Khmer Cuisine is similar to that of its Southeast Asian neighbors. It is relatively unknown to the world compared to its neighbors but has been described as somewhat similar to Thai cuisine. Many of the Khmers who knew how to cook authentic Khmer cuisine before the civil war were killed during the Khmer Rouge Regime. Cambodian cuisine also uses fish sauce widely in soups, stir-fried cuisine, and as dippings. Curry dishes known as kari shows its ties with Indian cuisine. Influences from Chinese cuisine can be noted in the use of many variations of rice noodles. Beef noodle soup known simply as Kuyteav is a popular dish brought to Cambodia by its Chinese settlers. Also, Banh Chiao is the Khmer version of the Vietnamese Bánh xèo.
Khmer cuisine is noted for the use of prahok, a type of fermented fish paste, in many dishes as a distinctive flavoring. When prahok is not used, it is likely to be kapi instead, a kind of fermented shrimp paste. Coconut milk is the main ingredient of many Khmer curries and desserts. In Cambodia there is regular aromatic rice and glutinous or sticky rice. The latter is used more in dessert dishes with fruits such as durian. Almost every meal is eaten with a bowl of rice.
Typically, Cambodians eat their meals with at least three or four separate dishes. Each individual dish will usually be either one of sweet, sour, salty or bitter. Chili is usually left up to the individual to add themselves. In this way Cambodians ensure that they get a bit of every flavor to satisfy their plates.
Popular Dishes in Cambodia
Samlor Kako is one of Cambodian national dishes. It uses an incredible range of ingredients to achieve its complex range of flavors, including the famous prahok or fermented fish cheese, which is unique to Khmer cuisine.
Khmer sour soup is a tamarind base fish sour soup with water greens, fish, lotus roots, and flavored in Prahok extract. Prahok is a crushed, salted and fermented fish paste (usually of mud fish). A bowl of fresh Khmer sour soup helps the body feel refreshed and clean, leaving just enough room for dessert. Sour soup is among the most popular Khmer foods. For years, this vegetable stew has fed hardworking Cambodians, particularly in the countryside where ingredients are easily found in neighboring pastures and ponds. Today, city dwellers enjoy this dish as a healthy alternative to fried bananas and fish. Expatriates living in Cambodia also are realizing the healthy benefits of eating a diet of fresh fish and water green, the base of Khmer sour soup.
Amok trey (Coconut Fish Curry Parcels) is a traditional Khmer dish. It is fish coated in a thick coconut milk with curry. It is most often wrapped in banana leaves and then steamed.
Kuyteav is a popular Cambodian noodle soup usually consisting of rice noodles and beef or clear chicken broth, among other ingredients. Kuyteav was originally brought to Cambodia by the Chinese pioneers who settled in the surrounding region.
Bok l’hong is the Khmer version of a dish popularly known in English as papaya salad. The word l’hong means papaya in Khmer. The word bok refers to the ingredients being lightly beaten with a mortar and pestle. The papaya is prepared by shredding it into fine strips. The dressing may include fish sauce, shrimp paste, preserved crabs, and/or lime juice. The preserved crabs are small crabs fermented in a salty liquid. They are mashed in a mortar and pestle and added to the salad. It is usually seasoned with salt, sugar, and/or MSG. Other vegetables that are commonly used in this dish are diced tomatoes and shredded carrots. The salad can be topped with crushed peanuts, chile peppers, and dried shrimp which are usually beaten with a mortar and pestle.
Loc Lac or Lok Lak is a stir fried cubed-cut beefs served with fresh red onions, served on a bed of lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes and dipped in a sauce consisting of lime juice and/or black pepper.
Caw is a braised pork or chicken and egg stew flavored in caramelized palm sugar. It may or may not contain Tofu or bamboo shoots.
Source : Wikipedia