Khmer New Year, or Chaul Chnam Thmey, is coming up soon and visions of three day long parties have my thoughts going (quite predictably, as my friends can tell you) to food. I have often been asked, “what is Cambodian food like?” and my first answer is always, “delicious!”
Throughout production, the crew only had a few western meals and quickly developed favorites among the local cuisine: fish amok curry, beef lok lak, and Khmer-style spring rolls. There were many other amazing dishes I’ll always remember*, but these will forever light up our eyes when seen on a menu.
Our schedule was very full and we ended up with only one free day during our shoot in Cambodia to do what we wanted. It was quickly decided that the morning should be dedicated to learning some of the incredible dishes we’d been trying for the past few weeks. I was excited to learn some recipes to bring a little of the amazing country I was learning to love back home with me to share with friends and family.
We went to Nary’s Kitchen in Battambang and were told by an exuberant host named Toot that we were going to learn to make fish amok curry, beef lok lak, and Khmer-style spring rolls! Excited and curious, we followed Toot to the local market where vendors sat with buckets and baskets bursting with the bright colors of fresh produce. There our host hilariously proceeded to carefully name and explain all of the roots, fruits, and vegetables that were actually familiar to westerners like us while ignoring all of the things we couldn’t identify. I asked about some mysterious foliage collected neatly in stacks and was told they were morning glories, although unfortunately not the same kind currently taking over my backyard. After purchasing our ingredients, we walked back to the restaurant for the lesson, which was fun and informative. And the food? Almost overwhelmingly delicious.
If you have yet to try Cambodian food, I urge you to do yourself a favor and make it happen!
Great now I’m hungry,
*pumpkin curry, ansom chek, whole fish in lemongrass, and nom banh chok…..
Recipe for Beef Lok Lak
Simple to make, extremely delicious, and quite healthy.
Serves 1 and easily multiplied!