5 mins

How to cook Cambodian cuisine

Foodies are fond of South-East Asia with Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia home to a whole host of flavours. But what about Cambodia? Here's how to cook up your own feast at home

Cambodian recipes for you to cook up at home

Cambodian recipes1. Warm mango and prawn salad

Serve: 4, as part of a shared meal


125g snow peas (mangetout)
2 x 300 g (10½ oz) semi-ripe (but not green) mangoes, peeled and julienned
1 handful mixed mint, Vietnamese mint, basil and perilla leaves, sliced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 red Asian shallots, thinly sliced
3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
450g large raw prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined, leaving the tails intact
Juice of 2 limes


2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp vegetable oil

To prepare:

1. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the snow peas and blanch for one minute. Drain, briefly refresh in cold water, then drain again.

2. Slice the snow peas lengthways and place in a mixing bowl. Add the mango and most of the herb leaves, reserving some as a garnish. Set aside.

3. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.

4. Heat a wok over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil and sauté the shallot and ginger for three minutes, or until caramelised. Add the prawns and stir-fry for two minutes, or until just cooked. Stir in the lime juice to deglaze the pan, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

5. Add the prawn mixture to the mixing bowl, then pour the dressing over and toss until well combined.

6. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with the remaining herbs and serve.

Cambodian recipes2. Wok-tossed squid with Kampot pepper

Serves: 4


2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp Cambodian chilli paste
30g kampot green peppercorns, or fresh or brined green peppercorns
200g baby squid, cleaned and skinned, cut into 4cm pieces, including the tentacles
½ onion, cut into wedges
¼  green capsicum (pepper), finely sliced
¼  red capsicum (pepper), finely sliced
1 long red chilli, sliced, plus extra sliced chilli to garnish
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp liquid palm sugar (glossary), or shaved palm sugar (jaggery)
1 tbsp roasted crushed unsalted peanuts
60ml coconut cream

To prepare:

1. Add the vegetable oil, garlic, chilli paste and peppercorns to a hot wok. Stir-fry over medium–high heat for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the squid, onion, capsicums and chilli and stir-fry for a further 1 1/2 –2 minutes.

2. Now add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, palm sugar, peanuts, coconut cream and a pinch of sea salt and stir-fry for a further 11/2  minutes, or until heated through.

3. Garnish with extra chilli slices and serve.

Note: To make Cambodian chilli paste, soak 200g seeded large dried chillies in 500ml warm water for ten minutes. Drain, then squeeze out the excess water. Pound the chillies to a paste using a mortar and pestle. Add to a hot wok with one tablespoon vegetable oil and fry over medium heat for three minutes, or until fragrant. Allow to cool, then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Cambodian recipes3. Clay Pot Cola Chicken

Serves: 4–6


5cm piece of fresh galangal, peeled and finely sliced
10 makrut (kaffir lime) leaves
3 red Asian shallots, finely sliced
3 lemongrass stems, bruised
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1kg whole chicken
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
330ml can Coca-Cola
Ground white pepper, for sprinkling
Lemon juice, to serve

To prepare:

1. If you can, use a large round clay pot – about five litre capacity – for this recipe. You will need to soak it in water for two hours before using it. If you don’t have a large clay pot, use another pot that is just large enough to hold the chicken, and skip the soaking step.

2. Combine the galangal, makrut leaves, shallot and lemongrass in a bowl. Add the salt and oyster sauce and mix well, then  stuff the mixture inside the cavity of the chicken. 

3. Brush the soy sauce over the whole chicken. Place the chicken, head down, in the clay pot, then pour half the Coca-Cola into the cavity. Now place the chicken breast side down in the clay pot. Cover the pot and place over a gas burner or charcoal, over medium heat. Cook for 30 minutes.

4. Turn the chicken over, then pour the remaining Coca-Cola over the chicken. Cover and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

5. Cut the chicken into quarters, then sprinkle with sea salt and ground white pepper. Serve with the lemon dipping sauce, or lemon juice for drizzling.

Cambodian recipesThese three recipes have been taken from Luke Nguyen's new book Greater Mekong – A culinary journey from China to Vietnam (£25, hardback) published by Hardie Grant and available on Amazon now.

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