Cambodian Markets & Food

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Located in: Asia Cambodia

A photo essay exploring the cuisine of Cambodia

Sarrut OukSarrut Ouk is a Madison, Wisconsin based food blogger. Her parents were forced to flee Cambodia during the 1980s, and hadn’t seen their family since. In March 2013, Sarrut and her family visited Cambodia and tracked down their long-lost relatives. She is sharing her journey with the readers of Love & Adventure through a series of photo essays. You can read more about Sarrut at Get n’ Mah Belly & Finding the Ouks.

See part one of Sarrut’s photo essay: Museums, Monuments & Temples in Cambodia

Food

The markets here are amazing and I love that there are so many of them where ever you are in Cambodia. You’ll find thousands of options and some of the freshest ingredients. All the vegetables you can think of…
Vegetables at the market in Cambodia
Vegetables at the market in Cambodia
Pickled fruits and veggies
Pickled fruits and veggies
Fresh curry pastes
Fresh curry pastes

Making thin garlic slices
Making thin garlic slices
Making fresh coconut milk
Coconut Meat
1. Fresh coconut meat
Processing the Coconut Meat
2. Runs through this machine
Fresh Coconut Milk at the Market
3. And voila, fresh coconut milk
Fresh Coconut Milk at the Market
Yum!
Butchers at the Market
There are even butchers
Meat Market
Nothing goes to waste
Cute Little Kid
Even she knows areas of the markets have a funky smell!
Donuts
You’ll also find lots of snacks and food being served right in the market
Fried Bananas
More things getting fried (even the bananas)
Leaf Plates & Bowls
Noodles (noticed how the vendor places a batch in the huge leaf. Plates and bowls are often replaced with those large leaves.
Grilled Meat
The majority of meat products are grilled.

Street Food

The best place to get food is right on the streets. The food carts here are amazing and a lot of the dishes they serve are things you can’t find/order at restaurants.
Street Vendors
You’ve never had an ice cream sandwich this awesome. This is coconut ice cream in French bread.
Ice Cream Sandwich
It’s just the best combination of texture and warm and cool.
Rut-te
This was freshly made right in front of my eyes. It’s like a crepe but crunchy and portable. The food vendor pours this sweet delicious pancake-like batter on his flat top and as it cooks, he spreads on the egg crème and sprinkle roasted coconut then rolls it together. Hot off the grill, it was served and was the best dessert I had in Cambodia. I believe they call it “rut-te.”
Steamed Dumplings
Bao is also one of my favorites. Steamed pork buns are all found on the street, not in restaurants but in the cart with a giant steamer next to it. When you order, they pull one right out of the steamer for you, hot and fluffly.
Street Food
This is how small a food cart can be. This guy actually has a refrigerator full of ice cream/popsicles. He cut the proper length and placed a stick in it and call it a popsicle. Yes, that’s a boombox strapped on.
Food Carts
Food cart food is the best. Who’s excited? This girl is.
(Photo courtesy: Laurel Finn)

For the risky eaters…

Clams
Small clams seasoned in salt and crushed hot peppers. This cart sits out in the sun all day…so that alone is already a risk. But this clam has a very seafoody flavor since it’s not cleaned and with it sitting in the sun, it might not hit the spot for some.
Quail Eggs
Quail egg. Boiled and tastes just like chicken eggs…so don’t be scared of the color of the egg.
Grilled chicken intestines
Grilled chicken intestines. I say it’s for those who already acquired the taste.
Stuffed Frogs
Right on the street, this food vendor is grilling up some stuffed frogs.
Grilled stuffed frogs
I had to try. We ordered it right out of our car (like a drive-thru). I gotta say the frog legs were delicious, like chicken wings but better more tendor and juicy. The stuffed part was mostly crushed herbs and seasoning. It was good, but the legs were better.
Grilled Squid
Baby squid with sweet and chili sauce. More tender than your usual seafood, how they grilled it but be careful eating it. There’s a bone-like sharp piece inside that can ruin your experience.
Fried tarantula
Something you don’t find really anywhere else, fried tarantula.
Eating fried tarantula
Yes, I ate it. Had to try the known delicacy. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good. You can taste the familiar fried seasoning (with garlic and spices). But you can also taste that it’s something that crawls around.  And no, it wasn’t hairy. The hair burns off in the hot oil it’s fried in.

Restaurants

The best restaurant foods are the ones without a menu or the writing and signs all in Khmer. Most of these are family owned and served right outside their homes. Think about it, these are delicious because you’re eating exactly what the family eats. You get authenticity. It does take a while to get your food because it’s made to order, so please be patient or plan accordingly.
Eating in Cambodia
Beef, pork, ground meat, fish balls and all other meat you can think of on a stick. Very delicious, very fatty and very “not vegetarian.” Not a lot of vegetarian options in Cambodia if you haven’t noticed…
Fried rice
Best fried rice I ever had.
Grilled chicken
Grilled chicken served with rice and sauce.
Roasted duck
Roasted duck
Grilled chicken
Grilled chicken. You have to eat this by hand. Like the Cambodians say for almost all their dishes, “It tastes better with your hands.” You take a piece of lettuce, cucumber and other herbs you’d like and take a piece of chicken, wrap it like a lettuce wrap, dip it into the sauce and eat. It is true, food tastes better with your hands.
Soup
Don’t want to eat with your hands. Don’t worry. There are tons of soups and noodles (which I think most Cambodian have for breakfast).

On average the food carts are about $0.25-$1.00 per item. Restaurants can be $2-$3 per dish. But if you can’t really do Cambodian food, don’t worry. If you can eat Asian food in America, you are safe. There are the touristy restaurants too…but you’ll be paying what you’d normally pay for $8-$10 a plate. Still not a bad price, still delicious in its own way.
Egg rolls
Egg rolls
Papaya Salad
Papaya Salad
Chicken curry
Chicken curry

Cooking Classes

The food was so delicious; I had to learn how to cook it. In many cities, there are Cambodian cooking classes, giving you authentic recipes and an amazing experience. My cooking adventure was with Nary’s Kitchen in Battambang.
Cooking classes
Ingredients for fish amok, one of Cambodia’s popular dishes.
Fish Amok
Pouring coconut cream (made from the fresh coconut milk from the market) onto the fish amok.
Fish Amok
The last touches on the fish amok. A few more minutes and it’ll be ready to eat.
Making Egg Rolls
A hands on experience.
Mixing the filling
Mixing the ground pork and other ingredients together for eggroll filling.
Egg roll filling
Now the fillings are ready.
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If you’re a total foodie like I am, this is a must when you visit Cambodia. Want more foodie goodness? Visit my blog: Get n’ Mah Belly.

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Last updated: February 28, 2014