Cambodian food has a unique combination tastes of Thai, Chinese, and Indian culinary flavors. Each year more than a million tourists come to see the famous Angkor Wat in Siem Reap city in northwestern Cambodia. When you come to Siem Reap to see this UNESCO cultural heritage site, trying out the local food is a must. Cambodian cuisine uses many spices and herbs that give the food an authentic rich taste without being too overwhelming for the taste buds. There are a variety of food for you to try and many dining options in Siem Reap that offer good value and authentic Cambodian cuisine.
In Cambodia rice is a staple food (like in most Asian countries). In Cambodia, rice is usually served at every meal accompanied by several side dishes which include vegetables, curries, and meat. Cambodians use many herbs and spices such as star anise, turmeric, garlic, cilantro, and lemongrass to blend into curry paste called kroeung. The blending process could be done with the modern electronic blender or the traditional method of pounding the ingredients in a mortar. Kroeung when consumed in moderation, not only adds aromatic scent and delicious flavor to food, kroeung aids in digestion and helps regulate blood pressure as well. Kroeung pastes come in three main colors: red, yellow, and green. Red kroeung is made by blending dried red chilis with galangal, turmeric, shallots, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and salt. Yellow kroeung ingredients are similar to the red version except more turmeric will be added to give the yellow color. Finally, the green kroeung also shares the same base ingredients as the yellow paste but cinnamon and aromatic ginger will be included in there too. Kroeung could be eaten with fresh vegetables as a nice dip or it could be added into soups and curries.
If you notice the recipe for making the kroeung paste, lemongrass is one of the key ingredients. Lemongrass helps add a balmy-citrusy aroma to the food as well as being prized for its medicinal properties. Lemongrass is high in magnesium, vitamin c, copper, zinc, and phosphorus. It acts as a diuretic to flush out unwanted toxin from the body, it helps regulate cholesterol level, and lemongrass also provides many benefits for the digestive system from reducing constipation and treating stomachache. With so many great qualities it is no wonder why Cambodians use this herb in many of their dishes. If you really wanted to taste real authentic Cambodian food don’t miss prahok. Prahok is a paste made from salted fermented fish. Depending on the individual, prahok can smell and taste really good for some people while for other people it might take some getting used to. Prahok can be eaten as a dip with fresh vegetables or it can be mixed with other ingredients to create a new dish.
There are many restaurants in Siem Reap if you happened to go there to see Angkor Wat. Here’s a list of restaurants in Siem Reap worth going to: