Cruising Cambodia on a motorbike allowed us the opportunity to get away from the touristy areas and get stuck into some diverse street food. A few of the street foods we consumed in Cambodia included nom pang, num kachay, kuy teav, ang dtray-meuk, kralan, as well as BBQ rat, grilled water snake, fried worms, crickets and beetles.
Tips on eating cheap in Cambodia – Street food is so much cheaper than eating in the restaurants and, more often than not, it is much tastier. Go further afield for cheaper and more authentic street food. Go to where the locals eat and enjoy eating amongst them. You will find they really do appreciate having foreigners enjoy eating their national dishes and, of course, rejoicing in their cooking.
Nom Pang – the pork baguette – is a delicious remnant of the French colonial period in Cambodia (1863-1953). Our favourite is the pork baguette with several different types of pork, including a spread of pork mince, pork sausage and roast pork. Nom Pang will usually include pickled vegetables and sometimes up to three different sauces. They are so delicious! You can also buy egg, fish, ham and chicken baguettes, as well as many other options.
In popular tourist places such as Angkor Wat, you pay USD $2, in Battambang we had the biggest baguettes full of meat and veg for USD $1.25. One of my favourites was a cheap USD $0.75.
Num Kachay – chive cake – this traditional Cambodian food comes in two varieties. Round fried cakes with rice flour dough on the outside and a green filling of chives (and spinach I think), or it can be bought as a square cake in which the chives are blended into the rice flour mixture. We tried the round filled num kachay and really enjoyed them.
Kuy Teav – noodle soup – This is a popular breakfast dish in Cambodia, and is typically sold by vendors before midday. The delicious broth is made from pork or beef bones. This noodle soup is served with beef, chicken or pork, it will often include pork or beef balls. Garnished with bean sprouts, lettuce or sawtooth leaves and a lot of fresh herbs; this soup is colourful, tasty and filling. Condiments on offer will usually include chilli – fresh, dried, pickled or chilli sauce – pepper, lime, sliced garlic, soy sauce and sugar. Dwayne loves noodle soups so we often had this for breakfast.
Ang Dtray-Meuk – grilled squid – You can usually find seafood hawkers with small charcoal-burning grills on the streets. At the popular seaside town of Kep, there is an abundance of skewered barbecuing squid for sale at the ‘Crab Markets’. The squid are usually lightly marinated with lime juice or fish sauce.
Amongst the freshly caught seafood, for sale, at the “Crab Markets” there is a profusion of barbecued seafood for sale, such as barbecued prawns and barbecue fish sandwiched between split bamboo skewers. There was also a fantastic array of fish cakes and prawn cakes.
Roadside Barbecues – rat, chicken, fish, snake and quail
Dwayne loves his barbecued meat and, on a ride from Siem Reap to Battambang, Dwayne felt like something barbecued. We stopped to buy lunch at a roadside BBQ and we were a little shocked by what they were cooking. BBQ rat! Never one to miss an opportunity to try something different we bought a rat, which they served to us with a little salt & pepper mix and limes. The rat was delicious… and I know its been said before about many foods but….it did taste like chicken! These rats are caught amongst the rice fields and are considered a delicacy. Read more about the BBQ rat here!
Other barbecued meat we found at the roadside during our ride around Cambodia included fish, quail, chicken pieces and skewers of chicken. Away from the main cities very few Cambodian’s speak english so we often had to point to what we wanted and then held up one or two fingers to indicate how many or how much of a certain food we wanted. The Cambodians are wonderful, friendly people who were eager to sell us their food and were really pleased when we liked it. Even without a common language we still managed to have a laugh with the locals. The worldwide common sign language of ‘the smile’ goes a long way.
Dwayne ate a skewered water snake while out at the pub one night. Unfortunately I wasn’t there to take a photo. He said it was over-cooked and very dry. I was hoping for the opportunity to try snake myself but it never eventuated.
Kralan – sticky coconut rice in cooked in bamboo
We often found ourselves riding down a road and suddenly there are numerous stalls (in the middle of nowhere) all selling exactly the same thing. This made us a little curious so we eventually pulled over to see what was for sale. One such example was these little lengths of bamboo.
Not knowing what was inside and unable to ask the lady selling them (no english) we indicated we would take one. The top of the bamboo was plugged with leaves. After a short ride we found a shady tree to stop under and we opened our curiosity.
To our delight we found a delicious sticky rice, which I have since learnt is called kralan. It is very popular and is thought of as a specialty in Battambang where it is quite famous. It is made by cooking rice, black beans, coconut milk and sugar in the bamboo. It was not too sweet. Really very tasty.
We had a similar treat in Phnom penh where the sticky rice, wrapped in banana leaves, was grilled over coals. To our surprise, when we opened our banana wrapped treats we found the sticky rice was wrapped around a banana. Really delicious.
Fried crickets and other bugs
Deep fried tarantula is one of the foods I really wanted to try but didn’t find… perhaps I didn’t look hard enough? But we did eat worms, grasshoppers, crickets and beetles. Read more about the bugs, insects and creepy crawlies here!
To watch the video of us consuming these creepy crawlies (or trying to) click here ….. Munching on Insects in Cambodia
Green Mango salad
We found many mango salads being made along the roadsides. This particular one in the photo below was being made with crushed up crab pieces (shell and all). We didn’t get to try this one because we had just bought some insects to nibble on. We did have quite a few mango salads and they were all delicious… a must!
Dwayne could never pass up an opportunity to have an iced coffee with his noodle soup… it was breakfast after all.