Cambodian food is a bit of a mystery. After the Khmer Rouge wiped out much of the country’s historical records – including cook books – what remains are recipes passed down through generations of families. Influences come from India, China and, later, France. And, like much of Southeast Asia, noodles and noodle soups are ubiquitous, as are coconut-derived ingredients and fish sauce. You’ll see root dishes, ancestors, of popular Thai and Malay foods, and some very local delicacies you’re unlikely to find elsewhere in the world – and for good reason in the case of fried tarantula.
Cambodia is still rebuilding itself as a tourist destination and while cosmopolitan upscale dining venues are present, they’re the exception. International foods – pizza (famously, the “happy” kind), Mexican, Indian and Pacific Rim – also abound, but for some dishes that represent contemporary Cambodian cuisine and provide a glimpse Khmer culture and history, here’s a quick list of culinary must-tries.