Written by iHeartKhmer, May 1, 2019
Cambodia is a very unique country, in which is still recovery from a total devastation of its culture from several years ago. At one time the Khmer people were ruled by what is known as the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge stripped them of everything that they once knew, including the food that made them comfortable. Luckily for us, food recipes is something that can easily stay within someone’s memories, so while much of the culture was lost, their culture in the aspect of food still lives strong.
In Cambodia tropical fruits, rice, noodles, drinks, desserts, and various soups are popular among the Khmer Cuisine (food served in Cambodia). Almost every meal contains rice in some way, so rice is known as the country’s staple food, with the second being noodles.
Cambodian dishes are much influenced from its neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam, China, France, and India. A major difference is that the Khmer food is considerably less spicy than its neighbors. An interesting fact that most people do not know about Khmer food is that many of the south-east Asia dishes were in fact influenced by the Khmer Kingdom over a thousand years ago.
Some people Consider Cambodian food simple to prepare and bland to the taste, but the Khmer food really is a work of art. While Cambodian food is less spicy and involves fewer ingredients, its saving ingredient is the combination of herbs and seasonings. Cambodian cooking is simply to compare, but unique in its ways.
Cambodian food differs so much from other Asian food because Cambodia still uses the ways of the Khmer Kingdom, while other south-east Asia countries were influenced by the Portuguese in the 16th century and began making food spicier with ingredients such as red chilies. Cambodia stuck with the original recipes, and never gained a taste for the spicier foods. Cambodians believe in allowing each individual to spice their own food to taste, so while the food is not served spicy, they will provide you with red chilies or spicy sauce.
Cambodia is well known for a fish paste that they use in their traditional dishes, it is called Prahok. The Prahok recipe originated from the Cambodian’s attempting to preserve the fish during the winter. They would crush, salt, and ferment the fish. There are two major types of prahok; uncooked prahok and a mild prahok that is of higher quality. Uncooked prahok is generally used by the Cambodians as a vegetable dip, while the higher quality of prahok is used in a majority of Cambodian recipes.
Another type of food Cambodians are known for is their curry. Unlike its neighboring countries, Cambodian curry is relatively sweet. The Khmer people use sweet potatoes to give their curry a rather sweet taste, rather than spicy. Cambodians also use mkak seeds, which gives the curry its red color to make it appear as spicy.
Cambodians are very unique compared to other countries around south-east Asia, but yet extremely traditional. This should not catch us off guard because the Khmer people are all around traditional folk, and they are always conserving their tradition through food, music, dancing, and their daily actions.