Khmer Flavors, Siem Reap

Green Papaya Salad

Amok, national dish of Cambodia

Like other Southeast Asian regions, Cambodian foods have the hot, sour and spicy flavors from chilies, limes, tamarind, palm sugar, fresh herbs and spices such as lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, cilantro, sweet basil, ginger and turmeric. Crusty baguettes spread with pate are sold all over by vendors. We tried many interesting dishes and snacks as we walked around. Amok (or amok trei), a mild turmeric, galangal and coconut milk based fish curry steamed in banana leaves and served with a bowl of steaming rice. Fish based dishes form the backbone of Khmer cooking as seen in their soups, condiments, meals, sausages and sauces. The famous Cambodian shredded green papaya and unripe mango salads with fresh herbs and fish sauce dressing was especially delicious with its wonderful textures and combination of flavors! My favorites were amok and shredded mango salad.

Like All Southeast Asians, Khmers use some distinct pastes and sauces to season their dishes or to marinate their meats and seafood. Prahok or prahoc, made from fermented fish, salt and rice, tastes like nam pla that Thais use or nuoc mam that Vietnamese use. It is generally used to flavor meats and vegetables. Kreung or kroeung, often used to season fish and meat dishes has garlic, shallots, limes, lemongrass, chilies, and local green herbs.

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Categories: Cambodia, Spotlight, Tastes

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