A Brief Guide to Snacking in Cambodia
Any traveler visiting Cambodia for the first time will be amazed by the dizzying array of snack foods to choose from, many of which are consumed depending on the time of day, the season, or the potency of the beverage you happen to be drinking.
Steamed buns, or Num pao, as they are known locally, are just one of the many pickings popular in Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia. These buns made with rice flour dough are filled with a delectable mix of minced pork, turnips, eggs and chives, and are a popular snack readily available from street vendors at any time of the day.
Also popular and usually found on beer stalls in night markets is Grueng klaim, strips of dried beef usually served with pickles – a classic beer snack.
Another eat often devoured at happy-hour – but not for the faint hearted – is pong Dteer gowne, duck eggs that contain unhatched baby ducklings. Believed to impart strength and improve health, they are a popular Khmer nibble served with salt, pepper and lots of lemon juice. It goes without saying that eating a raw, embryonic duckling (tiny beak, feathers and all) is somewhat of an acquired and culturally developed taste. Our top tip for travelers: try to avoid looking at what you pop in your mouth. It helps if you’ve had a few beers too!
When in doubt there’s always a wide range of safer sweet snacks to choose from. One of the most nourishing and enjoyable is the deep fried banana. Fried in batter and often coated with sesame seeds this deliciously crunchy bite is just the thing for between meal hunger pangs.
Some snacks can be incredibly filling, like the enjoyable Grolan; super sticky rice served in a bamboo tube containing a delicious mix of coconut milk and black beans – almost a meal on its own!
And if you’re feeling really brave, then there’s a whole range of deep-fried creepy crawlies to sample, including grasshoppers, spiders and even scorpions. Our top tip for travelers mentioned above can certainly be applied here!
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