Cambodian cuisine

Amok, a popular Khmer dish

Khmer cuisine (Khmer: សិល្បៈខាងធ្វើម្ហូបខ្មែរ) or, more generally, Cambodian cuisine, is the traditional cuisine of the people of Cambodia. Average meals typically consists of more than one dish and ideally contrasts flavours, textures and temperatures within the meal using plenty of herbs, leaves, pickled vegetables, dipping sauces, edible flowers and other garnishes and condiments.

The staple food for Cambodians is rice. Today rice is consumed by most Cambodians daily and with all meals, using a great number of cooking styles and techniques. There are hundreds of varieties of indigenous Khmer rice, from the fragrant jasmine-scented malis rice to countless types of wild, brown and sticky rice. Sticky rice is most often consumed as a dessert, often with slices of tropical fruit like mango or durian and coconut milk.

Rice is eaten throughout the day in the form of street-side snacks, such as deep-fried rice cakes with chives and spinach, for breakfast, as in Cambodia's famous rice noodle soup kuyteav or rice porridge, and in many desserts. Plain white rice is served with nearly every family meal, typically served with grilled freshwater fish, a samlor or soup, and an assortment of seasonal herbs, salad leaves and vegetables.

History and influences

Water, rice and freshwater fish exert the most profound influences on Khmer cuisine. The Mekong river, the twelfth longest in the world cuts through the very heart of Cambodia. The capital Phnom Penh is on its riverbank, at the junction where two other rivers meet: the Tonle Sap and Bassac. The Tonle Sap river connects the Mekong with the Tonle Sap lake, or Great Lake, which acts as a liquid heart and natural reservoir for the entire Mekong river system, regulating the flow of huge volumes of water, and allowing the safe passage of an astonishing number of freshwater fish. The lake itself is believed to have more fish than any other in the world and ranks second only to the Amazon river in biodiversity.

When the rainy season begins at the start of the Khmer New Year, the region becomes inundated with monsoonal rain and Cambodia turns into a vast ocean of emerald rice-paddies. The geographical setting of wetlands (Cambodia ranks second to Bangladesh for the largest amount of wetland in Asia) and floodplains explains why water, and hence fish and rice (which grow in water) are such an integral component to the cuisine. Many dishes, in particular the samlors, have a pond-like appearance, and are often loaded with reed-like plants, leaves and vegetables, mirroring the surrounding landscape. Dipping sauces tend to be quite watery, as are most Cambodian curries.

Khmer cuisine shares many commonalities with the food of neighbouring Thailand — although, less chilli, sugar and coconut cream are used for flavor — and of neighboring Vietnam, with which it shares and adopts many common dishes, as well as a colonial history, as both formed part of the French colonial empire in Southeast Asia. It has drawn upon influences from the cuisines of China and France, powerful players in Cambodian history. The Chinese began arriving in the 13th century, but Chinese migration accelerated during the French period. Curry dishes, known as kari (in Khmer, ការី) show a trace of cultural influence from India. The many variations of rice noodles show the influences from Chinese cuisine. Preserved lemons are another unusual ingredient not commonly found in the cooking of Cambodia's neighbours; it is used in some Khmer dishes to enhance the sourness. The Portuguese and Spanish also had considerable influence in Cambodian affairs in the 16th century, introducing chilli and peanuts into Asia from the New World. However, chilli never gained the same status or prominence as it did with the cuisines of neighboring Thailand, Laos and Malaysia. Even today very few recipes include chilli.

One legacy of French, the baguette - known as nom pang in Khmer - is ubiquitous in all parts of Cambodia today. Cambodians often eat bread with pâté, tinned sardines or eggs. One of these with a cup of strong coffee, sweetened with condensed milk, is an example of a common Cambodian breakfast. Freshly buttered baguettes can be made into sandwiches (also called nom pang) and may be stuffed with slices of ham or any number of grilled meats, with Kampot pepper, similar to Vietnamese banh mi. The French also introduced beer, butter, pate, coffee, chocolate, onions, carrots, broccoli, potatoes and many other types of non-native produce to Southeast Asia.

Traditionally, Cambodians eat their meals with at least three or four dishes. A meal will usually include a soup, or samlor, served alongside the main courses. Each individual dish will be either sweet, sour, salty or bitter in taste. Chilli (fresh, pickled or dried) and chilli sauce is served on the side and left up to individual diners and to their taste. In this way Cambodians ensure that they get a bit of every flavor to satisfy their palates.


Prahok fried in banana leaves with fresh green vegetables and steamed rice.

Fermented Sauces

In Khmer cuisine, it distinguishes between fermented paste-based ingredients and pickled ingredients. Mam refers to fish or shrimp that has been fermented in a particular technique and is usually includes more solid pieces of the pickled animal. In a sense, mam is the general term when referring to most kind of fermented ingredients created from aquatic animals. Prahok and kapi are popular based for sauces that refer to pickled aged ingredients. Both mam and prahok are aged to a minimum of 1 year in order to reach its full potential in taste, much like fish sauce. Fermented sauce are often eaten with high protein-based dishes or raw vegetables to help the body digest.

Name Description
Mam (Fermented seafoods) Mam refers to the salted, fermented fillets of snakehead fish, to which roasted red sticky rice and palm sugar are added during the fermenting process to impart an earthier and sweeter flavour. The sugar and rice also lends the ingredient a reddish tinge. From the time that the fish is filleted, mam can take over a year to reach maturity. According to the unsubstantiated rumours that is transcribed as actual history, mam originates from Kampuchea Krom territory, the wedge of the Vietnamese Mekong Delta that was previously under Cambodian ownership.
Prahok A common ingredient, almost a national institution, is a pungent type of fermented fish paste used in many dishes, a distinctive flavoring known as prahok (ប្រហុក). It is an acquired taste for most Westerners and is an integral part of Khmer cuisine. It is included in many dishes or used as a dipping sauce. The liberal use of prahok, which adds a salty tang to many dishes, is a characteristic which distinguishes Khmer cuisine from that of its neighbours. Prahok can be prepared many ways and eaten as a dish on its own right. Prahok jien (ប្រហុកចៀន) is fried and usually mixed with meat (usually beef or pork) and chilli. It can be eaten with dips, vegetables like cucumbers or eggplants, and rice. Prahok gop or prahok ang (ប្រហុកកប់) or (ប្រហុកអាំង) is covered with banana leaves and left to cook under a fire under pieces of rock or over the coals. When prahok is not used, kapǐ (កាពិ), a kind of fermented shrimp paste, is used instead. Khmer cuisine also uses fish sauce widely in soups and stir-fried dishes, and as a dipping sauce.
Kapi Another common ingredient in Khmer cuisine that often mixed with garlic and chili peppers and used as a dipping sauces for grilled and fried meats. It is also a common ingredient in certain curries and papaya salads to add salt and richer flavors.
Mam Trey Tok (Fermented Snakehead Fish) A variation of "mam" using a very popular fish that lives in the flowing rivers of the Great Mekong. It's abundant makes it popular within the Cambodian and Vietnam regions where they are caught and used and can be eaten by itself after it finishes fermenting.
Mam Bong Kia (Fermented Shrimped) A variation of "mam" that contains small pieces of fermented shrimp. It is often used as an ingredient for cold noodle salads or condiments for family meals.
Teuk Trey (Fish Sauce) Fish sauce in an important ingredient in Khmer cooking which is used to add salt in soups, noodles, or marinating meats. It is also used as a dipping sauce ("Tuek Sa louk") containing many varieties depending on the type of dish presented in the meal. Fish sauce acts to counter balance the flavors of the other dishes within the family meal to ensure that all 5 tastes are achieve to create a harmonious meal.
Teuk Chon (Oyster Sauce) Oyster sauce was introduce by way of Chinese immigrants. It is a common ingredient in Khmer cooking that adds a tangy sweet flavor to meats and stir fried vegetables. Oyster sauce, along with fish sauce, and soy sauce, as common used together when seasoning foods.
Teuk Si-iv (Soy sauce) A common ingredient and condiment that is mixed with garlic or aged radish to be eat with primarily high protein dishes. It is used to add salty flavors when fish sauce is not used.
Teuk Seang (Hoisin Sauce) Hoisin sauce is translate as "Soya bean Sauce" in the Khmer language. It is used when marinating to meat that will be grilled and especially for noodle soups such as "Kuy teav" or "Mee" (wheat yellow noodle).
Teuk Umpil (Tamarind Sauce) A sauce using tamarind as a base, often mixed with garlic, palm sugar, and chili peppers.


The Cambodian herb and spice base paste Kroeung.

Black pepper is the preferred choice when heat is wanted in a dish; it is used in stir fries, soups, marinades for grilled meats, and dipping sauces. Pepper has a long history in Cambodia, having been grown since at least the 13th century, while the pungent, aromatic variety from Kampot province (bordering Vietnam's Ha Tien province and the Gulf of Thailand to the south, and the jungle-clad Elephant Mountains to the north) was once Cambodia's chief export from the late 1800s up till the 1960s.

Kampot pepper was once known as the King of Peppers, revered by gourmands worldwide for its floral and eucalyptus notes, its heady aroma, its musky heat, and its medicinal properties. Before the 1970s, Kampot pepper was used in all French restaurants for the classic dish steak au poivre. Today, the pepper industry is being revitalised and, since acquiring protected Geographic Indication status in 2008 (which gives it the same special status as Champagne in France), people can purchase Kampot pepper online in many parts of the world.

Jungle cardamom, or wild cardamom, grows in the aptly named Cardamom Mountains in the southwest of the country, bordering the Gulf of Thailand coast to the south and Trat province in Thailand to the west. These vast mountains form some of the last remaining area of intact virgin rainforest in Southeast Asia and harbour extensive mangrove forests, elephants, tigers, Siamese crocodiles and other rare and endangered species, and few people live in this area. Locals use cardamom medicinally and in certain samlors, using the root of the plant as well as the pod. Turmeric (Khmer: រមៀត) is grown in Battambang province and is a common ingredient in many curry powders, soups and rice dishes. Saffron is also esteemed in local folk medicine as a treatment for many ailments, especially skin problems.

Tamarind is commonly employed as a soup base for dishes such as samlar machu. Star anise is a must when caramelizing meat in palm sugar like 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.[1]


Main article: Kroeung
The result of freshly pounded spices, red kroeung

From India, by way of Java, Cambodians have been taught the art of blending spices into a paste using many ingredients like cardamom, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and turmeric. Other native ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shallots, cilantro, and kaffir lime leaves are added to this mix to make a distinctive and complex spice blend called "kroeung." Other ingredients for kroeung used by Khmers in America are lemongrass, turmeric powder, garlic, prahok, and lemon leaf. This is an important aromatic paste commonly used in Cambodian cooking.[2]


Many vegetables used in Khmer cuisine are also used in Chinese cuisine. Vegetables such as winter melon, bitter melon, luffa, water spinach 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 like mushrooms, cabbage, baby corn, bamboo shoots, fresh ginger, kai-lan ("Chinese kale"), snow peas, and bok choy are commonly used in many stir fry dishes. Together these stir fry dishes are known by the generic term chhar (ឆា). Banana blossoms are sliced and added to some noodle dishes like nom banh chok.


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 (phlae 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 rambutan. Although fruits are usually considered desserts, some such as ripe mangoes, watermelon, and pineapples are eaten commonly with heavily salted fish with plain rice. Fruits are also made into beverages called tuk krolok (ទឹកក្រឡុក), mostly shakes. Popular fruits for shakes are durian, mangoes, bananas.

Fish and meat

Dried fish and pork sausages for sale at Psah Chas, Siem Reap

As the country has an extensive network of waterways, freshwater fish plays a large part in the diet of most Cambodians, making its way into many recipes. Daily fresh catches come from the Mekong River, Bassac River and the vast Tonlé Sap. Fish is far more common than meat in Khmer cuisine and fish forms 60% of the Cambodian intake of proteins. Prahok itself is based on fish. Many of the fish eaten in Cambodia are freshwater fish from the Tonlé Sap or from the Mekong. Dried salted fish known as trei ngeat (ត្រីងៀត) are a favourite with plain rice porridge. The popular Khmer dish called amok uses a kind of catfish steamed in a savoury coconut-based curry. The small fish known as Trey Dang Dau are very common and are often eaten deep-fried.

While freshwater fish is the most commonly used meat in the Cambodian diet, pork and chicken are also popular. Though not as common as in neighbouring Vietnam, vegetarian food is a part of Khmer cuisine and often favoured by more observant Buddhists.

Pork is quite popular in making sweet Khmer sausages known as kwah ko (ត្វារគោ). Beef and chicken are stewed, grilled or stir fried. Seafood includes an array of shellfish such as clams, cockles, 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. More unusual varieties of meat include frog, turtle, and arthropods (including tarantulas); these are difficult to find in Khmer cuisine abroad but are used in everyday dishes in Cambodia.

  • Beef (Sach Ko)
  • Pork (Sach Chrouk)
  • Char siu (Chha Chiu or Sa See)
  • Siu mei (Kvai)
  • Frog (Kon Kaeb)
  • Naem - Fermented Sour Sausage (Nem)
  • Rice Paper- Rice Paper wrapper (Num Naem Chhao)


Mee Kola, a vegetarian noodle dish

Many elements of Cambodian noodle dishes were inspired by Chinese and Vietnamese cooking[3] despite maintaining a distinct Khmer variation. Prahok is never used with noodle dishes. Rice stick noodles are used in mee katang (មីកាតាំង), which is a Cambodian variation of chǎo fěn with gravy. Unlike the Chinese styled chǎo fěn, the noodles are plated under the stir fry beef and vegetables and topped off with scrambled eggs. Burmese style noodles (មីកុឡា, Mee Kola) is a vegetarian dish made from thin rice stick noodles, steamed and cooked with soy sauce and garlic chives. This is served with pickled vegetables Jroak (ជ្រក់), julienned eggs, and sweet garlic fish sauce (which is actually not vegetarian) garnished with crushed peanuts. Mi Cha (មីឆា) is stir fried egg noodles.

  • Kuy teav-Flat Rice Noodle (Kuy Teav)
  • La mian-Wheat/Egg Noodle (Mee)
  • Large flat square rice noodle sheet - Banh Kenh

  • Misua- Sew/Threaded Noodle (Mee Sua)
  • Num Banh Chok- Vermicelli Noodle (Num Banh Chok)
  • Rice and Tapioca Flour Noodle - Banh Sung

  • Num Lort- Tapioca Noodle (Lort)
  • Banh hoi- Meaning Steamed Cake in Khmer (Banh Hawy)

Cambodian street foods (m'houp tam plouv) are a combination of influences from China and Southeast Asia. There exist a variety that are often not known to people outside of Cambodia. Street food are the heart and tradition of Cambodian daily life and considered snacks rather than meals. Food stalls are called hang or tiam, a Khmer word borrowed from Chinese háng ("store", "business") or hang bai (bai means "rice" or "food") and in order to identify the specific food for sale, food eateries are addressed as Hang/Tiam Kuy Teav (Rice noodle Stall) or Hang/Tiam Kafe (Coffee Stall), for example.

Noodle soups

Cambodian features of variety of noodles in which different types of noodles are exchangeable for different broths, such as Kuy Teav broth eaten with Mee Sua noodle or Lort. Khmer noodles have origins from Chinese influences and bear many the similarities to other noodles in Southeast Asia.

A bowl of kuyteav.
Name Description
Kuy teav (meaning flat rice noodle) (គុយទាវ) In the Khmer language, kuyteav refers to the dish and the rice noodles themselves. This traditional pork broth-based rice noodle soup dish is a popular breakfast dish in Cambodia and is popular in neighbouring countries and in countries that have a large Khmer population. Originally developed by Cambodians of Chinese descent, it is always served with the garnishes of lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, chopped scallions, sawtooth coriander, black Kampot pepper, lime juice, and caramelised garlic oil. Kuyteav may be served in one of two ways, with all the ingredients in the soup, or with the soup on the side. Both versions have the same ingredients and allow the diner to control the balance of flavours, temperatures and textures. The Phnom Penh version of kuyteav (called hu tieu Nam Vang by the Vietnamese) is the most extravagant, often containing some or all of the following toppings: pork belly, ground pork, congealed pig blood, chopped pork offal such as intestine, heart, liver and lung, roasted duck, Mekong river prawns, fish cake and squid. Modern versions of kuyteav featuring beef, chicken, or seafood (rather than the original pork-based broth) have evolved recently, but the plethora of garnishes that distinguish kuyteav remain the same.
Kuy teav Ko Kho (Meaning Caramelized Rice Noodles) A rice noodle dish created from the stewed/braised flavors of beef combined with flat rice noodle. It features french influences including potatoes and carrots topped off with chives and cilantro. It is eaten with bread as well. A similar dish exists in Vietnam called Hủ Tiếu Bò Kho.
Mee Kiev(Meaning Dumpling noodle) Mee meaning egg noodle and Kiev meaning dumpling, from Hokkien "Kiau", is a Khmer rendition of wonton soup. The broth is clear topped with Chinese chives and the dumplings are filled with seasoned minced pork and shrimp. Variations often served with yellow wheat noodle and a mixture of rice wheat and rice noodle (Kuy teav Mee Kiev).
Num banh chok (meaning rice noodle) A well-known and beloved Cambodian dish found at streetside vendors, restaurants, produce markets (psahs) such as the Psah Thom Thmey (Central Market, Phnom Penh) and in shophouses. In English it's often simply called simply Khmer noodles, owing to its ubiquity across the country. Nom ban chok is a typical breakfast food and was originally a regional speciality from Kampot province, consisting of noodles laboriously pounded out of rice, topped with a fish-based green curry gravy made from lemongrass, turmeric root and kaffir lime. Fresh mint leaves, bean sprouts, green beans, banana flower, cucumbers and other greens are heaped on top by the diner. There is also a red curry version that is usually reserved for ceremonial occasions and wedding festivities (see Samlor kari). Similar dishes exist in Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar.
Num Banh Chok Somlar Kari A rice noodle dish eaten with a Khmer curry soup. The curry may be yellow (Turmeric soup base) or red (Chili curry soup base) depending on the type of soup created and generally include chicken (including legs) or beef, potatoes, onions, and carrots.
Num Banh Chok Namya A rice noodle dish featuring a Thai sour soup based (Thai Namya) that are popular during festivals and family gatherings. It features the same vegetables and herbs in Num Banh Chok Teuk Prahok although the Name is created with Thai green curry paste.
Num Banh Chok Kampot A speciality of Kampot featuring a cold rice noodle salad rather than a soup base of Num Banh Chok. It features cuts of spring rolls, a variety of herbs, grounded nuts, pork ham, and fish sauce.
Num Banh Chok Teuk Mahech A soup speciality of Kampot that features a clear fish broth (that doesn't feature the use of prahok) cooked with chives and vegetables. It is a regional speciality not found in Phnom Penh and other parts of Cambodia where Khmer and Vietnamese varieties of Num Banh Chok are eaten.
Num Banh Chok Samlor Yuon A rice noodle soup that have origins from the Kinh (Vietnamese) populations in the urban areas of Cambodia. It is most similar to Vietnamese Bún Riêu featuring a red blood pork soup base and balls of minced crab meat. It also features more variety of herbs and vegetables not used in Vietnam.
Banh Sung A slimy rice noodle dish that is a common lunch snack within the markets in Southern Cambodia. It features coconut milk, fish sauce, pork ham, and assorted mint and vegetables. It is similar to the Vietnamese dish bánh tằm bì.

Samlor (Rice Soup) and Chhang Plerng (Hotpot)

Samlor refers to soup dishes that are eaten with rice and Sup refer to dishes that can be eaten without the need of rice, these usually being dishes of Chinese or European origin. Chhang Plerng refers to the general term of Hotpot that are popular eaten during the dry "cold" season (winter) and during late night gatherings.

Khor, a hearty stew of pigs trotters with whole eggs flavoured with caramelised palm sugar, fish sauce and black Kampot pepper.
Name Description
Samlar machu (សម្លម្ជូរ) Actually denotes an entire class of samlor, whereby the dominant flavour is an aromatic, citrusy tartness, and there are many different versions. Of all the primary flavours (salty, sweet, spicy, sour, bitter, umami), Khmers are most fond of sourness, almost every town or province has its own unique version of samlor machu including samlor machu kroeung (featuring kroeung paste, turmeric, morning glory, coriander, stewed beef ribs and tripe), samlor machu Khmer Krom (featuring tomato, pineapple, catfish, lotus root and holy basil) and samlor machu Siem Reap (containing bamboo shoot and tiny freshwater shrimp). The sourness and citrus flavour can come from prahok, tamarind, lemongrass, kaffir lime, lime juice, or herbs like lemon basil.[4][5] It is cognate with the Vietnamese sour soup canh chua.
Samlor Kako (Khmer: សម្លកកូរ) Traditional dish soup of Cambodia. It's also considered as one of Cambodian's national dish. The soup base is created from a variety of vegetables that reflect the environment of rural Cambodia as well as the use of Prahok to create a tangy salty taste.
Babor (meaning porridge or rice pudding) (បបរ) Derived from the standard Chinese congee, this quintessential breakfast dish has many regional Cambodian incarnations. A type of porridge made with white rice, plain or with a chicken or pork broth, and served with fresh bean sprouts, caramelised garlic oil, green onions, omelette, fried breadsticks or dried fish from the Tonle Sap (trey ngeat). Babor pray is the name for the common marketplace dish of salted dried fish with rice porridge.
Kho (ខ ឬសម្លខ) Braised pork or chicken and egg stew flavored in caramelized palm sugar, fish sauce and black Kampot pepper. It may contain tofu or bamboo shoots and often substitutes quail eggs for chicken eggs. A typical Khmer Krom dish, khor is similar to the Vietnamese dish of Thịt Kho and the Filipino dish called humba.
Hong A braised Beef stew similar to Kho with the exception that it doesn't not feature eggs and the extensive use of dark soy sauce. The dish is also sweeter and saltier than Kho. This dish has origins from South Chinese migrants and is similar to Hongshao Rou.
Chap Chai A Khmer soup of Chinese origins, that is created with the use of cabbage, mushrooms, and quail eggs. The broth is clear and herbs are Cambodian addition in order to make the soup hearty.
Ngam nguv Is a chicken soup flavored with whole preserved lemons.
Samlar kari (សម្លការី) Is a traditional wedding and celebration dish, features coconut chicken curry gently spiced with paprika, and with a soupy consistency, often cooked with sweet potatoes, julienned onion, snake beans and bamboo shoot. The soup is also used as a dipping sauce for fresh baguettes, while nom ban chok samlor kari is often served for breakfast the next day, featuring the same ingredients to make nom ban chok but using the samlor kari broth instead of the traditional turmeric and fish-based broth that goes into making nom ban chok.[6]
Chhnang Plerng (meaning fire pot) Is the most common form of hot pot eaten in Cambodia in which a heated pot with a clear broth, meat, and assorted vegetables are eaten between family members. Chhnang Plerng is the general term for hotpot and there exist a variety of hotpot that undergo different names with mixed influences from China.
  • Yao hon or yaohon'(យ៉ៅហន): A banquet-style hot pot for dipping beef, shrimp, spinach, dill, napa cabbage, rice noodles and mushrooms. It differs from Cambodian Chhnang Plerng or other Asian hot pots in that it features a tangy coconut broth rather than a clear broth. It is similar to the Japanese sukiyaki, however, it is derived from the Chinese hot pot.
  • Chhnang Dei: A hot pot variety of Chap Chai soup that is eaten with Mee (egg noodles) or Mee Sua (threaded mung bean noodle).
  • Chhang Phnom Plerng (Volcano Hot Pot/ Cambodian BBQ): A unique Cambodian style BBQ similar to their Lao and Thai counterparts. It is served on a hotpot attached with a grill to allow meat to cook and secrete juices into the broth to allow the soup to become tastier over time.

Chha (Stir Fried Dishes) and Rice Dishes

The term Chha refers to stir frying techniques introduced by Chinese immigrants (from Hokkien Tshá).

Chhar khnyey Cambodian peppered chicken with julienned ginger root.
A famous specialty from Kep province, crab sauteed with green Kampot peppercorn
Name Description
Chha Kuy Teav (meaning stir-fried flat rice noodle) Is a Khmer version of a stir fried flat noodle dish that is a speciality of Southern regions of Cambodia. It often features the use of dark and sweet soy sauce and a different assortment of meats. It is topped with sauté scallions, egg, pork ham, and cuts of spring rolls.
Chha Kh'nhei (ឆាខ្ញី) (meaning stir-fried ginger) A spicy stir fry (chhar) of meat, usually chicken, eel or frog flavoured with julienned gingeroot, black Kampot pepper, garlic, soy and sometimes fresh jalapeños or fresh peppers, for extra heat.
Bai Chha (បាយឆា) Is a Khmer variation of fried rice which includes Chinese sausages, garlic, soy sauce, and herbs, usually eaten with pork..
Bai Sach Chrouk Is a common breakfast street food featuring rice, Chha Chiu-styled barbecue pork, egg (scrambled, steamed, fried, or caramelized), chive soup, Chrok (picked vegetables) or preserved radish, and soy sauce or fish sauce condiments.
Bai Moan (AKA Bai Sach Moan; meaning Chicken Rice) Is a Cambodian street food of Chinese origins from Hokkien and Hainanese immigrants from the 17th century. It is similar to Chinese Chicken Rice with the exception that lemon grass paste (kreoung) is mixed with the rice before being steamed.
Phak Lav Is a dish of caramelized/braised organs, both a home dish and popular street food. A similar dish exists in Vietnam called Phá Lấu.
Mee Chha A common street food where wheat yellow noodles are stirred fried with beef and vegetables and topped with an egg and gravy.
Trakuon Chha (stir-fried water spinach) Is a common vegetable dish eaten at dinners. The water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica) is stir fried in oil, garlic, red peppers, and minced pork, fermented soy beans, and soy sauce.
Lort Chha (meaning stir-fried "falling-out" noodle) Are Cambodian thick short tapoica noodles, with added eggs and chicken, eaten mainly with fish sauce. Lort refers to any substances that falls through a hole, as such, these are how the tapioca noodles are made. Variations exist in Thailand, Laos, and Hong Kong.
Mee Kantang (មីកាតាំង) Wide rice noodles in an oyster sauce typically stir fried with eggs, baby corn, carrots, Chinese kale (kai-lan), mushrooms and a choice of meat, usually beef. The name of the dish translates literally as Cantonese-style noodles in Khmer, revealing its origin among the early Cantonese community in Cambodia, while also being similar to the Thai dish rad na.
Mee Sua Cha (meaning stir-fried sewed noodles) Is a dish in which cellophane noodles are stir-fried with garlic, vegetables, mushrooms, and oyster, fish, and soy sauce. The dish is most commonly made during holidays such as Pchum Ben, or temple festivals to give to monks or to honor ancestors.
Mee Kola (meaning Kola noodle) Is a noodle dish created by the Kola ethnic minority in western provinces in Cambodia where the various Tai-Kadai influences are quite strong. The rice noodles are stir fried and seasoned with oyster sauce then place in a bowl where nuts, assorted vegetables and fish sauce are added. Meat variations of this dish exist in Khmer variations.
Mee M'poang (meaning crispy wheat noodle) A crispy fried noodle dish of Chinese origin that is topped off with fried beef and gravy.
Lok lak (ឡុកឡាក់) Stir-fried marinated, 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,[7] sea salt and black Kampot pepper (tek merec).[8] It is the Cambodian rendition of the Vietnamese dish Bò lúc lắc, which means "shaking beef" in Vietnamese. Regional variants include lok lak Americain, found in bistro menus in Phnom Penh, distinguished by the addition of chips (rather than rice) and a fried egg sunny side up.
Sach Chrouk Sa See (Char Siu) A Khmer rendition of Char Siu pork, this is often added in num pang sandwiches or and a common meat for Bai Sach Chrouk breakfasts.
Sach Chrouk Kvay (Kvay meaning to roast) A Chinese style-roasted pork that is commonly consumed with white rice, prahok or kapi (fish or shrimp paste), and raw vegetables. This technique only refers to a specific roasting technique created by the Chinese immigrants. Other forms of pork dishes are referred to as "ang" (meaning to grill, bake, etc.).
Kwah Ko/Kwah Chrouk Is preserved beef or pork liver, similar to Cantonese Lap Cheong.
Phahut A fish cake that is pounded and mixed with kreoung in a motor and pestle. It is then molded into a patty and deep fried. It is often eaten with rice, sweet fish sauce, and raw assorted vegetables.

Nhoam (Salads), Rolls, and Chamhoy (Steamed Foods)

Banh chiao, Cambodian-style crepe.
អាម៉ុកត្រី or Amok, a popular Khmer dish
Pleah, Beef salad with prahok (ប្រហុក).
Bok l'hong, a zesty salad of unripe green papaya, peppers and cherry tomato pounded in a mortar and pestle
Name Description
Kuy Teav Kat (Meaning Cut Flat Rice Noodle) Is a dish similar to Chinese Cheong Fun. A rice mixture is steamed where minced pork in added and rolled up then cut into smaller pieces. It is served with assorted vegetables, cut spring rolls, nuts, fish sauce, and pork ham. It is a speciality in the 'Phnom Penh and Ta Khmao areas.
Naem Chao (meaning raw rice paper) (Khmer: ណែម) A salad roll created from from steaming and trying rice paper, a Cambodian traditional technique featured in rice paper making farms in Battambang. Nem (meaning rice paper in Cambodia and Northern Vietnam) is slightly dipped in warm water where assorted vegetables and meats are added and wrapped like spring roll.
Chai Yor or Naem Chien (meaning fried spring roll, name depends on wrapper used) A Khmer fried-spring roll that has origins from Cantonese Influences (called Ceon Gyun). The recipe varies from province to province, household to household.
Num Porpear a dessert in which the wrapper originates from Chinese Popiah. This spring roll wrapper also exists in Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Porpear often serves as a wrapper for dessert for assorted meats, where many various dishes exist.
Nhoam (meaning "mixed raw vegetables or Asian salad") Is the general term for a variety of salad dishes that often feature cellophane noodles (mee sua), and boiled chicken and a variety of greens and flowers.
Ban hawy (បាញ់ហយ) Threaded noodle (also called Mee Sua, meaning "sewed rice noodles") that are served in a bowl with assorted vegetables, stir fried ground pork in soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce, and topped off with fish sauce and sweet coconut milk. Other variations include pork ham and grilled meat. This noodle is also common to offer to dead ancestors during holidays. Variations of this dish exist all over Southeast Asia.
Amok trey (អាម៉ុកត្រី) is probably Cambodia's most well-known dish amongst visitors; there are similar dishes found in neighboring countries. Freshwater fish fillet (commonly snakehead fish, or Mekong catfish) is covered with an aromatic kroeung (pounded shallots, lemongrass, garlic, kaffir lime), roasted crushed peanuts, coconut milk, and egg and then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed until it achieves a mousse-like texture. Unlike the Thai, Lao and Malaysian versions of the same dish, it is not intended to be spicy but rather fragrant, zesty and flavorful.[9]
Pleah sach ko (ភ្លាសាច់គោ) Lime and prahok-cured beef salad, sometimes also including beef tripe, tossed with thinly sliced purple Asian shallots, finely shaved radish, crushed roasted peanuts and fresh herbs such as mint and basil. Sometimes known as Cambodian beef ceviche, it is very popular at wedding and special occasions.
Bok L'hong (បុកល្ហុង) Khmer green papaya salad, pounded in a mortar and pestle. Related to Laotian Tam mak hoong, the salad may include the herb kantrop, Asian basil, string beans, roasted peanuts, cherry tomatoes, salted preserved small crabs, smoked or dried fish, and chili peppers. Mixed with a savory dressing of lime juice, fish sauce. [10]
Mam L'hong A Khmer green papaya salad that is similar to Bok L'hong with the exception that it features the use of Mam usually Kapi.

Num (Pastries)

Name Description
Num Pang (meaning Bread) Are sandwiches that are similar to their Laos and Vietnamese counterparts. They feature assorted meats, raw vegetables, and pickled vegetables as well as pate (called "Pat tae" in Khmer), butter, and mayo.
Num Pang Ang Sach Ang (meaning grill bread with grill meat) Is a finger food in which bread are cut into short pieces, brushed with butter and grilled slightly. They are served with satay meat skewers and pickled vegetables.
Num Pang Ang Prai M'tes (meaning grilled salty spicy bread) Is another variation of bread consumption where the whole bread is seasoned with butter, hot sauce, and salt and grilled continuously. The dish may be served by cutting the bread into square bitable pieces and served with chicken floss, pork ham, mayo, hot sauce, and sauté grilled spring onions. This is also an very popular street in Vietnam where it is called "Bánh mì Khơme (Khmer bread)" or "Bánh mì nướng muối ới" (grilled salty spicy bread).
Num Pav From Chinese Baozi or Ham Bao. It was introduce via Chinese immigrants and is a popular breakfast food where green and red Bao are also seen, created from pandan and dragon fruit skins.
Num Bong-Kaong Khmer shrimp cakes that are deep-fried in a ladle and eaten with various rice and noodle dishes.
Num pang chen (literally Chinese bread) Spring onion bread often referred as Chinese pizza. It combines Chinese and French style foods. It is flat and baked and fried simultaneously rather than simply being fried like its Chinese counterpart.[11]
Num Banh Chao (meaning sizzling rice snack) (បាញ់ឆែវ) A Khmer crepe made of coconut milk, rice flour and turmeric. Additionally, ground pork and bean sprouts are added in the middle to add flavor and contrast in texture, eaten with assorted vegetables and fish sauce. Another versions exist in Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Kralan (ក្រឡាន) A cake (nom) made from a mixture of rice with beans or peas, grated coconut and coconut milk, palm sugar and sometimes sesame, all steamed in a pole of bamboo that gets slowly roasted over charcoal. This dessert have its origins from Laos and Thailand where the dessert is called "Khao Lam" (meaning grilled rice).
Num Yip A yellow star-like dessert made of egg yolk, flour, and sugar.
Sankya Lapov (សង់ខ្យាល្ពៅ) A dessert made of pumpkin and coconut flan. It has its origins from Thailand when a Portuguese chef introduce the technique of a custard to the Thai king, coining the term "Sankya". This is often added into Cambodian pudding desserts called Cha Houy teuk.
Num Banh Duc A pandan dessert made with rice flour and tapioca starch.
Num Plae Ai (meaning Ai fruit cake) Is a tapioca dessert with a palm sugar filling and topped with coconut shavings. It is a traditional dessert featured in weddings along side husband and wife cake, and pandan desserts. It can be made with different colors adding a beautiful assortment of colors. It is also called "husband killing cake" because of how easy it is to choke on when consumed.
Num Poh Peay Is a glutinous rice flour dessert that is often called "cassava silkworms". The rice mixture is molded into a worm like shape and boiled, then topped off with coconut shavings, mung beans, and roasted sesame seed. It is eaten with sweet coconut milk.
Num Kaov/A'Kaov Is a steam cup cake made form rice flour. A Cambodian combines the use of sugar palm (Thnaot) create a white (coconut), yellow (sugar palm) and pandan (green) variation. This is a popular dessert street snack as well as served during traditional weddings.
Num Chak Chan A pandan and coconut milk 4 layered cake that is steamed. It is a common Southeast dessert and also featured within the dessert banquet in Khmer weddings.
Num Krok Is a Khmer, Thai (Khanom Krok), and Laos (Khao Nom Kok), coconut-based street food snack. Coconut milk is combined with rice flours with scallions added and cooked on a cast iron griddle with half-spherical moulds.
Num Ka'Chai (meaning Chive Cake) Is a Khmer street food snack of Chinese origin (Teochew "Gu Chai Kue" meaning Chive Cake). It is a rice dumpling combine with chives and fried on a hot surface resembling a think scallion pancake. In Cambodia, the cake is eaten in combination with other dishes to add texture or eaten with sweet fish sauce.
Num Pia A Chinese-Khmer cake that is popular to consume and give during the holidays. It is a specialty in the Siem Reap, Kampot, Phnom Penh, and Ta Khmau areas, and unique given the special red stamp on the top of the cake.
Num Kroch (meaning orange cake) Is a sesame ball of Chinese origin that is fried with a mung bean filling. It is called "orange cake" because of the shape and color after deep frying.
Num Kong (meaning bracelet cake) Is an Asian donut with origins from China that is deep fried and brushed pork lard and roasted sesame flakes. It is a legacy of Cambodia heavily made before the 1975 genocide and after and becoming a common occupation for Cambodian migrants abroad to open donut shops.
Num Pong (meaning egg cake) Is an Asian donut with origins from China, where the dough is deep fried and flaked with milk. It is dessert often seen in Asian stores of any kind abroad.
Chak Kwai (Chinese "chopstick" donut) Is a pastry imported by Hokkien immigrants. It is eaten with Cambodian Kuy Teav and Babor and also eaten with condense milk.
Num Poum (Khmer Coconut Waffle) A legacy of French Indochina that features a waffle made from rice flour and coconut milk and shavings.
Saku Dom (Pandan Tapoica pearls) A sweet pearl sago/tapioca pearl that is flavor with pandan leaves and pinches of salt.
Saku (Tapioca Dessert) A type of steamed dessert made from Chestnut flour, coconut milk, and cooked mung bean.

Bai Damnaeb (Sticky Rice Dishes) and Kiev (Dumplings)

Name Description
Num Sakoo (Meaning Tapoica Cake) a tapioca ball stuff with meat dish that is similar to the Thai Khanom Sakoo and Laos Khao Nom Sakoo. Minced meat is season and cooked then wrapped in a tapioca mixture and steamed. The dished in often served with vegetables and sweet sauce. A variation in Vietnam also exist called "Bánh ít trần" , as well as Malaysia and Indonesia.
Num Ansom chek (meaning Banana Rice dumpling) (អន្សមចេក) Is cylindrical rice cake wrapped in banana leaves and filled with bananas (sweet).
Num ansom chrook (អន្សមជ្រូក) Is a savory variation of a cylindrical rice cake filled with pork and mung bean. It is served during ancestor worship ceremonies and is often cut and deep fried and served with fish sauce and pickled vegetables.
Num Chang A glutinous rice dumpling made by steaming sweet rice in banana leaves. It is similar to Khmer Ansom except it is built in a triangular shape and have origins from Chinese-style Zongzi, therefore it may feature aged-garlic bulbs, beans and pork.
Num Kom A glutinous rice dumpling made by steaming rice flour in banana leaves. The shape is cylindrical and the fillings include grounded pork flavored with oyster, fish, and soy sauce.
Num Bot A glutinous rice dumpling made by steaming rice flour in banana leaves. The shape and texture of the rice is similar to Num Kom with the exception that the filling is only mung bean or palm sugar.
Num Kmei A glutinous rice dumpling made by steaming rice flour in banana leaves. The shape is cylindrical and the fillings include coconut shreds and palm sugar. It is popular to make during Pchum Ben.
Num Sai Soy Is a traditional rice dumpling that is made of glutinous rice flour, palm sugar, and pandan juice wrapped and steamed in banana leaves.
Siev Mai Is a Khmer rendition of a Chinese pork dumpling. In Khmer, it not only refers to the dumpling but refers to a style of meatball created by the southern Chinese immigrants in Phnom Penh.
Bai Damnaeb Turen (Durian Sticky Rice) A sticky rice dessert topped with sweet coconut milk and slices of durian fruit. Another variation include other fruit such as mango (Bai Damnaeb Svay).
Num Treap Is a sticky rice dessert that is slightly harden and topped off with roast sesame seed.
Bai Ben A sticky rice dessert that is molded into a ball and topped with sesame seeds. It is very popular during Pchum Ben.

Cha Houy (Jelly) and Babor P'aem (Pudding)

Cambodian cuisine features a variety of desserts similar to its Southeast Asian neighbors. Its assortment of puddings are called Cha Houy Tuek ("jelly") or Babor P'aem ("sweet porridge") depending on the ingredients of the dish. Agar Agar jelly desserts are collectively called "Sarai".

Name Description
Nom Lort A green dessert made from rice flour in a liquid of coconut, milk, water and sugar.[12]
Banh Cheneuk A rice dumpling dessert served in a ginger sauce similar to Chinese Tong Sui. The rice dumplings are steamed with a mung bean filling and placed in a ginger sauce which is often eaten when sick because of feng shui properties in food.
Thav Ker Khmer pronunciation of Chinese grass jelly, that is often eaten with soybean milk in a bowl during a hot day because of its cooling properties.
Sarai K'tiss A layered agar agar jelly dessert featuring pandan and coconut layer jelly.
Babor Skor Tau Suan (Mung Bean pudding) This authentic Khmer recipe have been around since the early century and became very popular after the visited from Chinese ambassador Zhou Daguan in 1296. The presentation was that the yellow mung bean meaning gold , and the tapioca sauce for water that representing the lucrative wealth of Khmer Empire that once ruled most South East Asia. Yellow mung bean pudding was Zhou Daguan favorite Khmer desserts during his stayed in Cambodia. Back then yellow mung bean pudding was renamed to Daguan. But through out the years the name changed again, first was Ta Guan short meaning for the honorable ambassador Daguan, then to Ta Xuan.

Superstitious people slurps this pudding to hope for richest and wealth. But others slurps yellow bean pudding because they loves the great taste of Khmer food. Sino Khmer Krom prefer this bean pudding with crispy, hot, cut up fried bread Chak Kvay.

Tur Tim Krop (Red Lotus Seed jelly) Tur Tim Grob, coconut milk based dessert that is very popular when the weather is hot. The small reddish/pinkish jewels are water chestnut covered with tapioca flour, served with sweeten coconut milk and shaved ice. Shredded jackfruit and jellied coconut flesh can be added to this dessert to make it extra special. Jellied coconut flesh occurs when the coconut lacks an enzyme that turns its flesh into a normal coconut flesh. The flesh continues to develop in the jelly state. Tur Tim, in Khmer word translated literally is either ruby or pomegranate.
Bang'Aem Sandaek Khiev (Green Bean Dessert) Green bean dessert is one of popular desserts for Cambodian. People usually having dessert after their lunch or after they are off from work in the evening. Dessert stalls are common in Phnom Penh and also mobile stalls which selling many kinds of popular Khmer dessert.
Chek K'tiss (Tapioca Banana Pudding) Ancient banana trees are everywhere, they are one of the most useful and sacred plants that have been in Cambodia for thousands of years. Banana plants are uses in many ways, we use the young banana blossom for cooking, and banana leaves for wrapping rice cakes and many other foods. Chopped banana stalks make great food for pig. Young green bananas taste great raw or cook. Ripped bananas we use for religious food offerings, eaten raw or turn into delicious desserts. There are so many varieties of banana available at the market, but the most prefer type of banana that Khmer Buddhists uses for food offering is ladyfinger (miniature) bananas.
Babor Skor Mien (Longan Pudding) A fresh fruit pudding featuring sweet coconut milk flavored with palm sugar and thickened with tapioca starch and topped with Longan.
Babor Skor Bot (Sweet Corn Pudding) A corn based pudding featuring sweet rice and coconut milk.
Babor Skor Krop Phka Chhuk Mien (Lotus Seed and Longan Pudding) A watery sugar-based dessert that can be served cold or warm. It features longan and lotus seeds and can also be served as a drink.


Name Description
Te Khiev (Green tea) A local tea beverage of Cambodia that is commonly served in restaurants either iced or hot.
Bia Angkor A locally made lager beer of Cambodia under the motto "My Country My Beer".
Kafe A popular beverage that is often served Iced or hot, a legacy of the French. It may be served black and strong, or milked with condensed milk to add a sweeter taste, it is generally thicker and sweeter than its Laos and Vietnamese counterparts.
  • Kafe Teuk Doh Ko/Kafe Blanc: Coffee with Milk
  • Kafe Khmao: Black strong coffee
Teuk Ampau Sugar cane juice extracted from squeezing sugar cane plant (sometimes with kumquats to add a hint of citrus flavour), served with ice.
Teuk Trolok (Smoothies) An important part of an evening’s consumption: juice stalls, recognizable by their fruit displays and blenders, set up in towns all over the country from the late afternoon. You can order a mixture of fruits to be juiced or just one or two; coconut milk, sugar syrup, condensed milk and shaved ice are also added, as is a raw egg (unless you specify otherwise – ot yoh pong mowan).
Teuk San Daek Is sold in the morning by street vendors; the green version is sweetened and thicker than the unsweetened white. A soybean drink served either hot or cold, sweetened or unsweetened.
Sra Sar (Rice wine/White wine) A distilled liquor made of rice and popular to consume during festivals. Sra Sol can also be used as a base for traditional Khmer medicinal remedies, which many claim can cure everything from muscle aches, fatigue and stomach disorders to menstrual cramps and labour pains.
Teuk Touy (Pandan Juice) A juice that is made from the extract of Pandan leaves that are usually served in Cambodian Hang Bai (Food Stalls).
Te Kroch Chhma Lemon iced tea.
Golden Muscle Wine A liquor made from deer antlers and chinese herbs.
Teuk Kroch (Lemonade/Soda/Sweet Beverage) Can be a general term to refer to a sweet drink or specifically sweet and sour limeade.
Sra Poas (Snake Wine) A liquor using snake as a base that is often used for medicinal purposes.
Teuk Thnaot (Sugar Palm Juice) A fermented drink made from sugar palm that is often popularized to be a laxative when consumed.
Sra Thnaot Chu (Sugar Palm Wine) Palm Wine has an important following in Cambodia. It is the traditional drink as true as palm trees dotting the Cambodian landscape are the national trees of the country. Toeuk thnaot is sold around the villages of Cambodia in wooden cylinders attached to the back of bicycles.

Southern Khmer/Khmer Krom Dishes

The Khmer Krom are ethnic Khmer indigenous to large areas of what is today southern Vietnam. Khmer Krom cuisine is a fusion of traditional Khmer cooking with locally available ingredients and Vietnamese influences. Khmer culture is also especially influential in the Vietnamese cuisine of southern Vietnam. This is most evident in the sweetness of Vietnamese food and the wider variety of tropical herbs that are now shared by both Vietnam and Cambodia since the 17th century when Vietnam took control of the Mekong Delta region away from the remnants of the Khmer Empire. As a result, traditional Khmer cooking is an important component of Vietnam's diverse cuisine.


  1. Recipes 4 Us Cooking by Country: Cambodia Accessed 21 July 2007.
  2. Star Chefs Five main Cambodian ingredients Accessed 21 July 2007.
  3. The Worldwide Gourmet Saveurs du Cambodge All you want to know about Cambodian Cuisine Accessed 21 July 2007.
  4. Lisa Jorgenson, Bonny Wolf Cambodian sweet-and-sour soup Accessed 24 July 2007
  5. Leisure Cambodia Khmer Sour Soup Accessed 23 July 2007
  6. Chicken Curry Curry Mouan Accessed 26 July 2007
  7. Dudley Brown More than a meal in store Accessed 25 July 2007
  8. Phil Lees Phnomenom Loc Lac Accessed 22 July 2007
  9. Mass Recipes Amok Trey Fish Mousselline Accessed 22 July 2007
  10. Tamarind Trees Bok Lhong Accessed 10 July 2008
  11. "Spring Onion Bread: Khmer focaccia | Phnomenon: food in Cambodia". Phnomenon. 2006-10-24. Retrieved 2012-06-15.
  12. Nom Lote Khmer recipe Accessed 26 January 2013.

Further reading

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