If you’re looking to adventure beyond your typical family dinner (no matter where you’re from) try your hand at Cambodian cuisine. First step, ingredients. Head to the local grocery store and pick up some crickets, tree ants, tarantulas, frogs, and…yes, rats.
If you’re still with me, you have an adventurous spirit. In all honesty, I have no idea how to dish up Cambodian specialties like tree ant beef stir fry. However, I tried as many of these dishes as I could, and I’d like to share those experiences.
Aubrey and I visited the well known Romdeng Restaurant in Phnom Penh for our first authentic meal. We had a beef stir fry, smothered in a nice sauce full of tree ants. It was the first time I’ve (intentionally) consumed ants, and to my surprise, they added a nice crunch and spice to the dish.
My second dish (which Aubrey decided not to partake in) was grilled rat from a roadside stand outside of Battambang. Our tuk-tuk driver stopped to grab one for himself, and asked if I wanted to try grilled rat. I was intrigued, but not immediately sold on the idea. However, after learning that the stand’s proprietor kills them daily in the rice fields with bamboo dart guns, I knew I better not offend her, and decided to go for it. For your information, it looks like chicken meat, but tastes like pork.
Crickets were next on my list. They’re the potato chips of Cambodia, you can’t just have one. Honestly, I think they taste like seaweed, and I just don’t happen to be a fan of seaweed. We were just outside of a cave in Battambang, waiting for five million bats to make the daily spectacle of exiting the cave. The bats weren’t running on time, so we waited with a group of locals who housed an entire colony of fried crickets while waiting for the bats.
The uniqueness of Cambodian food goes well beyond street food. We treated ourselves to a couple of equally unique dinners at fancy restaurants in Siem Reap prior to leaving Cambodia. I believe one of my favorite meals was an entree of chili crusted frog legs. Delicious!
Although it might’ve been tough to allow myself to try some of the unique foods of Cambodia, I’m glad I did, and I believe those experiences have opened my tastebuds to new and delicious possibilities. What’s the most interesting food you’ve had?