The Nerdy Nomad

Running Amok with Cambodian Food

We’ve discovered what’s good for our wallets can also be good for our bellies. We’ve switched over to eating half our meals at markets and street stalls, where each meal is around $1. At the central market in Phnom Penh, we ate noodles made from sheets of rice paper snipped with scissors right into the bowl, with a handful of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, some coconut cream, and a sweet chilli sauce, topped with a fried spring roll also snipped with scissors and some unidentified meat that looked vaguely like bologni. As a sidenote, the Central Market itself is a grandiose example of French Art Deco architecture, and was recently restored. The train station is another nice French Art Deco building but sadly I did not snap a photo…

The recently restored Central Market

Another view of the Central Market courtesy of Stephanie

4 types of rice noodles served with spring rolls

Today we found a lady selling soup at a stall. We knew it was good/clean because lots of Cambodians were eating there. She had a whole cooked chicken on a chopping block in front of her. Several of its peers were roaming around nearby, unaware of their fate… but also a pretty good indication of the freshness of the meat! She handed us a bowl brimming with boiling hot broth with rice. With a huge meat cleaver, she chopped up some of the chicken and deposited it onto our soup along with some herbs. The way these women handle meat cleavers it’s a wonder they haven’t chopped off several fingers – they do it almost without looking and so fast!! We seasoned with fresh lime, fresh chilli paste and an unidentified sauce that was handed to us. With my first spoonful, I nearly cried, but it certainly cleared my sinuses.

To me food is truly one of the best parts of traveling, to the point where Steph and I took the plunge yesterday and signed up for a Khmer cooking class! We spent the evening cooking fish Amok, the national dish (in the family of curry), as well as a sour beef soup with lemongrass, green mango salad, and banana flower salad. We also learned how to make sticky rice with mango, which is so easy that I could probably replicate it without a recipe when I get back (the secret ingredient is condensed milk, which is what people here put in their coffee). The other dishes might be a bit harder to replicate, what with all the ingredients being impossible to find in Europe or North America…

Chefs for a night

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This entry was published on May 2, 2011 at 9:32 am. It’s filed under Cambodia and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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