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Khmer Cuisine is similar to that of its Southeast Asian neighbours. It is relatively unknown to the world compared to its neighbor but has been described as similar to Thai cuisine, though not as spicy. 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 kuytheav is a popular dish brought to Cambodia by its Chinese settlers. Also, banh chiao is the Khmer version of the Vietnamese bánh xèo, which in turn is a far-fetched variation of the French crepe.

Khmer cuisine is unique for the use of prahok, a type of fermented fish paste, in many dishes as a flavoring. When prahok is not used, it is likely to be kapik 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

Many herbs are used in Khmer cuisine are showcased in Khmer spring rolls known as naem. These are usually perilla, basil, heartleaf, Vietnamese coriander (Polygonum odoratum), and Chinese chives (Allium tuberosum). Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is used mainly as a garnish for many served-hot dishes such as beef noodle soup and babar, a type of congee.

Tamarind, now commonly found in the form of a soup base, is a common ingredient in sour dishes such as samlar machu. Star anise is a must when caramelizing meats in palm sugar such as pork in the dish known as pak lov. turmeric, galangal, ginger, lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves are essential spices in Khmer curries.

Some dried fish and fresh vegetables in a Cambodian market.Many vegetables used in Khmer cuisine are also used in Chinese cuisine. Unusual vegetables such as winter melon, bitter melon, luffa, and yardlong bean 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 such as mushrooms, cabbage, baby corn, bamboo shoots, fresh ginger, Chinese broccoli, snow peas, and bok choy are commonly used in many different stir fry dishes simply known as chha . Banana blossoms are sliced and added to some noodle dishes like nom banh chok.

Fish is the most common form of meat in Khmer cuisine. Dried salted fish known as trei ngeat are a favorite with plain rice porridge. The popular Khmer dish called amok uses a kind of catfish where it is steamed in a savoury coconut based curry. Pork is quite popular in making sweet Khmer sausages known as twah ko. Beef and chicken are stewed, grilled or stir fried. Seafood include an array of shellfish such as clams, cockles as well as crayfish, shrimp and squid. Duck roasted in Chinese char siu style is popular during festivals. Unusual meats include frog, turtle, and various insects like tarantulas, but you probably won't find these in Khmer cuisine abroad.

Popular dishes

  • Amok - fish in a thick coconut milk curry, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.
  • Ansom chek - a cylindrical rice cake wrapped in banana leaves filled with bananas.
  • Ansom chrook - a cyldrical rice cake wrapped in banana leaves filled with pork and mung bean paste.
  • Banh chiao - a yellow-colored crepe made of rice flour and filled with bean sprouts and meat. It is served with a sweet garlic fish sauce.
  • Bok l'hong - a salad of shredded unripe papaya with a savoury dressing of lime juice and fish sauce. May include tomatoes.
  • Bistek - cooked meat and onion on top of raw lettuce and tomatoes.
  • Kari (Curry) - There are many types of curries, most notable are a spicy red chicken curry, and a sweet green fish curry. It is sometimes eaten with rice vermicelli or slices of baguettes.
  • Kuytheav - a beef broth with rice noodles and various other ingredients.
  • Babar - a type of congee or rice porridge, plain or usually with chicken or pork (Babar Praey - salted Congee)
  • Samlar machu - a sour soup with a tamarind base. Includes meat such as chicken or fish, tomatoes, pineapples, plus other vegetables and herbs.
  • Ngam nguv - a chicken soup flavored with whole preserved lemons.
  • Yao hon or yaohon - a sort of Khmer style fondue for beef, shrimp, spinach, napa cabbage, mushrooms but with a curry sauce instead of cheese..




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