Cambodian cuisine is enjoying a growing popularity, as more and more people discover it’s unique taste, flavours and freshness. As we have described elsewhere on this website, while Khmer cuisine has incorporated foreign influence, it is still a very distinct cuisine with its own recipes and traditions.
Khmer dishes derive their flavor from spices and aromatic herbs, with little use of fat. Cambodian cuisine is a combination of complex, vibrant flavors and a very delicate balance between saltiness, sweetness, sourness and bitterness, with a keen appreciation for textures.
With the growing popularity of Khmer cuisine, recently a number of new cookbooks have been published. See our selection.
Joannès Rivière used to work at the Sala Bai school, where young adults from the poorest families throughout Cambodia get free training in restaurant service, cooking, front office, housekeeping and English language. At the school there is a fully functioning restaurant and a four-room hotel, offering students skills readying them to seek employment in Siem Reap’s hospitality sector.
From Spiders to Water Lilies
by Friends International
Similar to the Sala Bai school in Siem Reap (see above), Friends is an organization giving hospitality training to former Phnom Penh street kids: restaurant service, cooking, front office, housekeeping and English language. And, are they successful? You bet they are: Heng, our entertaining teacher-cook at the Cambodia Cooking Class had his training at Friends!
This cookbook contains more than 40 recipes, often with a bit of a modern twist to traditional Khmer coolking. The recipes recipes are combined with pictures of Cambodia, its food, and its people.
It’s available at ‘Friends’ or via Monument Books.
The Food & Cooking of Cambodia
by Ghillie Basan
Ghillie Basan is a travel writer and has been a regular contributor to the Sunday Tribune, the Sunday Herald and various cookery magazines.
This cookbook has 60 authentic recipes, all shown with easy-to-follow, step-by-step photographic instructions, include the refreshing Bamboo, Fish and Rice Soup, the tasty savoury snack of Deep-fried Prawn Sandwiches, the rich Khmer Fish in Coconut Custard, the warming Braised Black Pepper Pork, a tangy vegetable dish of Stir-fried Pineapple with Ginger and Chilli, a light and delicious Marinated Fish Salad and the deliciously sticky Cassava Sweet.
Published in 2007, Southwater Books, ISBN-10: 184476351X, ISBN-13: 9781844763511
by The Green Gecko Project
The Green Gecko Project is a safe place for Siem Reap street kids, providing shelter, education, care and stability, positive role models, micro businesses, family support, nutrition packs, and medical treatment.
‘Nyum Bai’ literally means ‘eat rice’, but as Cambodian dishes invariably include rice, it really just means ‘eat’. This cookbook will not only entice and inspire you with 31 of Cambodia’s finest recipes; it will take you on a brief journey into Cambodian culture and the stories and smiles behind the Green Gecko kids.
With hundreds of sensational photos of the children and professionally presented gourmet delights, this book will enhance anyone’s culinary skills and has all the right ingredients for those who appreciate good food as well as the essence of giving.
100% of the profits go to Green Gecko.
Cambodia on a Plate
Not just a cookbook, ‘Cambodia on a Plate’ aims to inspire visitors and local businesses to explore and enjoy Cambodian cuisine and, in the process, encourage greater local benefit from tourism through the purchase and use of locally-grown and locally made products.
The booklet contains a selection of dishes that captures some of the best tastes, textures and colours of Cambodian cuisine, and also has some great easy recipes to try at home.
This 24-page booklet is not available anymore, but frizz restaurant offers it as a FREE download.Download Cambodia on a Plate SIZE: 1.79 MB
The Cuisine of Cambodia
by Nusara Thaitawat
Nusara Thaitawat is a Thai journalist, who was struck by the cuisine of Cambodia when she covered the start of the peace process in the early 1990’s. Despite being made with ingredients that were all available in her native Thailand, the Khmer dishes were to her a revelation of subtle, balanced flavors.
This is a magnificent Cambodian cookbook full of traditional menus. With chapters on appetizers, salads, fish, pork, fowl, beef, shelfish, frogs, insects, sauce, rice and noodles, fruit preserves and desserts. Plus chapters with menus specifically from the Royal Household, the kitchen of the Royal Phnom Penh Hotel and Siem Reap home cooking.
Unfortunately this book is out of print, but it is still available at Amazon. We have a copy at frizz restaurant, just to have a look at.
Published in 2000, ISBN-10: 9748778851, ISBN-13: 978-9748778853
The Elephant Walk
by Longteine De Monteiro
Written by the chef-owner of Boston’s restaurant chain The Elephant Walk, this cookbook is a fascinating introduction to the lively and sophisticated flavors of Cambodia. Apart from showcasing Cambodia’s foods, this cookbook tells the inspiring story of Longteine De Monteiro. The wife of a diplomat who was forced into exile after Pol Pot invaded Cambodia, De Monteiro escaped to France, where she established what may have been the first Cambodian restaurant in the Western world. She then moved to the United States and opened The Elephant Walk.
Published in 1998, Houghton Mifflin Cookbooks, ISBN-10: 0395892538, ISBN-13: 9780395892534