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fresh bean

Cuisine of Cambodia

Khmer cuisine (Khmer សិល្បៈខាងធ្វើម្ហូបខ្មែរ) is another name for the food widely consumed in the country Cambodia.

Khmer cuisine is noted for the use of prahok​​​​ (ប្រហុក), a type of fermented fish paste, in many dishes as a distinctive flavoring. When prahok is not used, it is likely to be kapǐ​ (កាពិ) 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 includes a bowl of rice.

Cambodian cuisine also uses fish sauce widely in soups, stir-fried cuisine, and as dipping sauces. Curry dishes, known as kari (in Khmer, ការី) shows the ties between Indian and Cambodian cuisine. The many variations of rice noodles show the influences from Chinese cuisine. Beef noodle soup, known simply as Kuyteav (គុយទាវ), is a popular dish brought to Cambodia by its Chinese settlers. Also, Banh Chiao is the Khmer version of the Vietnamese Bánh xèo.

Typically, Cambodians eat their meals with at least three or four separate dishes. Each individual dish will be either sweet, sour, salty or bitter. Chili is usually left up to the individual to add themselves. In this way Cambodians ensure that they get a bit of every flavor to satisfy their palates.

Spices

Prior to the 16th century, the chili was relatively unknown in Asia until the arrival of the Portuguese. It was a great many years before chili was introduced to Cambodia. 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 cooking, Khmer stews, and nearly all curries.

Kroeung

From India, by way of Java, Cambodians have been taught the art of blending spice paste using many ingredients such as cardamom, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and turmeric. Other native ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shallots, cilantro, and kaffir lime leaves are added to these spices to make a most distinctive and complex spice blend called "kroeung" which is a very important and aromatic paste commonly used in Cambodian cooking.

Vegetables

Many vegetables used in Khmer cuisine are also used in Chinese cuisine. Unusual vegetables such as winter melon, bitter melon, luffa, and yardlong beans 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 (ឆា). Banana blossoms are sliced and added to some noodle dishes like nom banh chok.

Fruits

Fruits in Cambodia are so popular that they have their own royal court. The durian is considered the King, the mangosteen the queen, sapodilla the prince and the "milk fruit" (phlai teuk doh ko) the princess. Other popular fruits include: the jan fruit, kuy fruit, romduol, pineapple, star apple, rose apple, coconut, palmyra fruit, jackfruit, papaya, watermelon, banana, mango and rambutans. Although fruits are usually considered desserts, some fruits such as ripe mangoes, watermelon, and pineapples are eaten commonly with heavily salted fish with plain rice. Fruits are also made into beverages called tuek kolok (ទឹក កលក់), mostly shakes. Popular fruits for shakes are durian, mangoes, bananas.

Meats

Fish is the most common form of meat in Khmer cuisine. Dried salted fish known as trei ngeat (ត្រីងៀត) are a favorite with plain rice porridge. The popular Khmer dish called amok uses a kind of catfish steamed in a savoury coconut based curry. Pork is quite popular in making sweet Khmer sausages known as twah ko (ត្វារគោ). 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. Lobsters are not commonly eaten because of their price, but middle class and rich Cambodians enjoy eating them at Sihanoukville. Duck roasted in Chinese char siu style is popular during festivals. Unusual meats include frog, turtle, and various arthropods like tarantulas; these would be difficult to find in Khmer cuisine abroad, but are enjoyed as everyday delights in Cambodia.

Noodles

Many elements of Cambodian noodle dishes were inspired by Chinese and Vietnamese cooking despite maintaining a unique Khmer variation. Prohok is never used with noodle dishes. Rice stick noodles are used in Mee Katang (មីកាតាំង), which is a Cambodian variation of chǎofàn. Unlike the Chinese styled chǎofàn, the noodles are plated under the stir fry beef and vegetables and is topped off with scrambled eggs. Burmese style noodles (មីកុឡា - Mee Kola) is a vegetarian dish made from thin rice stick noodles and steamed cooked with soy sauce and garlic chives. It is served with pickled vegetables Jroak (ជ្រក់), julienned eggs, and sweet garlic fish sauce garnished with crushed peanuts. Mi Cha (មីឆា) is stired fried egg noodles.

Popular dishes

  • Amok trey (អាម៉ុក​ត្រី) - Fish in a thick coconut milk with curry, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.
  • Ansom chek (អន្សម​ចេក) - A cylindrical rice cake wrapped in banana leaves filled with bananas.
  • Ansom chrook (សន្សម​ជ្រូក) - A cylindrical rice cake wrapped in banana leaves filled with pork and mung bean paste.
  • Babar (បបរ) - A type of congee or rice porridge, plain or usually with chicken or pork served with fresh bean sprouts and green onions. (Babar Praey - salted Congee)
  • Bai cha (បាយឆា) - A Khmer variation of fried rice which includes Chinese sausages, garlic, soy sauce, and herbs, usually eaten with pork.
  • Ban Hoaw (បាញ់​ហយ) - Steamed Vermicelli noodles with mint, crushed peanuts, pickled vegetables, and deep fried egg rolls, cut into bite sized pieces, lathered in sweet fish sauce.
  • Bok L'hong (បុកល្ហុង) - Khmer green papaya salad, pounded in a mortar and pestle. Related to Laotian Tam Mak Hang, the salad may include the herb kantrop, Thai basil, string beans, roasted peanuts, cherry tomatoes, fermented small crabs, smoked or dried fish, and chili peppers. Mixed with a savory dressing of lime juice, fish sauce and/or prahok.
  • Cambodian Curry Chicken (សច់មាន់ការី) - Chicken breast braised in a coconut curry sauce.
  • Caw (ខ ឬ​សម្ល​ខ) - A braised pork or chicken and egg stew flavored in caramelized palm sugar. It may or may not contain Tofu or bamboo shoots. This dish is similar to the Filipino dish of adobo.
  • Cha knyey​ (ឆាខ្ញី) - A spicy chicken stir fry flavored with julienne ginger root, black peppers, and fresh jalapeños or fresh peppers. The beef curry consists of only crushed peanuts and dried ground Thai peppers and tends to be spicier than its chicken counterpart.
  • Jroak sway (ជ្រក់ស្វាយ) - Unripe julienned mango salad flavored with fish sauce and peppers. Usually served as a side dish with fried or baked fish and rice.
  • Khmer sour soup - A tamarind base fish sour soup with water greens, fish, lotus roots, and flavored in Prahok extract.
  • Kuytheav (គុយទាវ) - A traditional Khmer beef noodle soup dish served with fresh bean sprouts, chopped green onions and cilantro.
  • Loc Lac (ឡុកឡាក់) - Stir fried cubed beef served with fresh red onions, served on a bed of lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes and dipped in a sauce consisting of lime juice and/or black pepper.
  • Lou - Cambodian thick short noodles, with added eggs and chicken, eaten mainly with fish sauce.
  • Nom Banhchok (នំ​បញ្ចុក) - Rice vermicelli noodles with raw vegetables. There are two different soups that can accompany this dish, a green or red soup. The green soup is made of ground fish, lemon grass, and kroeung. The red soup is made from tenderized chicken and a simple coconut curry. Samlor Kari can be substituted over the two soups.
  • Ngam nguv - A chicken soup flavored with whole preserved lemons.
  • Samlor kari nom banh jok (សម្ល​ការី​នំ​បញ្ចុក) - A traditional spicy coconut curry rice vermicelli noodle soup dish with chicken served with fresh string beans, shredded cabbage, carrots, and unripe papaya. The soup is also used as a dipping sauce for fresh French baguettes.
  • Somlar kari (សម្លការី) - Red coconut chicken curry soup with sweet potatoes, julienned onion, and bamboo shoot.
  • Samlar machu yuon (សម្ល​ម្ជូរយួន) - A popular Vietnamese sour soup with a tamarind base. Includes meat such as chicken or fish, tomatoes, pineapples, plus other vegetables and herbs.
  • Sankya Lapov (សង់ខ្យាល្ពៅ) - A dessert made of pumpkin and coconut flan.
  • Yao hon or yaohon​ (យ៉ៅហ៊ន) - A sort of Khmer style curry fondue for dipping beef, shrimp, spinach, dill, napa cabbage, and mushrooms. It is much like the Cambodian variation of Japanese sukiyaki.

References

Also David Ear made 'Bang Chai', a food with meat and egg and vegetables!

External links

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