5 Traditional Khmer Dishes to Try in Cambodia

Before I arrived in Cambodia, I had no idea what kind of food I would be looking forward to. I knew from looking at maps that Cambodia bordered Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, but wondered what kinds of influence surrounding countries and immigrants had on the country’s cuisine. It turns out that Khmer food uses a variety of spices and herbs that make dishes light up your taste buds!

Here are five traditional Khmer dishes that you should try when you’re in Cambodia:

  1. Amok is a very popular dish in Cambodia where a protein (usually fish) is stewed in a coconut-based curry along with some vegetables.
  2. Prahok is fermented fish paste that is a huge staple in Cambodia. For many people, prahok is the protein in meals because when other fresh proteins are not in abundant supply, this paste could be created and preserved for a long time. I hear it’s not a palatable flavor for Westerners, but I’m determined to try it once before I leave 🙂
  3. Num mi jup (forgive me for my poor Romanization!) also known as Khmer noodle soup, is typically a noodle soup with fish and a bunch of other ingredients concocted together to make a delicious soup. My boss took us to this local restaurant in the village to try the authentic soup!
  4. Any dish with Kampot pepper! This pepper is grown and produced in the Kampot province. This pepper is grown on a little stalk and looks kind of like the musical instrument of a bunch of bells on a stick
  5. Street food is kind of a big category, but I couldn’t just pick one. There is a large variety of street foods that are sold, such as noodle or rice dishes, preserved fruit, boiled peanuts, insects, skewers, and more!