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Cambodian Cuisine and Recipes

Information about Cambodian Cooking plus lots of Cambodian Recipes Collection


Cooking by Country  -  December 2003


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Go to:-    Cambodian Featured Ingredient  |  Cambodian Speciality Dish  |  Cooking by Country Main Page



Cambodia is situated in South East Asia and has borders with Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. It consists of mainly flat low lying plains, mountainous regions in the north and southwest. Its coastline of 443 km and a huge freshwater lake play important roles in the cuisine.


Cambodian cuisine could be described as Thai without the heat,  although this would bely its true nature. It takes some of the best qualities from Chinese, Indian and Thai cuisines and blends them into a unique and delicious culinary experience.



Ancient Times and Influences on Cambodian Cooking


There is archeological evidence to show that the inhabitants of parts of the region which is now known as Cambodia were practicing simplistic Neolithic crop growing and stock rearing by the first and second centuries B.C.  But by the first century A.D.  the peoples who had settled there  (believed to have migrated from southeastern China)  had developed relatively stable and ordered societies. The most advanced of these lived along the coast and in the areas surrounding the Mekong River valley and Tonle Sap (The Great Lake), where they cultivated rice, kept domesticated animals and harvested the bounties from both sea and lake.  Rice, Fish and seafood were the main staples in their diet.


By the 3rd Century AD an economy based on fishing and rice cultivation brought about the inevitable trade with neighbouring countries and encouraged a wave of Indian immigrants arriving during the 4th and 5th  centuries.  An extensive system of canals and reservoirs built by the 9th century ensured the further success of rice growing, creating even larger surpluses of rice for trading purposes and bringing more immigration with Thai peoples arriving during 10th to the 15th centuries. Both the Indians and the Thais brought with them their culinary ideas and cultures, many of which were assimilated into the Khmer cuisine.


Europeans arrived during the 16th Century  and due to various political  power struggles in the region throughout the preceding centuries, it seemed prudent to the Khmer rulers to seek outside help to retain their control. This took the form of a French Protectorate in 1863. The French introduced baked bread in the form of baguettes and frogs legs.  The further immigration of Vietnamese labourers to work in the rubber and corn industries which became important to the economy by the 20th century,  introduced yet another facet to the culinary traditions of the Khmer.


Current Day Cambodian Cuisine


Rice remains a main staple in current day cuisine, being eaten as often as three times a day with noodles as an alternative. The Great  Lake (Tonle Sap) and the sea are still the main provider of protein in the Cambodian diet, providing  bountiful amounts seafood and fish, although meats such as beef, pork or chicken are also eaten, albeit in much small quantities, and are usually sliced or minced and used more as a flavouring.


Fresh vegetables and fruit are also widely used as ingredients as are, lime juice and coconut milk and both fish sauce and fish paste (prahok), all of which give Cambodian food its unique flavour. Kaffir lime, galangal, turmeric, garlic, lemon grass, tamarind and ginger are common spices used in cooking and together create a subtle balance of  salty, sweet, sour and bitter  making it one of the world's most interesting, healthiest and balanced cuisines.


A typical Cambodian meal today normally consists of a soup, a salad, a main fish dish, vegetables and rice. Cambodian desserts are normally based on fresh fruits and sticky rice



Cambodian Recipes - Click here for lots of Cambodian Recipes


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