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Learn to cook Cambodian food in Phnom Penh

Listed under Cooking Course in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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Cambodia Cooking Class introduces travellers to Khmer cuisine in the heart of the capital city of Phnom Penh. Our day at the cooking school started at 9 am with a guided visit to a fresh produce market. There, we were introduced to a number of unfamiliar herbs, the cornerstone of Khmer cuisine, as well as a variety of fruits, vegetables, spices and provisions. Back at the school, which perches on a breezy rooftop terrace, each of us was assigned a cooking station; it was time for hands-on action. Following the teacher’s demonstrations, we furiously worked the mortar and pestle to grind the herbs and spices that give Cambodian food its unique character. Those with delicate taste buds will be pleased to learn that Khmer recipes go back to the days before the introduction of chilli by the Portuguese and, as a result, they are often milder than other Asian foods.

We made taro-filled crunchy spring rolls accompanied by a sweet and sour dipping sauce sprinkled with crushed peanuts as appetizers. This was followed by a banana blossom salad fragrant with sweet basil, coriander, fishwort and mint. Our main course was the famous fish Amok steamed in a banana leaf cup with kroeung curry mix. Sweet sticky rice with coconut milk and palm sugar finished off the four-course lunch, which was enjoyed in a casual atmosphere as participants swapped travel tales and restaurants tips.

By preparing everything from scratch using fresh supplies, we learned not only to recognize and use exotic ingredients but also to implement the distinctive cooking techniques that make the success of Khmer recipes. Who knew that you must squeeze all liquid out of taro roots using your palms, but that sliced banana flowers must be delicately drained lest they turn black? The experience came to an end at 4 pm, with the 10 of us full to the brim and armed with a colourful booklet detailing 13 popular recipes—I tried the beef Lok Lak at home and wasn’t disappointed! After a day of Cambodia Cooking Class, I will never ask again “Cambodian food, that’s like Thai food, right?”

Cambodia Cooking Class.

Written by  Francoise Ohayon.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Cambodia Cooking Class has declined permission to reproduce the recipes printed in their booklet because the recipes in question are copyrighted and for attendees of the Cambodia Cooking Class only. However, you can find a couple of other recipes on their website www.cambodia-cooking-class.com/recipes-2.htm (follow the Recipes link for Snacks, Soups and Main Courses).

Sounds delicious. Are you going to supply the recipes?

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