5 Traditional Khmer Dishes to Try in Cambodia

Before I arrived in Cambodia, I had no idea what kind of food I would be looking forward to. I knew from looking at maps that Cambodia bordered Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, but wondered what kinds of influence surrounding countries and immigrants had on the country’s cuisine. It turns out that Khmer food uses a variety of spices and herbs that make dishes light up your taste buds!

Here are five traditional Khmer dishes that you should try when you’re in Cambodia:

  1. Amok is a very popular dish in Cambodia where a protein (usually fish) is stewed in a coconut-based curry along with some vegetables.
    IMG_3945
  2. Prahok is fermented fish paste that is a huge staple in Cambodia. For many people, prahok is the protein in meals because when other fresh proteins are not in abundant supply, this paste could be created and preserved for a long time. I hear it’s not a palatable flavor for Westerners, but I’m determined to try it once before I leave 🙂
  3. Num mi jup (forgive me for my poor Romanization!) also known as Khmer noodle soup, is typically a noodle soup with fish and a bunch of other ingredients concocted together to make a delicious soup. My boss took us to this local restaurant in the village to try the authentic soup!
    IMG_3049
  4. Any dish with Kampot pepper! This pepper is grown and produced in the Kampot province. This pepper is grown on a little stalk and looks kind of like the musical instrument of a bunch of bells on a stick
  5. Street food is kind of a big category, but I couldn’t just pick one. There is a large variety of street foods that are sold, such as noodle or rice dishes, preserved fruit, boiled peanuts, insects, skewers, and more!
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Recipe: Dry-cooked Noodle Soup

Despite the consistent 90+ degree weather in Agua Caliente, I was never able to give up my love for soup! My host sister prepared this really simple noodle soup and it only took 3 ingredients: onion, tomato, and pasta noodles!

 

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I WISH my pasta looked this good!

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 tomatoes, depending how tomatoey you want your soup to be
  • pasta noodles
  • 1 touch of cooking oil
  • salt

Making this soup is so easy that I think it’ll be my go-to whenever I’m craving a quick and easy noodle soup made with readily available ingredients while I’m here.

Steps:

  1. Dice your onion and tomatoes into small little cubes.
  2. Heat up your pot and add a bit of oil.
  3. Throw your pasta noodles into the pot and let it turn golden brown while you stir it so it’s evenly tanned.
  4. Add the onions, tomato, salt into the pot and stir together with about 1-2 cups of water, depending how much soup you want when you’re done.
  5. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes on low heat, stirring every 5 minutes.

 

Recipe: Quinoa Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing (Vegetarian/Vegan)

Ever since getting back from Mexico, I’ve been wanting to eat less meat and go back to my old routine I set for myself at school eating as little meat as possible. This past weekend, I was craving some mixed greens with quinoa, topped with a honey mustard dressing that my bf had learned to make. It tastes pretty good and can be pretty filling with the quinoa, if you’re afraid you don’t have enough protein in your meal.

quinoa salad

Ingredients (makes 4 servings):

  • a box of mixed greens
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 bell peppers
  • a box of cherry tomatoes
  • a box of white mushrooms
  • 2 avocados
  • 4 tbsp honey **use agave syrup for a vegan alternative**
  • 4 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Rinse the avocados, tomatoes, mushrooms, mixed greens, and bell peppers and drain.
  2. Use one cup of quinoa and two cups of water and bring to a boil, and then let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Mix the honey, mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste to make your dressing.
  4. Slice up your bell peppers and mushrooms and set them aside.
  5. Dice the avocado into small pieces (cut one for two servings).
  6. Put a bed of mixed greens and top it with the peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, avocado, and quinoa (decide how much you want since it’s a LOT).
  7. Drizzle the dressing and you’re good to go; a perfectly healthy and vegan meal ready to enjoy 🙂

Recipe: Aguachile

Looking for a refreshing merienda (snack) for a hot, summer day? Look no further, as aguachile is all you’ll ever need (aside from the obvious choices of fresh fruit!) A traditional Mexican dish, aguachile is made up of shrimp marinated in lime juice, cucumbers, onions, and something spicy!

Aguachile.JPG

Ingredients // Ingredientes:

  • fresh shrimp // camarones
  • 2-3 cucumbers // pepinos
  • 1-2 red onions // cebollas rojas
  • lots of limes // muchos limónes
  • chili peppers of your choice // cualquier chile picante que quiere
  • tostadas (for serving)

Steps // Proceso:

  1. Peel the shell and clean the shrimp. // Pela la cáscara y limpia los camarones.
  2. Cut up the peppers, cucumbers and onions into slices. // Corta los chiles, pepinos, y cebollas.
  3. Squeeze the juice from all of your limes. // Exprime todo el jugo de los limónes.
  4. Put all of the ingredients together and mix. // Junta todos los ingredientes y mezcla.
  5. Put it on a tostada and enjoy! // Come con una tostada y ya. ¡Buen provecho!

Recipe: Sope (Savory Mexican “Pancakes”)

I promised to introduce more Mexican recipes, so here’s another one! Here is a recipe to make sope, which I can best define it as a small savory Mexican pancake made with masa (dough). You can put toppings on each sope, and from my understanding, these are always savory! I visited one of my participants who demonstrated how to make sope and incorporated Moringa in the dish! It was deeeelish 🙂

Sopes with Chicken and Moringa (con Pollo y Moringa)

Ingredients // Ingredientes :

  • to make chicken broth infused with Moringa // caldo de pollo con Moringa
    • a handful of Moringa leaves // hojas de Moringa
    • 2-3 chicken breasts // pechuga de pollo
    • 2 tbsp dried oregano
    • 1 onion // cebolla
    • salt // sal
  • to make masa
    • blended poblano peppers (optional) // chile poblano liquado
    • chicken broth // caldo de pollo
    • flour // masa de harina
  • to season the chicken
    • black pepper // pimiento negro
    • 3 cloves of garlic // ajo
    • a pinch of saffron // azafrán
    • cumin // comino

Steps // Proceso :

  1. Boil water and add the chicken breast, Moringa leaves and let it cook until the chicken is fully cooked. // Hierve agua y pone pechuga y hojas de Moringa.
  2. Add oregano, onion, and salt to taste. // Pone oregano, cebolla, y la sal hasta que le gusta el sabor.

    IMG_8993
    Caldo de pollo con Moringa
  3. Take out the chicken breast and shred them. //Saca el pollo y hace trizas.
  4. To make the dough, add the flour and the chicken broth and knead until it’s like dough. // Para hacer masa, añade harina y caldo y mezcla.
  5. Heat a pan and add enough oil to submerge the dough in order to fry it. // Calenta una sartén y pone aceite para sumergir la masa para freír.
  6. Roll the dough into small balls, flatten them and place them into the pan. // Hace bolitas con la masa, aplana las bolitas, y pone en la sartén.

    Sope
    Sopes con Moringa!
  7. Use a blender and blend chicken broth, black pepper, garlic, saffron, and cumin to make a sauce for the chicken. // Mezcla pimiento negro, ajo, azafrán, comino,y el caldo para hacer salsa.
  8. Heat another pan and add the chicken and the sauce. // Calenta una otra sartén y pone pollo y la salsa.

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    Adding the sauce onto the chicken breast
  9. When the sopes are golden brown, take them out and let them drain of extra oil. // Cuando los sopes estan dorados, sacan y secan.
  10. Put the chicken on top of the sope and enjoy! // Pone pollo encima de los sopes.¡Buen provecho!

Recipe: Vegetarian Ceviche

Hey everyone 🙂 I learned another recipe from my host family this past week: ceviche de coliflor, otherwise known as vegetarian ceviche. This recipe replaces seafood with cauliflower florets shredded into fine pieces and is great as a meal when the weather is suuuper hot! My host family likes to prepare this because it’s really quick to prepare and because my host brothers are even willing to eat this despite the lack of carne (meat) in the dish haha.

Making ceviche de coliflor3

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 tomatoes
  • (optional) 2 cucumbers
  • 1-2 limes

Steps:

  1. Chop off the leaves from the cauliflower head and break it apart into smaller than fist-sized florets.
  2. Soak them in salt water to disinfect for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Shave the skin off of the carrots and use a grater to get fine carrot strips.
  4. Repeat Step 3 for cucumbers if you have them.Making ceviche de coliflor2.JPG
  5. Peel the outer layer of the onion and dice into fine pieces.
  6. Dice the tomatoes into fine pieces.
  7. After the cauliflower has been soaked thoroughly, drain the water and grate the florets. You can also grate the stalks or save them for cooking something else (avoid food waste)!
  8. Mix all of the vegetables together and squeeze the lime juice into the mix and add pinches of salt to taste.

Ceviche de coliflor

 

Recipe: Tacos Dorados

While I’m in Mexico living with a host family, I’m determined to learn as many dishes as possible! Tacos dorados don’t seem too difficult to make, and might not be the healthiest (because it’s deep fried in oil), but I felt like sharing it with you in case you wanted something different from the typical tacos and burritos that you know Mexican cuisines for :3

pozoles y taco dorado
Tacos dorados on the left, pozoles on the right!

Ingredients:

  • lots of tortilla skins, corn (maiz) or flour (harina), your choice!
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes (papas)
  • 1 onion (cebolla)
  • 2-3 tomatoes (tomates)
  • (optional) meat (carne) such as chicken, pork, or beef
  • (optional) a few cloves of garlic (ajo)
  • cooking oil (aceite)

Steps:

  1. Scrub down your potatoes and boil them for 15-20 minutes and let cool.
  2. If you’re going to cook with meat, steam the meat until it’s tender and then shred it into fine pieces.
  3. Dice the tomatoes, onion, and garlic into fine pieces.
  4. Heat up a pan and add a touch of oil and sauté the tomatoes, onion, and garlic until they’re a paste-like consistency.Preparing tacos dorados2
  5. Peel the skin from the potatoes and mash them.
  6. Add the potatoes (and meat) to the paste mix until they’re thoroughly mixed together.
  7. Pour cooking oil into a pot until it’s about 5-8 inches filled and heat the pot at medium heat.
  8. Take a tortilla skin, lay it flat, and spoon one spoonful of the tacos dorado mix into the center and fold it flat. Repeat until you used up all of your mix!
    • You want to use a lasa (string) to stagger stack six tacos on top of each other at a time and tie them up firmly. Preparing tacos dorados
  9. Take each stack of tacos and place it gently into the oil, making sure it’s fully submerged. Depending on the size of your pot, you can put more than one stack at a time.
  10. Keep an eye on each stack and flip them maybe after 5-10 minutes, depending on the heat of your oil, until you see a nice golden brown tortilla skin. When you get the color you want, take it out of the pot and lay it on paper towels to drain some of the oil.

After it cools a bit, you’re ready to eat tacos dorados! This makes for a great party dish since it can make so many tacos to feed a large group of people 🙂 Hope you enjoyed! Buen provecho!