meal or snack from local residents, who you have never known before. Because in Cambodia, they believed that sharing is caring. Using chopsticks to eat meals is also a typical cuisine culture of Cambodians. Besides, in terms of their culinary skills, turmeric, galangal, ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves are essential spices in Khmer cooking, Khmer stews, and nearly all curries. Skor Thnaot (Palm Sugar) is one of the main ingredients in Khmer dessert as well as some caramelizing dishes and Samlor (Khmer soup).

Typical Cambodian Dishes

Fish Amok

Fish Amok is one of the most famous Cambodia traditional dishes, made from tamarind juice, coconut milk, prohok, all of which is usually served in banana leave “bowl” with some rice. Typical kinds of fish for this cuisine are usually snakehead or catfish.

Khmer Red Curry

Other simply typical dish of Khmer is curry. It can be made from either fish, chicken or beef, with potatoes, fresh coconut milk, citronella, and green beans as the key ingredients. People often enjoy it with bread and Khmer red curry is usually served at special events like wedding or Pchum Ben occasions.

Grilled Squid

In Cambodian coastal towns such as SIhanoukville and Kep, seafood is always the first choice for any visitor and Cambodia-style freshly grilled squids are unquestionable. Squid is mixed with lemon juice or fish sauce, then grilled on the wood grill, before served with a special Cambodian sauce.

Kdam Chaa – Fried Crab

Fried Crab is a famous specialty along the coast of Cambodia, especially in Kampot and Kep. The crabs are caught fresh daily and cooked with Kampot green pepper, which is very popular, even available all over the world.

Chicken & Banana Flower Salad

This simple chicken and banana flower salad is popular on hot days in Cambodia. Banana blossom flower are mixed with chicken pieces and fried with garlic, chili and lemongrass, which really brings visitor taste of a tropical country.

Green Mango Salad

Green mango salad is a brilliant perfect choice for a hot day. Quite spicy with slight chili and refreshing taste with sliced green mango, tomato, shallots, cucumber, onion, herbs and fish sauce are typical of this awesome dish. If you are a vegetarian, you can ask cooker not to add any fish sauce into it.

Red Tree Ants 

At almost restaurants in Cambodia, it is unsurprising to see insect dishes on their menu. But among lots of insect meals, red tree ants with beef and holy basil is regarded the most attractive one. Besides sliced beef and basil, other indispensable ingredients are ginger, rind, garlic and chives. Most importantly, chili spice will make your red tree ants with beef and holy basil dish become perfect.

Kuy Teav

Kuy teav is a Cambodian noodle soup consisting of rice noodles with pork stock and toppings. It is also a popular breakfast dish in Cambodia. The broth is topped with fried shallots and garlic, bean sprouts, green onion and aromatic herbs. Additional dishes are pork or fish balls. It is similar to Hu Tieu or Pho in Vietnam.

Beef Loc Lac

Beef loc lac is a traditional dish in Cambodia with stir-fried beef in dipping sauce of black pepper, lime juice and sliced tomatoes, cucumber, onions and well-fried egg on the top. It originated from French-inspired Vietnam cuisine, but has become an important part of Cambodia cuisine.

Tarantula

Tarantula or fried spider is a regional snack in Cambodia, local residents started eating this kind of food during the years of Khmer Rouge rule because of the shortage of food. This dish is a harmony blend of sugar, salt, fried garlic and fried spiders. Eating a fried tarantula has become a popular photo opportunity for tourists in Cambodia. Eating a fried tarantula has become a popular photo opportunity for tourists in Cambodia. However, this delicacy is in danger of disappearing, thanks to deforestation and over-harvesting of the spiders, writes DW’s Kris Janssens.

Drinks in Cambodia

Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is a popular drink for Cambodians, inspired by French during colonial time. The coffee mixed with condensed milk to provide a sweet and tasty drink, and adding ice or lots of ice for refreshing. The iced coffee can be found in all café in Cambodia, or at local markets for cheaper rate.

Beer

It can be said that beer is the most famous alcoholic drink in Cambodia with lots of local brands. The two most famous local beers in Cambodia are Anchor and Angkor. Tourists prefer Lao or Tiger beer.

Fresh Coconut Juice

Thanks to monsoon tropical climate, coconut become popular in Cambodia and a fresh coconut juice is a common and refreshing drink, especially on a hot and humid day!

Rice Wine

Rice wine is one of the most favored alcoholic beverage in Asia in generally and Cambodia in particularly. As its own name, the main ingredient of this kind of drink is rice, besides other key ones are pepper, cardamom, coriander grains, garlic, galangal, ginger and star-anis are added to add flavor.