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13 Most Popular Cambodian Dishes You Should Try

Learn about Cambodian cuisine with these modern and traditional dishes.

Want to try Cambodian food? Learn about traditional Cambodian dishes and modern favorites that you should try in Cambodia or elsewhere!

Fish Amok is a major national culinary tradition in Cambodia

Cambodia is not a country many every American can point to on a map, but it is one of the best places for exotic cuisines and a pleasant place to eat.

The most popular Cambodian foods vary from heavy barbecues to light snacks.

Some Cambodians even treat themselves to scorpions on a stick! This snack is one of the craziest meals we have seen, but don’t knock it until you try it!

Traditional Cambodian Foods

Unfortunately, Cambodian cuisine is elusive in the Western world. But you are in luck! We are here to bring you some of the best exotic eating experiences.


Nom Banh Chok (Khmer Noodles)

Nom Banh Chok is a famous Cambodian breakfast. This meal is one of my favorites.

I recommend it to people apprehensive about making exotic food. Typically, cooks serve these Nom Banh Chok with a green curry known as Kroeung.

To make Kroeung, you will need 200 grams of peeled lemongrass stocks, one tablespoon of galangal, one tablespoon of fingerroot, 1 tsp of turmeric, five cloves of garlic, two shallots, two kaffir lime leaves, and one teaspoon of kaffir lime zest.

Mash the ingredients starting with the lemongrass stocks. Next, mix this with the Kroeung and add the vegetables with rice noodles. Rice noodles are lightly fermented and strained.


Kuy Teow (Rice Noodle Soup)

Kuy Teow, also known as Char Kway Teow, is a rice noodle soup stocked with hearty vegetables and broth.

The soup consists of soy sauce, cockles, prawns, bean sprouts, chives, eggs, and meat.

First, microwave or cook your noodles until they begin to break. Microwaving usually takes two minutes.

Sautee a pan and then add your noodles. Cook the rest of your ingredients by adding them to the pan each individually. Finish your work by cooking an egg.

Throw in some shrimp to liven up the soup. Give it a savory, flavorful taste. Some people use belachan instead of shrimp.

It is a quick meal that you can make any time of the day and serve at any temperature you want.


Lok Lak (Stir-Fried Beef In Brown Sauce)

Lok Lak is a very hearty dish and a popular choice for cookouts. The meal is a mix of meat, veggies, sides, and a dipping sauce.

To start, mix and marinate your beef with your wet ingredients in a large bowl.

These should include a teaspoon of fish sauce, a quarter cup of soy sauce, a tablespoon of tomato sauce, and a tablespoon of oyster sauce.

Save enough soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar for the dip. This dip is commonly set on the side of the dish to top the beef. The entire meal should only take about 20 minutes to cook after prep.


Prahok (Fermented Fish Paste)

Prahok is a tasty curry made of vegetable stocks and cooked fish, and garnished with things like garlic and zests.

You have a lot of diverse recipes to choose from. Prahok can taste differently depending on what you put in it, from spicy to sour.

Some species in prahok include mudfish, moonlight gourami, and riel. Mudfish is a popular option. If you do not have fish, you can even use pork.

Peas, coconut milk, eggplants, and finger roots are other common ingredients to make a delicious prahok.

Prepare the fish by gutting it and cleaning it. Next, grind the fish and let it ferment. You can leave the fish to ferment for a day or two, but some people let their fish ferment for months or even up to three months.


Amok Trei (Fish Amok)

Cambodia’s national dish deserves the hype it gets.

Cambodian seafood is pretty creative and Amok Trei is no exception. Some good sides to this dish include rice, crustaceans, tofu, and chicken.

First, chop garlic cloves, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, and lemongrass. Grind these vegetables very finely while you add some spices.

If you want the best fish for Amok Trei, get goby fish, whitefish, or catfish.

Slice your fish into small strips and let it simmer for roughly four minutes. While the fish cooks, make your curry paste with shrimp or another substitute.

Amok Trei is best when you serve it in a tender banana leaf.


Bai Sach Chrouk (Pork and Rice)

Pork and rice is a quick and easy Cambodian food fit for any occasion.

Whether you want a quick snack or a heavy sitting, Bai Sach Chrouk is a great meal choice. It is especially popular for breakfast.

When it comes to picking the meat, go for pork neck. Marinate the pork neck in a pan of sugar and pickled vegetables.

You can even use a quarter cup of coconut milk to marinate the pork if you prefer. Marinating the meat this way will make it moist.

You should use half a cup of white rice to pair with the pork neck. You can commonly find Bai Sach Chrouk on the streets in Cambodia and other Southeast Asian nations.


Balut (Fertilized Eggs)

If you have not heard of balut, you are in for a wild surprise.

Some of you are going to be astonished. Balut is a fermented chicken embryo served inside of an egg.

Balut is very common in Southeast Asia, including Cambodia. Cambodian balut is often known as Pong Tia Koon.

To make Pong Tia Koon, marinate your tenderloin in a fish curry of your choice and sear them.

Next, mix your lime juice, fish curry, garlic, and a tablespoon of sugar. Note that balut is a very controversial meal. It is important to cook appropriately otherwise you could become ill.


Kangkep Baob (Stuffed Frogs)

You can get just about anything on a stick. And there is no better place for that than Cambodia, where you can get Kangkep Baob for inexpensive.

These frogs are fried in curry and stuffed.

Stuffed frogs are better than you expect. They are especially tasty when you stuff them with red chili paste, fish curry, or green kroeung.

Some people prefer thoroughly mixed stuffing. These frogs are barbecued and coated with roasted peanuts.

Kangkep Baob is certainly a culture shock for many Americans, but if you cook it correctly it is certainly safe to eat. Not only is it safe, but you might also find yourself loving it.


Lort Chaa Nom K’chai (Fried Rice Noodles and Chive Cake)

Lort Chaa Nom K’chai is another personal favorite.

I love chive cakes and have for a long time, mostly because of how sweet and chewy they are. Lort Chaa Nom K’chai comes in many different flavors.

Rice pin noodles are the common noodle choice for this recipe. Rice pin noodles, also known as rice vermicelli, are impressively thin.

In Cambodia, a translucent type of glass vermicelli known as Cha Mee Sor is a popular option for lunch and dinner.

To make this dish, you must first cook and marinate the meat by thinly slicing and cooking it for 15 minutes.

Then add your choice of veggies, including shallots, peppers, and green beans. and noodles. If you want, you can even buy frozen chive cakes to microwave at home.


Pleah Sach Ko (Rare Beef Salad)

Pleah Sach Ko is one of the tastiest entries on our list.

My favorite thing about rare beef salad is the mix of flavors between the meat, noodles, and lemon. Steamed rice is an excellent side. The dish is a popular choice for Cambodian weddings.

For your vegetables, you will need shallots, lemongrass stocks, garlic, galangal, bell peppers, onions, and bean sprouts.

The most crucial part of the dish is the meat. Marinate the meat in lime and fish paste and then cook them.

Mix your vegetable ingredients in a bowl and add your garnishes or additional ingredients.

Next, pour your three tablespoons of tuk prahok into a bowl and whisk them with lemon juice and sugar. Add all of your ingredients together for the Cambodian ultimate dinner.


Samlor Korko (Cambodian Stirring Soup)

This soup is an incredible blend of many of the other entries on this list.

Cambodian stirring soup, also known as Samlor Korko, is made from green kroeung, ginger, prahok, and several other veggies and garnishes.

Samlor Korko is a hearty meal with a large diversity of meats, broths, and green foods.

Servings are usually pretty large, which makes them an excellent choice for parties and group gatherings.

What is special about Samlor Korko is that the vegetable ingredients brown before the cooking process.

This gives it a special savoriness in the back of your mouth. If you want a spicy soup, add some Thai chili peppers.


Scorpion On A Stick

Scorpion on a stick is an extremely popular treat in Cambodia.

You can even find people selling the item on the streets and on local street carts. The treat supposedly tastes like chicken.

The scorpions are usually deep-fried, but sometimes you can even find them candied.

Scorpion on a stick can come in a tray with rice, fruit kebabs, and, believe it or not, deep-fried starfish.

Stick the bugs in batter and cornmeal before frying them for two minutes on one side and one minute on the other. Do not forget to remove the poisonous parts of the animal before serving them.


Tarantula (Fried Spider)

We are happy to top off our list with one of the most exotic meals you will ever find.

Believe it or not, the fried tarantula is a Cambodian delicacy. That is correct, fried spiders. Nobody knows who came up with this recipe, but it has been around for a while.

To prepare the tarantula, cooks remove the abdomens of the bugs. Then, burn the hairs off softly with a torch that will not leave an unpleasant taste.

Finally, dip and fry them in egg and tempura batter. Deep fry the tarantulas for one minute.

Fried spiders taste meaty and savory, similar to chicken. The outside of the spider is crunchy and crispy, while the inside is softer.

Fried tarantulas are most common in the town of Skuon, where farmers raise them in holes and confined spaces.


Traditional Cambodian Foods

  1. Nom Banh Chok (Khmer Noodles)
  2. Kuy Teow (Rice Noodle Soup)
  3. Lok Lak (Stir-Fried Beef In Brown Sauce)
  4. Prahok (Fermented Fish Paste)
  5. Amok Trei (Fish Amok)
  6. Bai Sach Chrouk (Pork and Rice)
  7. Balut (Fertilized Eggs)
  8. Kangkep Baob (Stuffed Frogs)
  9. Lort Chaa Nom K’chai (Fried Rice Noodles and Chive Cake)
  10. Pleah Sach Ko (Rare Beef Salad)
  11. Samlor Korko (Cambodian Stirring Soup)
  12. Scorpion On A Stick
  13. Tarantula (Fried Spider)

Final Thoughts

Cambodia is home to some of the world’s best blends of spice and savoriness. From seafood to barbecues, there is nothing you will not find in Cambodia. When enjoying Cambodian food, it is best to stick to the traditional recipe as closely as possible.

There are so many dishes here that it can be intimidating to try all of them. Some of these entries are particularly overwhelming to newcomers, but they have been traditional choices for years. Never be hesitant to try something new.

You can turn any average weekday evening into a memorable one with enough effort. We hope you enjoyed our list of the 13 most popular Cambodian foods.

Learn about cuisine from other cultures, like popular Afghan dishes!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.