Cambodian Culture: FOOD

Samples of Khmer cuisine: Various bowls of curry, meat, vegetables

By Momoko Ikeuchi

Food is energy for our artists – what do they eat? Khmer food!

As you may have seen in our shows, the artists and musicians work so hard to wow the audience from the very beginning to end of the show. Where does their energy come from? – Their soul, Khmer food! Eating good food healthily is so important for them to stay energized so they can perform lively. What is Khmer food that they enjoy eating every day?

What is Cambodian/Khmer Food?

To know Khmer food, you need to be introduced to their specialty; Pra hok – it is traditional fermented fish paste. Cambodians love to eat it with some raw vegetables and they also use it as an ingredient in almost every kind of dish that they cook daily. It’s very salty and has a strong fish smell. The fish is caught from the Tonle Sap Lake. So Cambodians often ask foreigners, “Can you eat Pra hok?” expecting you would say “no” because Cambodians think the traditional paste is too intense for foreigners. If you, however, eat Prahok, you will surely leave a big impression with the locals.


Photo Credit: Senleaphea Mam

Samlor(= soup) is their favorite type of meal and it can be made in many different ways with different ingredients and tastes. Especially Samlor Mchu is typical soup Cambodian people cook and eat at home. It has a sour taste and is made with vegetables and fish.  Rice is a main food here and Cambodians cannot be missed in any meal. They like to eat rice poured over with some Samlor Soup.

Sharing is caring

Another significant aspect about the eating culture here is that they are happy to share food with everyone. If you pass by your Cambodian friends having a meal or snack, they stop you and say” hey would you like some?“ This happens not only with your friends or anyone you know but even with people you never know. For instance, in a bus, a passenger next to you might share some fruits or snacks with you after they bought at a pit stop on the way. It’s such a lovely, warm moment you could encounter in Cambodia.

market photo

Photo Credit: Momoko Ikeuchi

Go eat local food– where to eat?

Food is one of the big things you can enjoy while travelling abroad. The popular Khmer food introduced often to tourists is Amok. We have it at you at Phare Café if you would like to try. If you are more curious and want to dive deeper into local tastes, go to Psar Chas, or Old market. There are many different kind of food options, from Cambodian sweets to dried fish to other dishes eaten with rice. You will enjoy and know more about Khmer culture and people through authentic food experiences. Tos, Nham bai! (= let’s go to eat)


You May Also Like…

Siem Reap Giant Puppet Parade

Siem Reap Giant Puppet Parade

The Giant Puppet Project and Parade: A Vibrant Celebration of Art and Community in Siem Reap, Cambodia Siem Reap, a...