Cambodia part 3: food

If the Thai food is overall very spicy and is built on variations of curry, the food of Cambodia is a lot less spicy and is rather aromatic and based on varios herbs, souces and seasonings.

The most popular dish is amok – freshwater fish steamed until the consistency of a mousse, with interesting souces. In general freshwater fish is very popular in Cambodia, as the Mekong is the main artery of the country. Another popular dish is lok lak. It is beef cut in cubes and deep fried with lime, onion and salt souce.

Meat is often accompanied by lotus roots, as well as the plant called morning glory, typically served in oyster sauce.

Unusual dishes tried: very spicy quail egg soup with frog legs; fish rye soup; deep fried pig uteruses. Of course, fried tarantulas are very exotic. These are collected out of their burrows in an area about 80 km from Phnom Penh. When caught, their poisonous teeth are immediately removed, and they are shipped around the country.

As everywhere in South East Asia, the ready made food is sold on every streetcorner. Snails next to the Russian market:

The Russian market is the main market in Phnom Penh. Apparently the Russians often shopped there at some point, which explains the name. The market is rather large, there is a tourist section, but many sections are very local: for example, a big section is devoted to spare parts of bicycles and mopeds; there is a food section, where the stench is quite unbearable, as the fish is sold when it’s 38 degrees outside; lots of cheap clothes etc.

There are quite a few curious street names in Phnom Penh: the main thoroughfares are called Mao Tse Tung prospect, Kim Il Sing prospect and Russian Federation prospect. The rest of the streets are normally numbered, like in New York. The planning of the city, initially devised by the French, is quite regular, the horisontal streets bearing even and vertical streets odd numbers. I was living on 242 Street for example, the tourist area being around Street 240.

In addition to the Russian market, the tourists may be interested as well in the Night and the Central market. The Central market is built in the characteristic sixties style which would not be out of place somewhere in Brasilia:


The sea creatures sold in the Central market:

More of the same:

Street food in the Central market:

And here is a juicy squid which was grilled right in front of me:

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