We just spent several weeks in Siem Reap researching our guidebook to the temples of Angkor, and since we’ve come back, many people have asked us about the food and what to eat in Cambodia. In our opinion, the culinary delicacy of Cambodia, amok fish, is a must-try.
- The fish. If you are staying in Siem Reap, many of the fish are sourced locally in Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. The dish typically uses light, neutral flesh fish, which better showcase the curry flavors. Frequently used freshwater fish include: snakehead, carp, and catfish.
- The curry. The fish is steamed in a savory curry sauce made, first and foremost, from coconut cream and coconut milk, with a touch of salty anchovy fish sauce. The base for the sauce is made from kroeung, a traditional Khmer spice-herb paste based on a mixture of ingredients: lemon grass, citronellal-rich kaffir lime zest and leaves, the ginger-like galangal, garlic, nhor leaves (a leafy green similar to kale, but more bitter), turmeric, shallots, and dried red chillies (not spicy). For those of you who don’t like spicy (hot) foods, there is no need to worry: Cambodians don’t go heavy on the spice, so you are in good shape.
- The rice. The sticky rice is exceptional, delicate and al dente. As a general rule, we suggest keeping the curry and rice separate on the plate; combine them at the center of the plate, almost on a bite-by-bite basis, so as to keep the rice fresh and optimize the curry-to-rice ratio.
Best Amok Fish in Siem Reap
Siem Reap is full of restaurants serving this popular dish, but we recommend two restaurants in downtown Siem Reap to sample for yourself:
- Khmer Kitchen - Small restaurant that has recently expanded to accomodate tourists looking to try traditional Cambodian dishes. They also have cooking classes.
- Amok - Right in the heart of the old market, this restaurant does its namesake dish very well. Also serves traditional Cambodian dishes.
Guidebook to Angkor’s temples
Angkor — the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire that thrived for 500 years from 802-1327 — is one of the most magnificent sites in Southeast Asia. This recently updated and expanded Approach Guide serves as an ideal companion for travelers seeking a deeper understanding of Angkor’s art and architecture.