Cambodian (Khmer) cuisine is unfortunately often overlooked by its Thai and Vietnamese neighbors. Since the fall of the Khmer Rouge and an increase in tourism, others are beginning to realize how amazing the food is in this country. The cuisine focuses on fresh, seasonally available ingredients with an emphasis on rice (predominantly Jasmine). Many cultures have left an impression on Cambodian food. Many dishes have Chinese, French, Thai, and Vietnamese influence.
There are very few cookbooks available focusing on Cambodia. The only one I have personally tried is The Elephant Walk Cookbook by Longteine de Monteiro and Katherine Neustadt. Longteine de Monteiro is the founding chef of The Elephant Walk Restaurant in Boston, Massachusetts.
Pong Mouan Snol is a Cambodian omelet filled with pork, green onions, and preserved cabbage. It is both salty and sweet. The egg is a perfect vessel to bring together all the flavors. This dish is best served with Jasmine rice and fresh vegetables (such as tomatoes and cucumbers). It was a wonderful meal and I can’t wait to try more recipes from Cambodia.
Mushroom soy sauce is available in many Asian food markets. It is a lot stronger and darker than regular soy sauce, so be more careful in its use. In addition to soy beans, it is also brewed with straw and shiitake mushrooms. Common brands include Pearl River Bridge Mushroom Flavored Superior Dark Soy Sauce
(less additives) and Lee Kum Kee. There is not a great substitute for mushroom soy sauce. Dark soy sauce can be used in its place, but the flavor won’t be exactly the same. If you are substituting in a dipping sauce, just use regular soy sauce instead of dark.
Preserved cabbage (Tianjian/Tientsin preserved vegetables) is also available in many Asian food markets stored in earthenware pots or plastic. This dull brown, pickled, shredded cabbage is a Chinese condiment that should be used sparingly due to its high salt content. It is used in many Chinese, Thai, and Cambodian dishes. As long as you use clean utensils to take out the cabbage, it should last for a very long time.