1. Fish Amok
Fish Amok is one of the most well-known Cambodian dishes and easily find similar meals in neighboring countries. The addition of slok ngor, a local herb that imparts a subtly bitter flavor, separates the Cambodian version from the pack.
Fish Amok is a fish mousse with fresh coconut milk and kroeung, a type of Khmer curry paste made from lemongrass, turmeric root, garlic, shallots, galangal and fingerroot, or Chinese ginger. At upscale restaurants, fish amok is steamed in a banana leaf, while more local places serve a boiled version that is more like a soupy fish curry than a mousse.
2. Khmer Red Curry
Less spicy than the curries of neighboring Thailand, Khmer Red Curry is similarly coconut-milk-based but without the overpowering chili. The unique dish features beef, chicken (or fish), eggplant, green beans, potatoes, fresh coconut milk, lemongrass and kroeung. Khmer red curry is usually served with bread, a remnant of the French influence on Cambodia.
This delicious dish is usually served at special occasions in Cambodia such as weddings, family gatherings and religious holidays like Pchum Ben, or Ancestor's Day, where Cambodians make the dish to share with monks in honor of the departed.
3. Pepper Crab
The Southern province of Kampot, right on the coastline, is known for two things: fresh seafood and peppercorn farms. These two ingredients unite in this rustic dish of fresh crab stir-fried with plentiful green peppercorns still attached to the stem. The pepper imbues the sweet crab meat with a lingering floral flavor, but be sure to eat a few of the peppercorns whole for a spicy kick.
4. Beef Loc Lac
This stir-fried beef dish, prepared with plenty of oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sometimes palm sugar, is served throughout the country. Traditionally paired with rice to absorb the sweet brown sauce, it’s also becoming common to see loc lac served with french fries or a fried egg on top.
5. Nom Banh Chok
Nom Banh Chok is a beloved Cambodian dish, so much so that in English it's called simply "Khmer noodles." Nom Banh Chok is a typical breakfast dish and you'll find it sold in the mornings by women carrying it on baskets hanging from a pole balanced on their shoulders.
The dish consists 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 also heaped on top. There is also a red curry version that's usually reserved for ceremonial occasions and wedding celebrations.
This unique and smell dish will be strange to tourists and they will find it an acquired taste. Prahok is made with various fish and methods of fermentation. Fish used include mudfish and moonlight gourami.
Usually added to local dishes, it can also be served alone alongside rice and a side salad. The crushed, salted and fermented fish paste is used in abundance as a seasoning, adding a strong salty flavor. Its strong smell has earned it the nickname of Cambodian cheese.
7. Twa Ko
Twa Ko, known as a Cambodian sausage is made from beef or pork and various spices. Just like any good homemade sausage, the authentic Khmer sausage contains at least 20-25% fat. Some prefer to use pork belly as the main ingredient; it definitely serves the purpose well. Twa Ko can be eaten on its own in barbecued, grilled or pan-fried style or served with steamed rice and fresh vegetables.
8. Cha Houy Teuk
One of the most refreshing desserts is Cha Houy Teuk, a sweet jelly dessert made with agar, gelatin that is derived from seaweed. The jelly can be brightly colored in pinks and greens, making it especially popular with children. Combined with sago, bleached mung beans and coconut cream, Cha Houy Teuk is usually served in a bowl with a scoop of shaved ice. Some have sticky rice or sago drenched in coconut milk and topped with taro, red beans, pumpkin and jackfruit.
9. Kuy Teav (Noodle soup)
Kuy Teav is a noodle soup made from pork or beef stock and rice vermicelli and toppings including bean sprouts and green onions. A variety of meat choices can be added, such as pork, chicken, fish balls and beef as well as seafood. In some places, it’s served alongside sweet, spicy, garlic sauce and a small slice of fresh lime. This is when the real flavours start. Head to the open-air food stalls at any market; you will find kuy teav shops within no time.
10. Bai Sach Chrouk
This well-loved Cambodian breakfast dish is found at roadside vendors in the early hours of the morning. The simple and yummy Bai Sach Chrouk is pork marinated with garlic, and sometimes coconut milk, before slowly grilling on a wire rack set over burning charcoal, and then served with broken or fractured rice and a small bowl of clear chicken broth as well as some fresh vegetables.