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FOOD &COOKING Discover the exotic culture, traditions and ingredients of Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine with
FOOD &COOKING Discover the exotic culture, traditions and ingredients of Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine with
FOOD &COOKING Discover the exotic culture, traditions and ingredients of Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine with


Discover the exotic culture, traditions and ingredients of Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine with over 150 authentic step-by-step recipes and over 750 photographs

and ingredients of Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine with over 150 authentic step-by-step recipes and over 750
FOOD &COOKING Discover the deliciously fragrant cuisines of Indo-China, with over 150 authentic recipes, illustrated


Discover the deliciously fragrant cuisines of Indo-China, with over 150 authentic recipes, illustrated step-by-step

Explore the rivers and deltas of Vietnam, the bustling markets of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and the colorful celebrations and rich traditions that pervade everyday life in this fascinating region

Features a comprehensive visual guide to Vietnamese and Southeast Asian ingredients, and step-by-step descriptions of preparation and cooking techniques

Recipes range from mouthwatering snacks such as crisp yet succulent Vietnamese Spring Rolls, and delicious main dishes including Garlic-roasted Quails with Honey and Shellfish Curry with Coconut Milk and Basil, to sumptuous sweet treats such as Coconut Sorbet or Vietnamese Fried Bananas

More than 750 specially commissioned photographs, including pictures showing the important stages of each recipe, wonderful evocative shots of the finished food, and scenic images of the landscape and people

Complete nutritional information is given for every recipe

Printed in

Chi na



lET A E E FOOD &COOKING Discoverthe exotic culture, traditions and ingredients of Vietnamese and






Discoverthe exotic culture, traditions and ingredients of Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine with over 150 authentic step-by-step recipes and over 750 photographs


step-by-step recipes and over 750 photographs GHILLIE BA~AN WITH PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARTIN BRIGDALE lH H E



For Antonia, who is about to embark on her own culinary journey

Th is ed it ion is pu bli shed by Her mes Hou se

Hermes House is an

imprint of Ann ess Publi shin g Ltd

Hermes H ouse, 88 - 89 Bla c kfri ars Road, London SE 1 8HA

te l. 020 740 1 2077; fax 020 7633 9499; info@anness .co m

A ll ri ghts reserved. N o part

© Anness Pub li shin g Ltd 2006

of this publicat ion ma y be reproduced, st o red i n a retrieva l sys tem, or

transmitted in any way or by any means, elect ronic, mechanical, photocopying, record ing or

otherwise, with out the prior written permission of the copyright holder.

A CIP ca t a l og u e record f or this

book is avai la bl e from

th e

B riti s h

Li bra ry.

Publisher: Joanna Lorenz

Editorial Director: Judith Simons

Sen ior Editor: Doreen Gillon

Editor: Molly Perham

Photographe r: Martin Bri gdale


econom ist: Lucy McKelvie and Bridget Sargeson

Stylist: Helen Trent

Designe r : Nigel Pa r tridge

Jacket Design : Chl oe Steers

Produ c ti o n Con t ro ll er: We nd y Lawson

1 3579

108 6 4 2

Many of the rec i pes in this book ha ve previ o u s ly appeared in Vietnamese.

Front cover shows Beef Nood le Soup - for rec ipe , see page 78 .


Bracketed te rm s are intend ed for American readers.

For all recipe s, quan tities are given in both metr ic and impe ria l measures and, where app ropriate, in standa rd cu ps and spoons . Follow one set, but not a mixture ; they are not interchangeabl e.

Standard spoon and cup mea su res are level. 1 tsp = 5ml , 1 tbsp = 15ml , 1 cup = 250ml/Sfi oz.

Australian standard tablespoo ns are 20ml. Australian readers shou ld use 3 ts p in place of 1 tbsp for measuring small quant ities of

ge latin e, fl our, sa lt, etc.

American pints are 16fl ozl2 c up s. American reader s should use 20fl ozl2.5 cups in place of 1 pin t when meas uring l iquids.

The nutritional analysis given for each recipe is ca lculated per portion (i.e. serv in g or item), unless otherwise stated. If the reci pe gives a range , such as Serves 4-6, then the nutr itional analysis wil l be for the smaller portion size , i.e. 6 servings. Measurements for sod ium do not inc lude salt added to tas te.

Med ium (US large) eggs are used unless ot herwise stated.

Names of ingredients are given in Vietnamese only.







[ 0



1 6
















































Vietnam and Cambodia are known for

their warm, friendly people,

cu lture and superb c ui sine. With such a

long hi story of co lonial rule and frequent ,

bru tal wars , it is a wonder that the

c ultural life of the former Indo-ch in a has

surv ived in any shape or form. However,

despi te suffer ing more man than it is poss ible

people ha ve surv ived. Their strong

belief in preserving anc ient cu ltural traditions while at the same time

is part icular ly ev ident

abso rbin g the new

t heir lively

inhumanity to to imagin e, the

in their fascinating cu lin ary cu lture.


Nearly all

South-east Asian co untri es

share the

in f luen ce of China in their

cu isin es. In the case of Vietnam and Cambodia , the effects of Indian and

the case of Vietnam and Cambodia , the effects of Indian and Western co lonial occupa

Western co lonial occupa ti on have

a lso

Minh Cit y, where Indian and French

added a bit of sp ice and variatio n


influ ences are vivid . More than any of

the gastronomy, making the culinary cu ltures of both countr ies quite

its neighbou rs , it is an example of fusion cooking, balancing ancient with

istinct ive i n their own ri ght. Viet namese cook i ng is most heav il y influenced by China, apart f rom the southern cu isine , notably that of Ho Chi


modern , and Chinese with Indian. Ind ian c ustoms and spices are more evident in the cu linary heritage of Cambodia , combined with Khmer

Below: Hmong women overlooking the terraced fields in the Muong Hoa Valley, Vietnam.

trad iti ons, Contemporary Cambodian cu isine is both distinct and simi lar to its ne ig h bours Laos and Th ai land. As a cu isin e it is not as sophisticated and

Th ai land. As a cu isin e it is not as sophisticated and Above: A

Above: A typical rural scene of thatched houses and paddy fields, near Siem Reap, Cambodia.

diverse as Vi etnamese, wh ich is partly due to t he decades of severe destruction of the land a nd the people


the hands of the debilitating regimes


Pol Pot and the Khm er Rouge. Th ere

are a number of Cambodian noodle dishes , enriched with coco nut milk,

wh ich are similar to the old favourites of Thailand and Malaysia, but richer than many of the Vietnamese noodle recipes. The popular hot and sour soups , often flavoured with chillies, coco nut milk and fresh pineapple, resemble many dishes

that are found in sout hern regions

Th a il and and the of Vietnam.



basic principle of South-east Asian


isin e is y in and yang , wh ich evo lv ed


Ch in a in the 4th

cen tur y BC , Thi s

theory ba lances the Tao ist connect ion with nature with the Buddhist sea rch for en li ghtenme nt. An effective way of achiev in g this harmony is by balancing

the yin and yang p roperties of food. As yin signifies fema le , darkness and co ld , and yang sign ifies male, brightness and warmt h , th ese pr in c iples cou ld be app lied to food by devising a "hot-cold "

fo od system, in which certain foods

have a coo lin g effect on the body, and

Introdu ction


Introdu ction 7 Above : Two boys making rice flour pancakes on griddles. a common concept.

Above: Two boys making rice flour pancakes on griddles.

a common concept. Sizz lin g and

bubb ling

are the favourite tunes - the

markets, where a grea t deal of

squeez in g and

and f ru it takes place , ensuring th e

freshest , the ripest or even the most tart

item is selected fo r the meals Back in the kitchen, the cook

each d ish befo re se rvin g t o check the season in g and the ba lance of flavours.

sme ll ing of vege tables

tha t day. w ill taste


Both Vietnam and Cambodia sha re

a rainy subtropica l c lim ate that enab les t hem to emp loy the same key ingred ients - ri ce, coconuts, gin ger, gar li c and chi lli es. Fi sh p lays an e norm ous ro le in th e diet of most

Vietnamese and Cambodians. Genera ll y, the fish is gr ill ed (bro il ed) or stir-fr ied,

wrapped in lettuce or and dipped in to the i r

sauces , to wh ich Cambodians often add fine ly ground chopped pean uts. Lemon

sp i nac h leaves, national loca l fish


noises of food cooki ng. In Vietnam , the

grass and fresh , leafy herbs , such


othe rs are warm in g. In are ingredients such as

some f ru its and some animal proteins;

the yin category, green vegetables ,

joy of the food's sin ging is reflected in some of the names of dishes, such as the " ha ppy crepes" of the central region


way into almost eve ry hot or cold d ish , giving them a refresh ing f lavo ur -

i nt and co ri ander (ci lantro), find


the yang ca t egory includes some

and the "s

izzl i ng c repes" of Ho Chi

culminating in two st rikin g cu isines t ha t

an im al proteins and seafood , herbs an d

sp ices. Each meal pr i ncip les i n m i nd

and benefic ial to the body.

the in fl uence of China has sp read,

the yin and yang theory has been in co r porated in to the food culture.

is form ed with the se

so that it is balanced



An extension of the y in and yang theory

is th e co ncept of f ive flavour notes:

sa lty,

bitter, so ur, sp icy a nd swee t. Each


these not es co rr esponds to the f iv e elements - water, fire, wood, metal and

earth -

which a re believed to be present

arou nd

us and with in us . When it comes

to food, water is represented by sa lty and

black, fire by bitter and red , wood by

sour and green, meta l by sp icy and white,

and eart h by sweet yel low, orange and

comb i ning the prope rt ies and elements

of food gives every mea l ba lance.

and the co lours brow n. Thi s way of


In Vietnam and Cambodia , as we ll


ot her parts of South-east Asia , the


of food "speaking" and pots " singing" is

Minh City The moment the ingred ients sizzle in th e wok , or rice bubbles in the pan , th e cook knows the food is on its

way to being cooked. The pleasure of cooking and eating begins in the

bewitch the

colours and warm, tangy tastes.

senses wi th thei r vibran t

Below: Women gutting fish for sale in the market at Hoi An, Vietnam.

warm, tangy tastes. senses wi th thei r vibran t Below: Women gutting fish for sale




Today Vietnam is a thri lling place to be. Resplendent with co lour, exotic smel ls, and delicious tastes, it has risen from the ruins with its spirit intact. From the border with China in the north to the rice mills of the Mekong Delta in the south, this land of rivers and lush, emerald- green paddy fields hums with activity. There are unspo iled beaches , peaceful lagoons, dense jungles and rugged

mountains with roaring waterfa ll s.

Visitors are graciously accepted and the Vietnamese people, in spite of their

history of hardship and suffer in g, are

always smil in g and friendly


the open ing of Vietnam to

tourism , there has been a new wave of excitement in all aspects of its cu lture, with a growing emphasis on the cuisine. And, with the spread of Vietnamese refugees to different corners of the wor ld, authentic restaurants have mushroomed in Sydney, Paris and California, all presenting an int ri guing fusion of flavours and history.

Below: The floating market at the village of Phung Help , in the Mekong Delta.

The Vietn amese are keen snac kers.

Life is genera ll y li ved in the streets


wherever you go there are markets,

restaurants , cafes and makesh ift sta lls

made out of bamboo , se ll ing or coo king

every type of snack . Th e

of Ho Chi Minh City is ab uzz with the sounds and sights of cu lin ary activ ity. The st reets are so enticingly thick w ith the smell of cooking you cou ld almost bite the air. From the minute the city

awakens just before dawn , the tab les

and stoo ls

who come to slurp their bow ls of the c lassic nood le s sou p pho . Other people sit waiting for the slow drip of coffee filte ring into cups . Pungent spices like cinnamon, ginger and star anise tickle your nose as you wa l k about among the chaos of sputtering motorb ikes, pedestrians dodging traffic, tinkling bicycles with ducks and hens spilling out of baskets and fruit sellers weaving their way through the crowds , pushing

carts of p i neapp le, mango or papaya,

freshly peeled and kept coolon a bed of ice . You don't have to look for food in Vietnam; it finds you l

sma ll

southern city

are ready for early workers

you l sma ll southern city are ready for early workers Above: Preparing food at a

Above: Preparing food at a market stall in Hoi An.


Along the Meko ng Delta, some markets are on boats. T he best known is the

f loating market Ca i Ran , where the


conv erge at dawn. It is a co lourf ul

sigh t

as boats laden with bright g ree n bitter

melons, long, white radishes, scarlet tomatoes, yellow fruits and freshly cut herbs, bob peacefully in the water.

bitter melons, long, white radishes, scarlet tomatoes, yellow fruits and freshly cut herbs, bob peacefully in

The co untryside village mark ets are

more rem i niscent of a bu sy barnya rd . The squaw kin g and cack ling of hens

and ducks,

and ot her form s of liv es to c k,

remind you

that one str i kin g

fa c t about

the Vietnamese is that there is little they

don 't eat. Roasted dog's hea d , stir-fried duc ks' tong ues , g r illed fi el d rat s, monkey roasted on a sp it or the he art of

a venomous sna ke are al l part of the dai ly far e . In these live mark et s, you

wi ll also find f is h b ladders , coc kerel s'

testicles, crunchy insects , bats, toads , spa rrow s and turt le dove s, c rocodi les, armadi llos, bears and sea horses.


Vietnam ha s often been described as a "pea r l ne c kla ce" perched on the edge

of Indoc hina. The Mekon g br a nc h es out

into the South

Minh City and serves as a highway for

China Sea be low Ho Chi

boa t traffic and trade. Its so ur ce is

st rea m in the Tib etan Hi ma layas , from

where it tumbles down through steep gorges in south-wes tern China , throu gh

the jungles of Laos and Cambodia until

it flows at a leisurely pa ce through

lush pastures of so uth ern Vietnam. As th e Vietnam ese wil l po i nt out , their co untry is shaped like a don ganh ,

the traditiona l bamboo pole that is slun g

over the

hanging from each end. These baskets

repre se nt the r ice bow ls of Vi etnam , th e



shou lder with a ba sket of ri ce

Red Rive r Delta in t he north

Mekong De lta in t he sout h , j oi ned by a mou nta ino us spine. A long coast li ne

and the

and th e

num erous fl owing river s and


e III a 111

T orI ay



Hanoi, th e prin c i pa l c ity

in the

north , is

and minced prawns wrapped around sugar ca ne (chao tom). A variety of


are grown i n th is pa rt of Viet nam,

reputed for its ri ce rolls, sweet snacks made with m ung beans , and its sna il dishes . Th e communa l di sh tau, which is oft en tran slate d as "hotpot" but is in fac t more akin to th e Fr ench meat fondue, is attributed to the north , as is the favo uri t e nood le soup, pho.

such as

a ub ergines (eggp lants), bitter



pumpkins, mango es, pineapp les

a nd

arti c hokes. Game birds, riv er f ish


sea f oo d are i n abundant s upp ly.

Ho Chi Minh City


The so uth ern reg ion of Vietnam is

streams th at ca rv e up the land, prov ide

Of all t he c iti es i n Vietnam , there


character ize d by H o Ch i M i nh City,

Vietnam w it h such a vo l ume of wat er

none so representative of cu lt ure


former ly Sa igo n. At

one time th e languid

t hat it has a steady supp ly of its two

learn ing as t he h istoric,

garden c ity of

Pa ri s of t h e Orient , it is the centre of

most important ingredients: rice and

Hu e . On ce t he imper ial

c ity,

H ue was

co mmer ce and tr ade. The food relie s


mam, th e fermen t ed fish sauce .

co nsidered the ce ntre of haute cuisine.

heav ily o n th e rice bowl and g rowing

The north

In the mountai no us region of northern

Vietnam there is st ill a large Chinese population, a nd the emphasis of th e c uisine is on co ntrasting flavours and textures within the meal. The food is

The e mper o r Tu Du c, who reigne d from

past ur es of the Mekong Delta, and mo st


to 1883 , demanded ingenui ty

produce co mes from around Dalat. J ust

fro m his kitchens to c reate a refined

about anything g rows her e, in c luding

c ui sine . To ach ieve this , he expected 50

avocados , wh it e str awbe rri es , peac h es ,


to be prepared

by 50 coo ks and

ca ulifl owers, tomatoes, tr o pi ca l fruit s

se rved

by 50 servants at each meal. In

and sa lad vegetables, al l of which a re

Hue today, serv ice remains fo r mal and

incorporated i n the region 's

di shes,


lder than the spicy dis hes of the


is st i ll presented i n many smal l

which are served w it h French bread


ut h , rely i ng on

m il d black pepp er a nd

bowls as if feeding th e emperor. Here


mo st as

often as with rice or noo dl es .


e indigenou s

herbs , wh ic h in c lude

yo u might find c rab

claws stuffed with

Coconuts and suga r

ca ne provide

th e

basil, mint and

co riander (cilantro).

pork, beef wrapped

in wi ld bet el leaves,

base ingred ients for

man y dishes.






As eat in g plays such an im portant role in Vietnamese society, there are certain requ irements of dining etiquette , alt hough this can vary from region to region. For example, in northern and

ce ntral

oldest family member to sit nearest the door and everyone else to be arranged in descending age. The eld est w il l also be the first to help himself to food and a host will often serve the guest. In the

so uth where the traditions of etiquette

are more re laxed, everyone can dive in and help themselves. If you are the

Vietnam, it is custom for the

guest, one

trad ition that is im porta nt to


is the

bearing of a sma ll gift.

Whether you are invited to eat in a

home or

restaurant , throughout Asia,

f rom Turk ey to China, it is po lit e to bring you r hosts a little box of someth ing

sweet or a bunch of fresh flowers -

a lthough in Vietnam the flowers should

never be white as this signifies dea th.


As with most Asian countries, dining is

a communal affa ir. A selection of dishes may be put on a table and each diner

w il l be g iven their own individual bowl

into which the food is spooned. When passing the food around, two hands are

used to hold the dish and the exchange

is acknowledged with a nod. Food is

usually eaten with f in gers , chopst icks or

Below: Delicate lotus flowers are used to decorate tables and plates of food.

flowers are used to decorate tables and plates of food. spoons , although the Vietnamese have
flowers are used to decorate tables and plates of food. spoons , although the Vietnamese have

spoons , although the Vietnamese have a knack of sipping their food from the spoons without ever putting the spoon in to their mouths . The proper way to eat is to take some

rice from the

in your bowl, then use the ceramic

spoon to transfer the meat, fish or

vegetab les

up near to your mouth and use the


morsels. It is polite for the host to offer

more food than the guests can eat but, equa ll y, it is polite for the guests not to eat everything in sight. Depending on the complexity of the meal, there wi ll be a number of individual dipp ing bowls, conta ining sweet or spicy condiments, and there may also be bowls of chil lies or pickled

vegetab les to crunch and chew

between mouthfuls. When the Vietnamese eat, there is a great deal of gutsy en j oyment and noisy slur ping. Eati ng is almost a game - there are cra bs to crack, prawns to suck, food to be wrapped and rolled, and a lot of

mess as they love lingering over food.

communal d ish and put it

onto your rice. Hold the bowl

to shove l in the tasty


Above: A vendor selling the pungent fruit durian and other local fruits in Ho Chi Minh City.


For the Vietnamese, to show a "big face" is a sign of prestige. Weddings and family ce lebrations are often elaborate and ruinously expensive for so me famili es, but the cost is less important than "losing" face. A great deal of preparation goes into these

events so that the food is Each celebration cal ls for

t ime-consuming spec ialitie s, a nd opulent dishes w ill appear, such as the Vietnamese roast duck, sli ced in to juicy slabs, drizz led with the piquant f ish sauce (nuoc cham), and wrapped in lettuce leave s; st icky rice cakes steamed in lotus leaves and decorated with lotus flowers; and highly prized whole fish, gri ll ed (b roi led) or steamed with the head presented to the guest who is destined for good fortune. On

these occasions, the habitual fragrant tea may be cast as id e for a littl e merriment with beer and wine.

overflow ing . traditional,


Custom s and Festi val s



Vietnam's ca lend a r is full of fe stiv als, al l of which ca ll fo r elaborate feasting and ce lebration . Th e nationa l ce lebration s inc l ude Li beration Day, wh ich marks the date that Saigon surrendered; National Day on 2 September, to mark the Dec laration of Indepe nd ence of t he Democ ratic Repub li c of Vietn am by Ho Chi Minh in 19 45 ; and Ho Ch i Minh 's Birthda y. The reli g ious fe stivals ta ke place acco rdin g to th e lunar ca lendar, so the

dates c hange from

yea r to year.

Important re li gio us

fes ti va ls in c lude

Buddha 's Birthd ay, Phat

Dan; Christma s;

th e Hol iday of th e Dead, Thanh Minh ,

when people visit th e graves of dead re latives to l ight incense and make

offe rings of food Sou ls Day, when

gifts are mad e for the forgotten dead; and the mid -Au tumn Fes tiv al , which lands on th e fifteenth day of th e eig hth moon. To ce lebrate t he harvest , chi ld ren ta ke part in an evening procession, holding colourful lanterns in the form of

and flowers ; Wandering offe rin gs of food and

the form of and flowers ; Wandering offe rin gs of food and back good l

back good l uck for the fam il y. To aid

them on

Vietnam put li ve ca rp in to the ri vers and

lakes and leave offerings of food and fresh water at the altars. At the stroke

of midnight on New Year's Eve, the noise of drums and cymbals mark

their j ou rn ey, fam il ies a llover

Above: Street vendors selling sweet snacks and fruit.

swee t s, lotus seeds dyed a festiv e red to represen t j oy, truth an d sincerity, and the popu lar mut, a cand ied concoction of vegetables and dried fruits, which are on display among the woven, painted masks. Lucky money is placed on trees as offering s to the ancestors and homes are decorated with tr ees , such as pretty, f ruit -l aden kumquat s, or peach a nd apricot trees , resplendent in perfumed blossom , to ward off evil spir its.

Below: Traditional dancers performing in Hue, Vietnam.

its. Below: Traditional dancers performing in Hue, Vietnam. dragons, fish, boats and unicorns, while the drums

dragons, fish, boats and unicorns, while the drums and cymba ls play and festive

the beginning of the celebrat ion s gods are welcomed back.

as the

snacks and

sweets, such as st icky ri ce

The first meal of

Tet is one for


ca kes fill ed

with lotus seeds, pea nut s,

an ces tor s as they a re beli eved t o


and candied wat ermelon seeds, are so ld

in th e str eets.

Tet - Vietnamese New Year

Tet Nguyen Dan, meaning " New Dawn ",

is the most important fe stiva l of t he Vietnamese lunar yea r. It falls some

tim e between Feb ruary and

time of ren ew ing and reaffirmin g be liefs

in life , love, family and community. Famili es re unite in the hope of su ccess and pr ospe rity in t he co min g year.

Ce m eter ie s a re vis ited and t he sp iri ts of dead re lative s are in v ited home f or th e

mid-January and mid-

lasts for three days.

It is a

re t urned

head of th e fami ly wi ll offer a grace , light three incense st icks, then invite

to the wor ld of th e livin g . Th e

five generations of the deceased , wh ispering their name s, to join in the family feast. Thi s ceremony of "a ncestor ca llin g" ta kes place at the morning and eve nin g mea ls fo r the thr ee days of Tet. Th e seco nd day of Tet in volves visi tin g th e w ife 's f am il y and c lose friends and the third day is for emb rac ing th e co mmun ity. Fami lie s visit the school teac hers, patients visit the ir doctors ,

many peop le visit astro logers to

yea r 's f ort un es. On t he even in g


hea r the

Tet celebrations. Homes and

gra ves are

of th e th i rd da y, the

ancesto r s depart.


lea ned and decorations are

put up .


pri nc i pa l


spec ial ity

is banh

The rites for Tet begin a week in advance.

The fi rst rite is t he ascension of the


Th ese kitchen gods dwell in every kitc hen and mu st ride on the backs of

fi sh to report on

Jade Emperor in th e hope of bringing

of the Hea rth to the heave ns .

th e year's eve nts t o th e

chung, sticky ri ce cakes filled w it h bean

paste and, traditiona ll y, wrapped in a gree n dong (s imil ar to a banana leaf) parcel and ti ed with bamboo twi ne.

Throughout th e fest iviti es, stacks of

banh chung a re pi led

next to wa t e rm e lo ns and dragon fruit ,

hi g h in the

sta ll s




For most of its recent h isto r y, Cambodia has bee n shut off from the re st of the wor ld, but that has all cha nged . Today, it is open to tourists , foreign investors

retu rned to th eir home land to start life anew in this moment of peace. With them they have brought fresh id eas and wea lth accumulated in co untries of t he

and internat ional trade. It is one of the

Western wor ld which,

co mbined with

poorest coun tri es

in South-east Asia,

the UN influ ence and

foreign aid , makes

but th ere

with living. Th e cap ital, Phn om Pe nh ,

has emerged from econom ic ruin and

mi litary occu pat ion to become a

cap ti vating place to vis it with a live ly,

in t ernati o nal at mosphere. And no visi tor sho uld miss the st unning t emp les of Angkor, wh ic h are a mes mer izin g blen d

of sym metry and spi ritua lity. Not on ly do

the y di sp lay


Cambod ia as they

rep resen t a tim e w hen

the Khmer empire was the greatest in

So uth -east

is a wi ll



and get on

m an's devo tion to h is gods,

hea rt and

sou l of

t the y are the

Asia. Ma n y Cambodians

make p i lg rima ges to the templ es of

Angkor, o n f oot,

e lephant o r view th e m

and touri sts can explore them

by bicyc le, on the

back of an

from a h e li copte r.

Cambodia a n interestin g place to be . In

the countryside, the peasa nts stil l struggl e t o surviv e fr om fishing and

g row ing , wherea s c ities li ke Phnom

Penh and Siem Reap see m to be thrivin g . There are Western bars and restaurant s,

se lling beers a nd pizzas , adjacent to

Chinese and Cambod ian res taura nts

se lling deep-fried fro gs' legs and noodl es.

Young urban Cambod ians are into MTV and Western fashion, whi le the old er gene rati ons cl ing to their traditi ons . But , most of all, in spite of th e sufferin g that simmers beneath th e su rfa ce of every family, the Cambodian people are unfailingly enthusiasti c and fri endly.

ri ce


enthusiasti c and fri endly. ri ce CAMBODIAN CUISINE Above: A Kreung woman in a krama

Above: A Kreung woman in a krama scarf selling custard apples and bananas in Ban Lung, Rattankiri province.

Cambodia's c ulin ary c ulture h as been influ enced by Indi a, Th ail and, Ch in a,

Fra nce and Viet na m. As a re su It , ther e are many d ishes that resemble each ot her i nCa m bod ia a nd Vietna m , with a

stron g emphas is on the coco nut m il k ,


To the Cambod ians, their

hom eland


e cuisine of Ca mb od ia is experienc in g


d sp ices and h e rb s, particu la rl



cal led Kampuchea , which

is derived


revival. Restau rants se rvi ng traditional

ga rli c, ginger, lemon grass , chillies and

from the wo rd kambu-ja, meaning "those born of Kambu", who was the mythical f o und e r of th e co untr y. After

yea rs of con fli ct , many displaced

Khmer dishes are popular in th e c iti es, as well as in Cambodian co mmuni ties in Aust ralia, France and America. T here are also m any res taur a nts and stal ls

co riander (c ilantro ). Both en j oy the Fr ench co lonial

baguettes, ice cream, and co ff ee .

c ulture s also legacy of fr es h

On the whole, Cambod ian cuisine is

Cambod ians and ref ugees

hav e now


llin g Chinese, Th a i or Vietnamese

not as

sop hi st icate d as Vietnam ese,



all of wh ic h playa

part in the

whic h

is partly due to the decades of

Below: Rice sellers on the Tonie Sap Lake, Cambodia .

ov eral l cuis in e of th e country. Although


ce and

fi sh are the

st ap le food s,

Although ri ce and fi sh are the st ap le food s, • seve re

seve re destru ction of the land and

people at ha nd s of brutal it sho uld not be forgotten

mighty Khm er emp ire spread over la rge sections of Th ai land, Laos and Vietnam as wel l as Cambod ia and wo uld have playe d a big ro le in influencing th e

thu s so m e of th e

co urt c ui sin e at


ori g i na ll y have been Cambodian.


regimes. But that the once

Hu e,

d ishes of Viet nam cou ld


Th e market s of Cambodia resemb le

t hose of Viet na m. Li vely, co lou rful and

atm osphe ric , they fish, li ves to ck and

wh il e the aroma of fresh ly coo ked

sna c ks wafts from the makeshift sta ll s


markets also offer a sim il ar se lect ion of livestock and w il d li fe, in c lud i ng

endanger ed an i mals , s uc

nood le shops. Th e co untryside

display the co untry's agri c ultura l produ ce,

h as bear s,

t ige r s and rhino s, w hi ch are so ld f or



l 3

t heir m ea t , paws, hid es, h ooves and

peni ses . There is on e ma rk et

in t he

smal l tow n of Skuo n , nea r

Phn om Pen h ,


hat d iffers f rom al l ot hers

as it fea t u res

large , black, fu r ry sp ide rs.

B red in holes

to t he north

dee p-fr ied for breakfa st, lunc h and

su pper. sp ide rs

off a nd sucki ng out t he flesh .


of t he t ow n , th e sp iders are

th e

Crac ked o pe n li ke c rab,

are devou red by pulling t he legs

Ca mb od ia li es at th e h eart of

bo rde red by Laos a nd

nort h , an d Viet na m to the east.

li nk ed to Vietn a m by th e M ekon g Riv e r,

wh ic h un ifi es th eir cu li nary ingr ed ient s .

Th e north -eas t of Camb od ia is wi ld and mo un tainous , home to Cambod ia's

ethni c minorit ies and mu ch of its wil dl ife, whi c h in c lude s Asian elephant s , Asiat ic w ild dog , bla c k g ibb on s, leo pard s, ti ge rs a nd du go ngs. Wi ld

In doc h i n a,

Th ai land to t he

It is


ni mal s are a lso f o un d

in the d en se


un gles

in t he eas t , and

in the

Ca r d a m o m a n d El e p h an t M o unta i n s i n

the sout h-west. A variety

a nd pa lm s grow in th ese m ounta i no us

reg io ns . Th e sy mb o l of Ca mb odi a is t he

sugar palm tree, whi c h is used in co nstru ct io n , and in t he produc t io n of

m edic in e , w i n e and vin ega r.

T he co Ba tt am ba

extensive r ice paddies are fo u nd in t he ce ntral low la nds, w here dry crops suc h as ma ize a nd t obacco ar e also grow n .

fr ui t and nu ts grow in th e sout hern lowlands , and sal t

is extracted

on the Gulf of Thailand.

Vege tabl es, ce ntral a nd

of bamboos

unt ry's

ri ce

bow l is in th e

a nd

ng reg ion t o t he west,

from th e sea near Kampot,

Water sources

T he two

feat ures

most im po rt ant geograp hica l

in Ca mb od ia a r e t he M e ko ng


ve r, w

h ic h is a

lmo st Sk m /3

m il es w id e

in place

s, and


e Ton ie Sa p La ke . Th e

larges t la ke in

Toni e

wa t er f o r a l m os t ha lf of po pu lati on , who li ve on

So uth- east As ia, t he

Sap prov id es f ish a nd irr igat ion

Ca mb od ia's th e low- lyin g

Right: Women washing clothes on a floating village on th e Tonie Sap Lake

in Cambodia.

-,1 ,- THAILAND LAO S "" '" -, , / , ,- , --' \
-, ,

plain around lake and th e uppe r

Meko ng Delta. The Ton ie Sap is lin ke d

to the Me kong by a lOOkm/60 mi le c ha nn el , w h ic h is also ca ll ed t he Toni e

Sa p . In th e rain y se ason , w he n th e leve l

of t he Mekong ri ses, the c hanne l caus ing

th e wa ter bac ks up

it to flow

into the


leve ls fa ll , it is d rain ed

Me kong f rom t he lake. T his unusual process ma kes t he lake one of the ri c he st so ur ces of fr es hw at er f is h in

So ut h- east As ia, an d th e fl ooded la nd

is idea l fo r spawn i ng.

w hi c h swe lls up . Whe n th e wa t er

bac k into t he

east As ia, an d th e fl ooded la nd is idea l fo r







On the whole, Cambod ia is a very

t radit ional soc iety w ith an emphasis on

strong fami ly va l ues and rel ig ion. The

traditional greeting, the sompiah , involves pressing hands together in prayer and bowing. Generally, the

higher the hand and the lower the bow,

same time as the ot her cou rses. Wh ile r ice is the country's stap le, fish is the most importa nt sou rce of protein. Most of the fish eaten in Cambodia is freshwater, caught in the Tonie Sap lake or Mekong River. Traditionally, fish is eaten wrapped in herbs and lettuce


he more respect is shown. Compa red


and d ipped in the national

fi sh

to Vietnam , the cul inary customs of


tuk trey, wh ich is simi lar to


Cambodia are fair ly re laxed. When

Vietnamese nuoe mam.

eati ng at home, t he women and the men si t on floor mats w ith their feet to

the side rather t han the lotus posit ion.

Tradit ional l y, they fo l lowed the H indu

c ustom of using a hand

nowadays forks and chopsticks as well as hands are used.


eat , but


Most Cambodian d ishes are cooked in a

wok, known local ly as a ehnang khteak .

For breakfast m ost Ca m bod ians eat r ice

porr idge, bobor,

of a little fish or pork. A traditional Cambodian meal almost always includes

a soup , sam/a, which is eaten at the

oft en with the add ition


At wedd in gs and f est ive ba nquets, t he re are a number of sweet snacks made in the home , or sold in the markets , such as sticky rice bal ls stuffed with banana, sticky rice cakes in banana leaves. a nd pumpk in pudd ing in bana na leaves or nom I'poh.

Right: Frogs and fish for sale at a stall

on a street in Phnom

Penh .

Below: Women making a communal meal around cooking pots and open fires in a typical village near Siem Riep.

Phnom Penh . Below: Women making a communal meal around cooking pots and open fires in
Phnom Penh . Below: Women making a communal meal around cooking pots and open fires in


Customs and Festivals



Th e maj ority of Ca mb odi a ns a re fo ll owers of Th eravada B udd hi sm, Th ere a re a n umber of rel igious festiva ls and nat ional ho l idays, such as the Day for Remem bering the Victory over the

Genocidal Regime (7 January); the Chinese New Year, wh ich usually fal ls around the same t ime as the

Viet n amese Tet; th e Ki ng's bi rthday; t h e

Roya l Pl oug h ing Nengkal, he ld in

Pen h to b less t h e fa r me rs wit h

Ceremony, Chat Preah ea rl y May in Phn om

success ful c rops in t he and In de pende nce Day

t he Khm er New Yea r ; Bu dd ha's b irth, enl ighte nm ent and d eat h ; Bon Om Tuk; and In depe ndence Day.

com ing yea r ; on 9 November;

The Khmer New Year

Chaul Chnam,

the Khme r New Year,

last s fo r t hree

days in

m id-Ap r il.

Pilgr im ages are made to the t emp les of

Angkor and offe rings are made at the temp les and wats. Homes are cleaned

o ut, gifts of new clothes are exchanged

a nd food

im po rta nt role in t he ce leb rati ons as it


sha red . Wate r plays an

Belo w:

sacred coconut at a Buddhist wedding in Cambodia.

A Khmer bride unwrapping the

a Buddhist wedding in Cambodia. A Khmer bride unwrapping the symbol izes cleansing and renewa l.

symbol izes cleansing and renewa l. Religious statues are bathed in water

and so is j ust about everyone else, as

chi ldren and adu lts and f i re water guns

by. Talc um powder mi ss il es a re a lso po pul a r, s pr ay in g pow d e r over p eo pl e , ca r s and bi c yc les .

throw wate r miss i les at a nyo n e w ho goes

Above: Men rowing a long boat in the Retreat of the Waters during the Bon Om Tu k festival in Phnom Penh.

Bon Om Tuk

Thi s is on e of th e most imp ort ant f es tiv a ls in Camb odia. Held in ea rly

of th e

Nove m be r, it is a ce lebrati on

Held in ea rly of th e Nove m be r, it is a ce lebrati

reversa l of t he c u rre nt of t he Toni e

Sap. Ju st

t he wa t er


(the channe l that links the lake to the Mekong) and on into the Mekong - a cause fo r much celebra ti on. Boa t races are he ld on t he Ton ie Sap and on t he

m oat a roun d An g k o r Wa t.

as t he that is empty

d ry season begins,


up i n t he

into t he Ton ie Sap



Buddha's Birth, Enlightenment, and Death

Both Vietn am a nd Camb od ia cele brat e

t h is eve nt , w h ic h of the sixth lun ar

t ake p lace at pagodas an d temp les ,

wh ic h are decorated wi t h lan terns and offerings of food. In the evening, a

va rie ty of pro c ess io ns tak

t he can dl elit

of the m os t im p ressiv e is

process ion of B uddh ist m on ks at t he

ru ins of Angkor Wat .

fall s on mon th .

t he 15th day Th e f estivi ti es


pla ce -

o n e

I 6






Mo unt ai nou s t e rra i n and w id e , roll in g riv ers mad e northe rn South -eas t Asia relat ive ly in access ib le , so in d igeno u s


ri bes t

h rive d th e re f or mu

c h longe r


ha n in ot her places . Ear ly reco rds show

t hat a f or m of p rimi tive agr ic u lt ure took place in th e reg ion of nort hern Vietna m

and that Ca m bod ians li ved

st il ts a nd su rv ived

co mp re hensive reco rd s star t w ith the

Ind ia n ize d k ing d o m of took hold f rom th e 1st

ce nt u ry AD alo ng t he coast line of

Vietn a m , w hi c h at t hat ti m e

south ern

was i nh ab ited by Ca m bo di a n s. Funa n acted as an imp ortant seaport o n t he

i n ho u ses on The mos t

on f is h.

Fu na n , w hi c h to th e 6t h


pi ce ro ut e betwe en Ch i na an d Indi a


nd ev id ence shows t hat r ice was


u lti va ted i n t he ar ea and

t hat ca nals

we re co nstru c ted to irr igate th e la nd

a nd prov id e a ro ute fo r tr an spo rti ng

t he wet ri ce . In th e late 2nd ce nt ury, an oth er

ng t he wet ri ce . In th e late 2nd ce nt ury, an

Ind oc hin a. Thr ough t heir

I nd

both of th ese ea rly


tr ad e w ith kin gd oms

ad o pt ed Buddh ism a nd Hindu ism,

em ployed San skri t as a sac red

lang ua ge , we re i nf lu en ce d by In d ian

art ,

Above: A Vietnamese woman plough ing a field using a metal p lough and ox.

Th eravad a Budd hi sm . Th e t rav ellin g

Buddh ist m onk s from both c iv ili za ti o ns

Ind iani ze d ki ng dom ,

Ch amp a , a rose


nd in co rp orated Ind ia n sp

ices i n t

he ir

aro un d Da nang in ce ntral Vietn am . A


ui si nes,

w hi c h is st i ll

ev id ent in th e

se mi - p i rat ic soc ie t y, th e Cham s were


ul inary cu lt ures of so ut hern Vietn am

co nti nu o usly at war with th e Vietn am ese to th e no rt h and t he Kh me rs to t he

an d Ca m bod ia t od ay.


west, as t h ey ra ided t h e w hole coast


Belo w: Poklonga rai Cha m to wer, a 13th-century brick-built monument.

rai Cha m to wer, a 13th-century brick-built monument. CHINESE RULE Ove r th e ce


Ove r th e ce ntu ri es, ancie nt em pi res rose


kn ow n as In doc h i na . The

a t hou sa nd yea rs fr om

befo re 100 BC to AD 939, probab ly made

t he fir st dramat ic impact on t he

cu lin ary

ru led Viet na m f or

fe l l in th e reg ion th at

lat er bec am e Chin ese , who

hi story of no rt hern Viet nam a nd

Ca mb odia. Whe n t hey


th e Ch in ese encou nte r ed th e Viet , a

n o m adi c , c la n -base d socie t y, s im i lar t o

co nquer ed the

Ri ve r Del t a i n th e n or th

of Vie tnam ,

th e hi l l trib es today, wh


were rel ian t on

hu nt in g a nd f ishi ng . Th


Chin ese ru le rs

had a hu ge i nf lu ence on th e c ult ure an d

gove rnm ent of Nam Viet,

th e d eve lop me nt of it s c ui si n e. The y

i nt rodu ced th e u se of th e metal p lo ugh and oxe n , dy kes and irri gati on, t he

arti st ry of c hops t icks, stir- fry in g in oi l ,

t he use of nood les , g in ger, soy sa uce

and bea ncu rd , and t he c ulti va t ion of

ri ce . Ch inese sc holar s

tau g ht a nces t or wo rsh i p , Co nf uc ianism , and Ma haya na Buddh ism , w h il e the

sa il ing eas t wa rd s on t he

as we ll as o n

and trave llers

In d ians

In d ia-C hi na tr ade ro ute i nt roduced

we re high ly rega rd ed f or t heir

kn ow ledge of sc ience and m edi c ine, w h ic h th ey passe d on t o t he Viet na mese

m on ks, who di d n 't take long to produ ce

the ir ow n doc tors, bota nists, sc holars,

and vegetarian cooks.

Below: Monks threshing rice in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

ce the ir ow n doc tors, bota n ists, sc holars, and vegetarian cooks. Below:

Hi stor)l oj Vietnall1 and Call1b odia

l 7

Hi stor)l oj Vietnall1 and Call1b odia l 7 Above: The imperial city of Hue, Vietnam,

Above: The imperial city of Hue, Vietnam, with its Chinese-style gate.


While the northern region of Vietnam

and the north -eas tern reach es of Cambod ia we re affected by Chin ese rul e, fa rt her so uth the compet in g k in gdoms were begi nn ing to unite to f o rm the Khmer empire (A D 802 - 1432). Rega rd ed as the g rea t est in Sout h- east Asia, t h is flour ish in g empire spread ove r t he bulk of Thai la nd , Camb odi a, La os and ce ntral Viet nam, and in c lud ed the

famous im peria l c ity of Hu e.

influence of Khmer tradit ions combi ned w it h anc ient Chi nese te c hni ques and the ind igenous coo king of the reg ion produced a uni que, lavi sh co urt cuisine.

The imp eria l city select ion of tasty

suc h as crab c laws stuffed with (g round) pork , beef wrapped i n

bete l leaves, and th e exqu isitely sweet a nd jui cy chao tom, g rill ed shrimp paste on bamboo ske wers. Th e co nstru cti on of t he t empl e c ity of Angkor Wat ha s often been co nsidered to be the cause of the Khmer empire's demise, as it d rained the emp ire of all resources, paving th e way f or cent uri es of Thai co ntrol.

Th e

meals co nsisted of a bite-size morsels,

minced w il d


Lik e it s neighbour Vi etnam, Cambod ia

wa s a lso the 19th

e Fr enc h in

and 20th centu ri es . Un der

co lon ized by th

Frenc h r u le, the port s a nd dra ina ge systems improved , and coffee , tea and rubb er plantations emerged, but the co lonia l po li c ies made the people of Indochina ve ry poor. Ty pica l ly, the positi ve impac t mad e

th e coun tr y by any mea ns they

cou ld. Many refugees died in their

desperate fl ight, but those who surv ived settled in Au str alia , the USA , France and Great Britain. As the Vietnamese co mmun iti es began t o g row and thrive

f led


the Fren c h was a gas t ronomic one,

aroun d th e wor ld

, th e c ultu ra l tr ad it ion s


they introduce d baguettes, co ff ee,

and cu linary heri tage of Vietnam was

ice cream, pate, avocados and asparagus, wh ich is used in the Vietnamese Fr ench - insp ired Crab and Asparagus Soup.


In both Vietnam and Cambodia, a per iod of Japanese occupa ti on and

soci al unrest f ol lowed Wor ld War II and

the Franco-Viet Minh War, unti l the f irst

US troops landed at Danang in March

1965. Th is marked the start of the lo ng,

bloody Vietnam War, whic h destroyed vast tracks of lan d and suppressed any cu ltura l life fo r yea rs. Th ousands of Vietnamese and Am eri can li ves were c laim ed by wa r, and th e Vietnamese

preserved cont i nued

wh il e

to be wrecked by war.

the co untry


Th e Viet nam War came to an official

end in 1975 when Saigon fe ll to

North Vietnamese tr oops, who renam ed it Ho Chi Minh Cit y, but the fig hting did not e nd f or the Vietnamese. Th ere were repeated attac ks on t he Vietn amese bord er by th e Khm er Rouge. Chinese for ces also invaded Vietnam in 1979, and the Khm er Rouge, supported by the Ch i ne se and the Thais , co ntin ued their war aga inst th e Vietnamese f or t he next ten years .


Below: Baguettes were introduced to Vietnam and Cambodia by the French.

th e Vietnamese f or t he next ten years . the Below: Baguettes were introduced



oj Vietnalll

al/r/ Call/bor/ia


While Vietnam was locked in its deadly internal conflict, Cambodia was also targeted by the US carpet-bombing

m issions desperate to flush out any

communists, but thousands of civilians

lost thei r l ives instead. The loss of li ves and suffering didn 't end there, though , as Phnom Penh surrendered to the Khmer Rouge in 1975, which marked

of one of the most brutal

regimes known to man and

the beg inn ing

the deat h of

any form of cultural life for decades.

Proclaimed the Year was cut off from the

as the Khmer Rouge forced the entire

population of Phnom Penh and the

provincial towns, including the sick and

the elder ly, to l ive and work as

cou ntrys ide camps Hard, physica l

s laves in

Zero , Cambodia rest of the world ,

labo ur lasted for 12 to 15 hours a day,

rat ions co nsisted of a meagre bowl of

watery rice-por r idge, and fami l ie s were

sepa rated. It is not known how many

Cambodians died at the brutal hand s

of the Khmer Rouge - researchers put

it at millions.

Below: Angkor Wat temple in the soft evening light at Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Wat temple in the soft evening light at Siem Reap, Cambodia. VIETNAMESE INVASION OF CAMBODIA The


The Vietnamese intervened and invaded Cambodia in 1978. They succeeded i n overthrowing the Khmer Rouge , but they in turn caused the destruction of rice stocks and unharvested rice fields , resulting in widespread famine and the flight of hundreds of thousands of Cambodians to Thailand. Civil war ensued for a further decade as the

Above: A Buddhist shrine within the 12th-century ruins of Banteay Kdei Ta Prohm, Angkor, Cambodia.

Vietnamese sought to control Cambod ia, while the Khme r Rouge retaliated in guerrilla warfare by planting mines

along roads and

buses and lorries , blowing up bridges, and ki l ling

in rice fields , attacking

administrators and teachers.

roads and buses and lorries , blowing up bridges, and ki l ling in rice fields

History oj Vietllalll alld Cal/lb odia


As a counter-attack, the Vietnamese la id

the longest minefield K-5, wh ich stre tched

Thai land to Laos, and stripped the

forests along the roads to prevent

ambushes. In Septembe r

withdrew f rom Cambodia to deal wi th its own economic prob lems , but fighting

between the Khmer Rouge and the govern ment forces co ntinu ed, ca usin g more death s and refugee s fo r seve ral years . T he conflict came to an official end in 1992, and th e peop le of Vietnam


rebu i ld their

1989, Vietnam

th e peop le of Vietnam were rebu i ld their 1989, Vietnam To date, un

To date, un like its neighbou rs Vietnam

and Thailand,

rather thin on the gro und and t end to

co nce ntrate on Phnom Penh w ith its

cos mopo li t an at mo s pher e a nd influx of res taurant s offer i ng Khmer specia liti es as well as Vietnamese, Chin ese, Indian and French cu isin es, or they take a

tour around the magnifice nt,

temples of Angkor. For this reason ,

much of Cambodia is unfamiliar and

forei gn visito rs are sti ll

ancie nt

Above: Th e rice harvest in Cambodia is unpredictable due to the monsoon.

littl e is known

cu isi ne and th e cu ltural customs of

th e cou ntryside. Un li ke den sely popu lated Vietna m,

85 pe r cent of Cambod ia's popu lation

live in t he co untrysid e and are dependent on th e unpred ictab le harvests , wh ich are reliant on t he South-western

monsoon. Eve n today, rural live li hoods are subject to the hardships of disease

and th e years of

occupa ti on. Between the Cambodians and Vietnamese there is a degree of

mistrust, some historic battl es

not make it easy f or the Vietnamese co mmun ities in Cambod ia, nor fo r the

Khm er Krom , th e et hni c Khm ers li vi ng

about the tra d iti o na l

landmines le ft over from the c ivi l war and Vietnam ese

of wh ic h dates back to ove r territory, but it does

i n

so uthern Vietnam . However, one area

i n

which these two co untri es are c lea rly

harm on iously united is in th eir cuis ines,

w hi c h share many in g red ien ts and

c ulinary techniq ues, even if they differ

in t heir cultura l trad itions .

Left: Th e French colonial-style Royal Palace compound, Phnom Penh.

in th e world, the from th e Gulf of

ab le t o

ge t on

w ith


hei r li ves, ll ages, and to

tow ns a nd vi

plant the ir c rops a nd enjoy a life of peace for th e f ir st time in many years .


Not surprisingly, the effec ts

period of suffering and civil war took its toll on the Cambodians and th eir once vibrant culture, and these have not yet

been full y shaken off. Many memories and trad iti ons have been lost a long wit h those who di ed , and most of th e survivi ng population are too young to remember how things were. Until

recent ly, Cambod ia ha s been s hut to

outside world an d tho se touri st s that

have ventured th ere have done

considerable ri sk. Today, Cambodia is one of th e poorest countries in Asia and we lco m es tourists to boost it s stru gg l ing eco n o m y.

of this long

th e

so at

th e poorest countries in Asia and we l co m es tourists to boost it






THE AND VIETNAMESE CAMBODIAN KITCHEN The culinary cultures of Vietnam and Cambodia have both been influenced

The culinary cultures of Vietnam

and Cambodia have both been

influenced by the cuisines of India)


France so there are inevitably many similarities.

China and

Fish and rice

are the staples of both countries and there is a strong emphasis

o nco con u t mil k com bin ed wit h spic esan d her bs) s u chas g 1 ng er)

lemon grass) garlic)

chillies and coriander.



In Vietnam and Cambodia, there are three main groups of rice: long grain,

the United States and Tha iland, producing a number of varieties that

the west,

short grain, and sticky "glutinous" rice. The most widely grown and the most

differ in aroma, flavor, and gluten content. Vietnam's principal rice bowls

freq uently consu med

is the

long gra in;

can be found in the land around the

in the cooler northern regions of Vietnam and Cambodia , the plumper short grain sometimes takes preference. Sticky rice is often used in porridge-style dishes and wrapped in banana leaves to make savoury and sweet "cakes".

Red River in the north and the Mekong Delta in the south. In Cambod ia, rice is equally important. Grown primar ily in the emera ld-green rice paddies of the Battambang region in

Rich in carbohyd rate and conta in ing

eve ryday

it is the pr inc ipa l ingred ient in mea ls as we ll as in snacks and

vitamins A and B, rice is one of the healthiest stap le foods. It is used to

festive foods. A typ ica l Cambod ian breakfast consists of a bowl of bobar, rice

make vinegar and wine , and it is

porridge, whic h is



ind ispensab le when g round in t o f lour

accompanied by a little f ish or



to make French-style bag uettes and crepes, the ubiq uitous, paper-th in wrappers used for spring rolls, and dried and fresh nood les. Tradit iona ll y

r ice is boi led or steamed, then may

st ir-fried; sticky r ice is steamed unt il it resemb les porridge. In Vietnam, rice is rega rded as the "staff of life". It plays an important role as a staple food as well as in the economy and the culture. There are even rigorous rice-cooking competitions

based on the tradition of preparing rice for soldiers going into battle. With lush carpeted valleys and hi llside terraces of fertile, well-i rrigated rice crops, this long, narrow country manages to rank third in the rice-export game, behind


Below: A woman ploughing rice fields in the traditional way with a buffalo.

the regular and glut inous va ri et ies are popular with a stronger emphas is on the red and brown grains, which stil l retain the ir bran husks. Although the texture and nutr it iona l qua lit ies of the red and brown gra ins are much greater, most Vietnamese dishes call for the polished

va ri eties to form the basis of a meal that wi l l then be balanced by vegetab les, herbs and spices for their texture, co lour and flavour. Within their groups, there are many

types of ri ce, all of which the

and Cambodians can differentiate by the aroma or taste of the raw grain.

When buying, the qua lity and

texture of

the grain wi l l be discussed at length as

each cook requi res a particular rice for the meal that day. Several long grain and glutinous varieties are ava ilable in Asian stores and supermarkets .


are ava ilable in Asian stores and supermarkets . Vietnamese Above: Jasmine or Thai fragrant rice
are ava ilable in Asian stores and supermarkets . Vietnamese Above: Jasmine or Thai fragrant rice

Above: Jasmine or Thai fragrant rice has tender, aromatic grains. It is widely available in supermarkets in the West.


Gao, or long grain, rice is the da il y stap le of

a ll South-east As ian cook i ng . Often

de li ca t ely scen t ed, suc h as f ragrant jasm i ne rice, t he grains shou ld be dry, thin, firm and trans lucent when raw. Once steamed the tender gra ins should still retain some bite and turn white and

f l uff up eas ily with a fork . Whether

polished or unpolished , aromatic or nutty, long grain rice is used throughout Vietnam and Cambodia as the absorbent bed for many fish and meat curries and stews. The Vietnamese prefer the long gra in jasmine variety (gao thom), cooked using the absorption method.


Often referred to as sticky or sweet rice

(gao nep) , these grains are soaked for several hours, sometimes overnight, before cook ing. Gl utinous rice comes in

both long and short grain va r ie t ies.

T he

long grain is used for both savoury and

sweet dishes, such as the popular

porridge-style dishes of South-east Asia ,

whereas the plumper short grain is

favoured for dumplings, puddings and festive sweets. In contrast to long grain

rice, th e high ly polished, grain is an opaque wh ite

the starch content when raw and turns translucent when cooked. Although the grains retain a degree of f irm ness, t hey

do tend to st ick to one another, thus lend i ng themse lves idea ll y to be ing handled in clumps and mou lded into

glutinous rice colour due to


2 3


The primary staple of both Vietnamese and Cambodian cook ing, rice is used in many forms.

Rice flour

Bot gao, or rice flour, is made by grinding the raw grain until it is a very fine powder. Al l types of grain can be used a nd the packets are usually lab e ll ed accordingly. Long g rain and medium g ra in r ice flour is used to make th e dough for f resh and dried rice noodl es, as well as for dumplings , crepes, buns , and the Vietnamese rice papers. Glutinous rice flour, sometimes called sweet rice flour, is reserved for sweet pastries , pancakes and cakes. Rice flour, also called rice powder, is ava il able in Asian stores and sh ou ld be kept in an a irtight container in a d ry place .

Toasted rice flour

Thinh, or t oasted ri ce fl our, imparts a coarser te xt ure and smoky flavour to particular dishes, such as the Vietnamese speciality of shrimp paste gr ill ed on sticks of sugar cane. It is usua l ly made with short grain rice by shaki ng a few handful s of th e raw gra in s in a dry, heavy-based pan over a

s of th e raw gra in s in a dry, heavy-based pan over a Above:

Above: Rice flour is finely ground and thoroughly pulverized. As a result, it has a very light texture and is used in desserts such as pancakes.

medium heat,

brown. Th e toasted gra i ns are then ground by hand , using a mortar and pestle, or in a conventional coffee grinder, to a powder. Home- made toasted rice flour t ends to be gr itt ier than the comme rc ial fine powders. Store toasted ri ce f lour in an a irti ght co ntaine r in a d ry place.

unti l they turn go lden

ght co ntaine r in a d ry place. unti l they turn go lden Above:

Above: Patna rice is one of the many types of long-grain rice.

balls t o dip into a sauce, or to be flavoured with a dollop of sweet bean

paste, t o

wrapped in banana leaves. In the streets of Vi etnam and Cambodia, g lu tinous ri ce is oft en eaten as a fi l lin g snack, sweetened w ith a li ttle coconut mi l k and sugar sprink led over the to p.

be used as fillings for cakes


Thi s unpolished, who legrain glutinous ri ce is reserved for sweet dishes throughout South-east Asia. When soaked in water and cooked, the grains turn a deep redd ish-purpl e co lour.

ha s

Sometimes ca lled forbidden ri ce, it

a distin ct n utty flavou r. More fi ll ing than

whi t e ri ce,

sweetened with coconut milk and sugar. It is especially popular in the mango and durian season. Black sticky rice is avai lab le in some As ian ma r kets.

it is often eaten as a snack,


From th e jun g les of Cambodia comes thi s glut inou s rice spec iality. Requiring no cook in g utensi ls, the raw grains are mixed with coconut cream and shredded coconut to form a stiff mixture, which is then stuffed into the hollow of a

bamboo tube. Th e bamboo

is th en

placed over a fire for about an hour, until the rice is cooked and the c harred bamboo can be

pee led off lik e a banana skin.

Below: Black and white glutinous rice.
Below: Black and white glutinous rice.


R ice


Mo st ri ce g ra ins are cooked usin g the abso rpti on method, except glutinous ri ce, w h ich is soa ked and st eamed.

Long grain rice

In Vietnam and Cambodia , long grain

rice is the most If the main d ish

then a bowl of stea med ri ce or rice wrappers wi ll prov ide t h e sta rc h in t he

mea l. Th e volu me of rice grains doubles when cooked . As a gu ide for four

peop le, yo u w ill

freq uently eate n gra in.

doesn't in c lu de noodles,

need about 200gl7oz/

in. doesn't in c lu de noodles, need about 200gl7oz/ Rice papers Uniqu e to Vietnamese

Rice papers

Uniqu e to Vietnamese cu isine, these del ica t e triangular or circular rice pape rs or wrappers (banh trang) , made

f ro m rice fl our, water and

to hold. T hey are dried

in the sun on bamboo mats that leave

sa lt,

are b r itt le

ai r

in th e open

the ir criss-cross pattern

on the

wrappers . In Cambodia,

these wrappers

are used

spec iali ti es, othe rwise the Chinese

spring roll wrappers made from wheat flour are more common, just as they are

in Th ailand.

Once they have been reco nstitut ed i n water, t hese wrap per s are used for

making th e fri ed Vietnamese sp rin g ro ll s,

when preparing Vietna mese

cha gio, and

cuon. Th ey be used as

meatball s, g ri l led meats and stir-f r ied

th e li g ht summ er rol ls, goi are a lso put on the table to wrappings for sa lads,

Above: Rice pape rs are dried on bamboo mats, which give them their familiar cross-hatch pattern.




of ri ce i n

600mlll pi ntl21/2


Not a ll ri ce

papers are pla in , some are

wa t er,

but t he proport ion of wate r

a nd

fl avou red w ith coco nu t, gi nge r or pandanus (sim il ar t o van illa). Th e papers that are made with glutinous rice f lour are toasted so t hat they puff up and have a chewy texture . Packet s of dried ri ce papers are availab le in As ian stores and some supermarkets. Before using, the dried ri ce papers must be sepa rat ed and soaked in wa t e r, two to four at a time, unti l soft and pli ab le. Kee p any remai nin g papers in an ai rtig ht co nt ai ner or t hey wi ll dry out and cu rl up.

Fresh rice papers

cook i ng tim e w il l va ry slightly w it h

different gra i ns .

Rinsing rice

Long grain ri ce should always be r insed to remove the excess starch , so t hat t he cooked grai ns a re light and fl uffy and sepa rate eas il y.

grai ns a re light and fl uffy and sepa rate eas il y. d i


ishes. Wrapping tasty morsels and

In add ition to dri ed papers, the


i pping them in

sa uce

is a typical

Vietnamese make fresh rice papers

Vietnamese way of enjoying a meal.

(banh uot), which are used exclusively for wrapp ing minced (ground) meats.

are used exclusively for wrapp ing minced (ground) meats. Rice wine and vinegar Ri ce is

Rice wine and vinegar

Ri ce

is oft en

dist ill ed to

ma ke w in e

a nd vi nega r. Th e c lear, c lea n-

tasting vinegar is used for pickl ing vegetables coo kin g . Bot h the wine

an d in and

vinegar are made fr om fe r mente d ri ce grai ns w hi ch lend a distinct, sharp taste. Bottles are

avai lable in Asian and Chinese stores.

1 Put the measured quantity of grains

i nt o a bo w l and cove r w ith co ld wa ter. Sw i rl th e grains

becomes clou dy, then leave t o settl e.

in th e water un t il


clou dy, then leave t o settl e. in th e water un t il it



Cook ing rice

Sticky glutinous rice

The traditional way to cook rice in

This type of rice needs t o be soaked

So uth-east Asia is by absorpt ion. Th e

i n water for

a long

time be fore cooking

measured grains are put into a heavy


at least 6


preferab ly longer. For

pan or clay pot, with a proportionally measured amount of water, and the

the best results, glutinous rice should be steamed, preferably in a trad itional

rice is cooked until all the water has



Ther e is no need to

been absorbed.

partial ly



rice first . Th e vo lume

partial ly cook the rice first . Th e vo lume 1 Put the rinsed grain

1 Put the

rinsed grain s into a heavy pan

and pour in the

the water to the boil, sti r once, then

red uce the heat to low.

measured water. Brin g

once, then red u ce the heat to low. measured water. Brin g 2 Cover the

2 Cover the pan with the lid and leave

to cook gently for abo ut 20-

unt il al l th e liquid ha s been absorbed.

25 min utes,

20- unt il al l th e liquid ha s been absorbed. 25 min utes, 3

3 Remove the pan from the heat and

of rice grains

For four people you wil l need about 200g/70z/l c up st icky rice, and the cook in g time may vary slightly from gra i n t o gra in.

doub les when cooked.

Soaking and rinsing the rice

o gra in. doub les when cooked. Soaking and rinsing the rice 1 Put the rice

1 Put the rice grains into a bowl , cover

with co ld water and leave to soak for at least 6 hou rs.



Drain the ri ce t hrough a s ieve.

Ri nse

thoroughly under runnin g cold th en drain again.


Additional flavourings

g cold th en drain again. water, Additional flavourings Ve ry ofte n a little extr

Ve ry ofte n a little extr a f lavour is imparted by addi ng a bouquet garni of fresh herbs, or spices such as star

an ise, fr esh

g in ge r or lemon grass , to the

leave to stand for 5-10 minutes to allow

cook in g liqu id. Rice is also delicious

t he

rice to steam

a littl e longe r. Fluff up

cooked in coconut milk or a well-


tender g rain s w it h a f ork a nd se rve .

flavoured stock, instead of water.

For a quick, filling snack

Whi le sti ll hot, spoon in t o bowls, pour over

coconut m ilk and spr in kl e w ith

sugar In Vietnam , sticky rice is often topped wit h stewed,

sweetened red Cambodia , the

cooked in c oconu t m il k with bo il ed, swee t ened black-eyed peas sti rred in.

sticky rice a li ttle

bea ns ; in sticky rice is

Steaming the rice

1 Fill a wok one-th ird full with Place a bamboo steame r, with

wate r. the li d

on, over the wok and bring the water underneath to the boi l. Alt ernat ively, use

a conve nti onal steamer.

to the boi l. Alt ernat ively, use a conve nti onal steamer. 2 Lift the


Lift the l id off the dampened piece of

ove r the rack. and sp read it

of the muslin over the rice, put the lid back on the ste amer and st eam fo r about 25 minutes , unti l the rice is tender but still firm.

steam er and p la ce a muslin (cheesec lot h )

Put the rice in the midd le out a littl e. Fold t he edges

Food safety

Never keep cooked rice warm fo r more t han a short t ime , or you may risk food poison in g. Rice is susceptible to a bacte r ium, Bacillus cereus, which is killed by cook in g, but can leave behi nd spores that germinate if cooked rice is insufficie nt ly re heated or kept warm for long periods of time. When buying fre sh rice prod ucts store carefu lly and use with in 12 hours.




Often referred to as vermice l li , these

dried rice nood les (bun), made from

rice flour, salt and water, are thin and

w iry and sold

in bund les. Before using,

they must be soaked in water unti l plia ble and the n the noodles only need to be cooked in boiling wa t er for a few seconds, unti l tender and at dente like

Italian pasta. In Vietnam and Cambodia, these noodles a re used in soups and sa lads - they are often used t o wrap


Dried noo dl es ca n be boug ht in var ious

packaged forms from most Asian stores

and supermarkets. The

is that thinner varieties require less

cooking time and are served with li ght

ingred ients and thin broths, whereas

the th icker nood les take a l ittle longer

to cook and are balanced w ith heav ier

ingredients and stronge r flavours .

Before cook in g, dried rice noodles must be soaked in

basic princ iple

warm wate r for about

South -east Asian cooking uses nood les

in great quantities. If the main

doesn't contain rice to provide the starch content of the meal, then it will consist of noodles. They are eaten at all

hours of the day, in a soup for breakfast,

si mply

snack, or more elaborately incorporated into a main dish with meat, fish and

vegetables. It is no wonder that the

most common type of food sta ll

Vie tna m and Cambod ia is the "r ice a nd nood le" shop, as thes e two ingredients

fo rm the basis of eve ry dis h.

In Vietnam and Cambodia, there are a var iety of noodle s, many of them made from rice. Th e everyday noodles in Vietnam fa ll into three ma i n types:

bun, w h ich are long and thi n , simil ar to

Ita li an verm ice ll i and called ri ce sti they are u sed in soups, side d ishes , and as a wrapping for meat and

sea food ; banh pho, also ca lled rice

sticks, but they are flatter, thicker and

st urd ier, ideal for subs tanti al soups suc h

as pho, and stir- fries; and hoi which resemb le angel

and are prim ari ly used in thin broths.

In addition to the common rice nood les, th e Vietnamese and Cambod ians bot h cook with wheat nood les, egg nood les, which are often

referred to as Cambodian-style nood les in Vietnam, and the translucent Chinese


from mung beans.

d is h

stir-fried for a quick and fil li ng


around raw

vegetab les and herbs in


minutes, until pl iable. Th e


Viet namese

table sa lad,

as wel l as to

we ight usua ll y doubles on

soak i ng.

wrap aro und grill ed meats and she l lfish.


e ru le is t o soa k we ll


soft en , b ut to


Th ese fl at , thin dri ed ri ce noodles (banh pho) resemb le lingu ine and are avai lable in severa l widths, wh ich start

cook b ri ef ly. If th e noodl es are coo ked for too long t hey will become soggy.

Once softe ned , bo th t h e rice ve rmicelli

and rice stic ks need to

bo i li ng water fo r seco nd s, ra th er th a n

be coo ked in

at around

2mm/ 1 !J6 in. Al so made from

minutes, until t e nd er and firm, ju st li ke

rice flour,

sa lt a nd water, they are used

at dente Itali an pasta. Divid e the noodle s

in salads and stir-fri es, after being softened in water.


Known as banh pho tuoi, fresh rice noodles are thicker than dried ones. They are often served as a side dish with curries and vegetab le dishes . Like t he dried variety, they require minima l coo king. In some recipes th ey are just


or they are added at the last moment to stir-fr ied and steamed dishes. Use them on the day of purchase.

in warm water to heat them up ,

amo ng individual bow ls and lad le stock

or a meat broth

i n a wok to sti r- f ry.

ove r them or put them

Below: Soaking dried vermicelli noodles .

r them or put them Below: Soaking dried vermicelli noodles . MAKING FRESH RICE NOODLES A
r them or put them Below: Soaking dried vermicelli noodles . MAKING FRESH RICE NOODLES A


A va ri ety of dried noodles are availabl e

in Asian st ores a nd supermarkets, but fresh ones are qu ite different and not

that d ifficult to make . For a

snack, the

freshly made noodle sheets can be drenched in sugar or honey, or dipped

i nto a sweet

cho ice. Simi larly, you can c ut them into

wide strips and gen tl y st ir-fry them w ith

ga rli c, ginge r, ch illi es and nuoc mam or

soy sauce - a popular snack enjoyed in

bot h Vietnam and Cambodia.

or savo u ry sa uce of you r

Left: Different widths of dried rice vermicelli noodles.

cks -

the fine banh hair pasta

noodles wh ich are made

of you r Left: Different widths of dried rice vermicelli noodles. cks - the fine banh

Noo dl es

2 7

As a guide to serve fou r, you

w i ll

need about 225g/80z/2 cups rice flour to 600mlll pint/2l/2 cups water. You will also need a wide pot with a domed lid, or wok lid, a piece of th in, smooth cotton cloth (like a c lean d ish towel), and a lightly oiled baking tray.

Preparing the batter

and a lightly oiled baking tray. Preparing the batter Pl ace t he f lour in

Pl ace t he f lour in a bow l and

litt le wa t er to f o r m a s m

st ir i n a

oot h paste.

Grad ua ll y, po ur in t h e rest of the water, whis ki ng all the t ime to make sure there

a re no lumps.

and I Sm l1l tbsp vegetable oi l . Set aside for I S minutes.

Beat i n a pinch

of sa lt

Preparing the steamer

I S minutes. Beat i n a pinch of sa lt Preparing the steamer M eanwhile,

M eanwhile, fi l l a wide pot w it h water.

Cut a piece of cloth a little larger than the top of the pot. Stretch it over the top of the pot (you may need someone to help you), pull ing the edges down over the sides so that the cloth is as taut as

a drum, then wind a piece of string

aro und the edge , securing

wit h a knot or bow. Using a sharp knife, make 3 sma ll slit s, about 2.Scmll i n from th e edge of the c loth, at regu lar

the cloth

int e rva ls.

wa t er


If yo u need

to top

u p the

d u r in g cook ing , po u r it through

ese sli ts .

Cooking the noodle shee ts

po u r it through ese sli ts . Cooking the noodle shee ts 1 Br

1 Br ing the water in the pot to the St ir the batte r and lad le a port ion

(ro ugh ly 30- 4Sm l/2-3 tbsp) on to the

c loth,


boi l.

swir ling it to form wide c ircle.


lO- I Scm/

4-6in boi l. swir ling it to form wide c ircle. a lO- I Scm/ 2

2 Cover with the domed lid and steam

for a minute, until the nood le sheet is

translucent. Carefu lly,

or knife under the noodle sheet and gently prize it off the cloth - if it do esn 't

peel off easily, you may need to steam it for a little longer.

insert a spatu la

3 Transfer the noodle sheet to the oiled tray and repeat with the rest of the batter. As they accumulate, stack the sheets on top of each other, brushing the tops with oil so they don't stick

together. Cover the stack with a clean

d ish towel to keep them moist.


Durin g the coo kin g,

up th e wa t er thr oug h on e of t he sl its .

yo u m ay

have t o to p

The clot h mi ght occasio nal ly need to be

p ull ed ti ght aga in

oth erw ise th e batt er will f orm a poo l

a nd

if it beg in s t o sag ,

be t oo th ic k.

Right: Egg noodles are available dried and fresh in the West.


Also called cellophane or glass noodles


are as thin as rice vermicell i and white in colour. When cooked they t urn

transparent, resembling strips of cellophane or glass . On their own, they do not have much flavour but, when cooked with other ingredients , they absorb the flavours, so they are often used to add texture and starch to mixtures for fi lling spring rol ls.

(mien ), these dried mung bean

for fi lling spring rol ls. (mien ), these dried mung bean Soak the delicate noodles

Soak the delicate noodles in warm water

for about 15 minutes, until pliable, and


cook as req uired.

dra i n, cut into shorter strands and


Made with wheat flour and eggs, the

Vietna mese often refer to these as

Shanghai-style or Cambodian noodles or mi. Firmer and denser than rice noodles, they are used in stir-fr ies and soups. They are sold fresh in As ian stores.

mi. Firmer and denser than rice noodles, they are used in stir-fr ies and soups. They



The people of Vietnam and Cambodia ea t a lot more bread (banh mil than those in the rest of South-east Asia. Having both been influenced by French co lonization and wartime occupation, bread has become a daily feature. Somewhere between a long, crispy

French baguette and the wider Middle Eastern loaf, the bread of Vietnam and Cambodia is usually made from a combination of wheat and rice flours and is shorter than a baguette with a slit down the midd le. Whether used for gril led meat and sa lad sandwiches, flavoured with fresh herbs and chillies , or smeared with a local pork pate and a splash of chilli sauce, freshly baked loaves are available in the streets of


noodles. Torn into chunks to dip into stews and curries, bread is also served

as an alternative to noodles or rice. And then there is the ice cream sandwich. A popular sweet snack with

c hildren in both Vietnam and Cambodia

- thick chunks of baguette are halved

lengthways and a wedge of ice cream is tucked in between them - a South-east

Vietnam j ust as easily as

Asian version of an ice cream cone. Buns and dumpl in gs fall into the bread category, as they start with a dough made from wheat flour and

yeast. However, fol lowing anc ient Chinese tradtions, buns and dumplings are often stuffed and usually steamed, although some buns are baked after steaming. Flatbreads and wrappers,

used for folding around morsels of food an d for spring ro ll s, ca n also be includ ed in the bread cu lture. Made from rice or wheat flo ur, they are baked on gridd les, or left in the su nshine to dry.


the main shopping areas of cit ies

such as Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City, bakeries and patisseries, stuffed

Left: A woman baking traditional rice flatbread in Hoi An, Vietn am .

Above: In the markets of Ho Chi Minh City, stalls are laden with freshly baked baguettes, which are eaten almost as much as rice and noodles.

full of enticing, freshly baked cakes, pastries and a variety of sweet and

savo ury

influence, as we ll as the travels

refugee Khmer and Vietnamese who have returned to the ir homelands to set

up business. International favourites

such as jam tarts, choco late ec lairs, gingerbread men and sponge cakes, all baked on the premises, are enjoyed by passers-by with a good cup of tea or coffee.

loaves, reflect the French

of many

Br ead



Some loaves are made from wheat flour alone but, in order to achieve the unique lightness and subtle f lavour of

trad i tiona I Vietna mese and Ca m bod ia n

bread , it is essent ial to mix the wheat

with rice flour. Once the dough has


fo r

the second time, use a sharp

kn ife

to make a sl it lengthways along

the top before baking it in the oven. As t he fresh ly made bread is so

de li c ious, one loaf won't go ve ry far,


it is wort h mak i ng at least two.

go ve ry far, so it is wort h mak i ng at least two. 1

1 Crumble the yeast into a bowl with

your fingers. Add 60ml/4 tbsp of the

into a bowl with your fingers. Add 60ml/4 tbsp of the 4 Clean the bow l

4 Clean the bow l and

the dough into the bowl and cover it

light ly oi l it.



water and

crea m the yeast to a smooth

with a damp dish towe l. Leave

to r ise


liquid. Sift

the flours and

and double in size -

at least 2

hou rs.

1 5gf!/2oz fr es h yeas t

bow l. Make a we ll in the

sa lt into a large centre and

Knock back the risen dough by

450ml1l5fl oz/s cant 2 cup s

po ur in t he yeas t mixture. Pour

the rest

punch ing it

with your

knuck les. Lift it on

co ld wa t er

of the water i nto the we ll in th e centre.

to a f loured

surface and knead it.

350g1l2oz/11/2 o z cup s unb leache d

st ro ng white bread f lo ur


5 0gll2oz/2 c ups r ice

fl our

15gf!/2o z sea saIt

15m lll

t bsp vege ta ble

oi l


If us in g dr ied yeast, sprin k le 10gf!,.2 oz

over 60ml /4 tb sp of water and 2.5 ml l

lh ts p su ga r in a small

yeas t , suga r and wa t er until the ye ast

bow l. St i r the

is we ll blended. Set asi de fo r about

15 minut es, unt il t he mi xtur e is f oa my.

Fo l lo w th e rec ipe from step 2.

he mi xtur e is f oa my. Fo l lo w th e rec ipe

Above: Baguettes are a common sight alongside the noodles and vegetables in southern Vietnamese markets and are frequently eaten smeared with pate.

markets and are frequently eaten smeared with pate. 2 Using your hand, draw a little flour

2 Using your hand, draw a little flour

into the centre and mix well. Draw in a

little more f lou r and mix until you ha ve formed a thick , smooth batter in the centre . Sprinkle a little of the flour over the top of the batter to prevent a skin

form ing and leave it to f roth 20 minutes.

for about

a skin form ing and leave it to f roth 20 minutes. for about 3 Using

3 Using your hand, draw in the rest of

the flour and work the mixture into a

spr i ngy dough. Lift it on to a f loured

surface and continue to knead for about

10 minut es. Shape it

into a ba ll.

to knead for about 10 minut es. Shape it into a ba ll. 5 Divide the

5 Divide the dough into 2 pieces and

knead them into

12in long. Place both lengths of dough on a baking tray and , with a knife, slit the su rfa ce of each piece len gthways. Cover with a damp dish towel and leave

again to double in size. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7.

sausages , about 30cml

the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. sausages , about 30cml 6 Sprinkle th e loaves with flou

6 Sprinkle th e loaves with flou r, or brush with egg yolk and bake for 15 minutes . Reduce the heat to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 and bake for 20-25 minute s, until the loaves sound hollow when tapped .



Raw, sti r- fried, bra ised, pic kled or sa Ited, vegeta b les are worked into every meal in some manner in Vietnam and Cambodia. Almost every dish includes a few vegetables but, in

add ition,



be a vegetab le side

d ish, salad, pickled

vegetab les, or

leaves to wrap around the food. The


must be balanced with vegetables,

protein and starc

important, so "sa lads" might inc lude

su c h i ngred ients as f ru

and rice nood les. In t he warm southe rn regio ns of Viet nam and t he ce nt ral lowlands of

Ca mb od ia, the grow in g seaso n is lo n g

and ab un dant, providing t he regional

cu isines with a vast c hoice of indigenous, and adopted, roots and leaves for exc it in g vege table d ishes and re fr es h ing, cru nchy salads . In the coo l no rt h of Vietnam, vegetab les are more ofte n steamed, stir-fried and preserved, bo r rowing traditiona l Chinese methods. And fo l lowi ng anc ient Tao ist phi losophy,

thing to remember is that a mea l

h . Tex t u re is a lso


mea t , shel lfi sh

that a mea l h . Tex t u re is a lso it, mea t

Above: Tiny pea aubergines are bright green and grow in clusters.

some vegetab les are be li eved to possess coo lin g "y in " q ualit ies, ot hers the

war m ing "yang". It is th ought that If

these yin and yang forces are not bala nced, illness will ensue. This anc ien t bel ief is most prominent in t he culi nary c ul t ure of Chinese- in f luenced northern Vietnam, where a numbe r of Ch inese commun it ies sti ll live.


Technically fruits, but eaten as vegetables, aubergines (ca tim) origina l ly came to Vietnam and Cambodia from India and T hailand . Regarded as cooling, they are wide ly used in both countries. The most common aubergine is long and thin, in shades of pale green and purple. This is the most popular variety as the flavour is sweet with very little bitterness. Incredibly versatile, it is added to stews, curries and stir-fries so that the flesh absorbs all the delicious spices and flavours of the d ish. It is ofte n cal led an "As ian" aubergine and is available in Asian stores and some supermarkets. When choosing,

streaky pale green and

cream-colo ured

aubergines are usual ly halved and added to stews and curries. The tiny,

green pea aubergines are a lso popular throughout South-east

Asia. Litera lly the size of garden

peas , t hese aubergi nes grow in clusters and have a slight ly bitter taste with a pleasant ly fir m texture. In Cambod ia, pea aubergines

are added and c urr ies.

to sp icy d i pp ing sauces


Dense bamboo groves are a com mon feat ur e o n t he Sou th- east As ia n landscape. Tec hni call y a giant grass,

ba mb oo has many im po rtant uses. Th e

long, t h in st ems or

mak ing bas kets, furn itu re and co nica l

" tru nks" a re use d f or

ha t s,

as we ll as many k itc hen ute nsil s, suc h as

or ha t s, as we ll as many k itc hen ute nsil s, suc

Above: Bamboo shoots are available fresh, but sliced, canned shoots are easier to find.

steamers, stra iners and chopst icks. The leaves are fermented and d isti lled to make a popu la r pale -g ree n li que u r, and the shoots are harvested for their tender, delicious flesh . The small, pine cone-sized shoots (mang) that are d ug

up j u st

ground are very tasty.

before they em erge f ro m t he

In Vietnam and Cambodia , the

bamboo " trunks" are cooki ng vesse ls . T he

w ith ma ri nated po rk , f ish or c h ic ken


The long, narrow, poi nted leaves have their cul inary use too. Dri ed and so ld in

also used as

hol low is st uffed

placed ove r an ope n f ire to coo k.

as hol low is st uffed placed ove r an ope n f ire to coo

loo k fo r sm oo t h , unb lem ished sk in and firm flesh. Thai aube rgines are also used in Vietnam and Cambodia. Round and firm, the size of a pin g-pong ball, these

Left: Thai aubergines are mostly small and round.

Ve g et a b Ies

3 I

Ve g et a b Ies 3 I Above: Long beans are similar in flavour to

Above: Long beans are similar in flavour to Western green beans.

bundles i n t h e ma rkets, t h ey are soaked

i n wate r u ntil p li ab le an d th en used to

w rap food t hat

impa rt i ng their

is to be steamed,


un ique flavour to

the dish. Fresh, pickled or dried , bamboo shoots are popular throughout Vietnam and Cambod ia. To p repa re the shoots, the sheaths are stripped off and the tough base removed. Once peeled, the inner core is sliced and blanched in boiling water for a few minutes, then drained and rinsed unde r co ld water. The creamy-white, fresh shoots have a wonderful texture and flavour and are delicio us added to stir-fries and soups . Dr ied shoots require soaking before use . When cooked, they should retain

a crunch and taste slightly sweet. Fresh

shoots are available in Asian stores, but cans of ready-cooked shoots, preserved in brin e , ca n be bo ug ht in most st o res.


Sometimes referred to as "snake beans" or "chopstick beans", these long, green beans (dau dau) are the immature pods of black-eyed beans (peas) and can

measure up to 60cm/2ft in length. Generally they are stir-fried just with a

few basic

and ginger a nd eaten as a side d ish. Penci l-t h in and dark or lig ht green i n co lou r, they are avai lable fresh i n Asian markets.

flavourings such as gar lic

PULSES Beansprouts Dr ied beans are used extens ively in Vietnam and Cambodia, in both
Dr ied beans are used extens ively in
Vietnam and Cambodia, in both sweet
and savoury dishes.
Popular throughout Vietnam and
Cambodia , as well as the rest
South-east Asia, beansprou ts
can be eaten raw or added to stir-fries
Red beans
Dried red beans, also called azuki
beans, are some
of the sma ll est
available. In Vietnam, they are
generally reserved for sweet dishes of
Chinese or igin Bo iled until soft, they
are mashed to form a sweet bean
paste, which is eaten with swee t rice,
or used to fi ll steamed buns and
and soups for their crunchy bite. The
most common sprouts come from
mung beans and soya beans. They
are simi lar in appearance, except
soya beansprouts are almost twice the
size at about 8cm/3in long. The stems
of both are white, but soya bean
heads are green, while those of mung
beans are yellow. Soya beans are
dumpl ings.
T hey are also served
as a
urdier and stronger in flavour,
sweet soup or dr ink. In Cambodia,
black-eyed beans are more common,
and are used in a similar way.
whereas mung beans are delicate and
watery. Both types are nutritious, rich
in vitamins and minerals.
Fresh sprouts can be stored in the
refrigerator for up to 2-3 days .
Packets of mung beansprouts are
avai lable in most superma rkets. Soya
beansprouts can be found in Asian
stores and some health stores.
Growing beansprouts
Above: Red or azuki beans.
First soak the dried beans in water
overnight. Drain and r i nse thorough ly,
then put them in a large plastic lidded
container. Punch holes in the lid for
air. Alternatively, use a jar covered
with muslin (cheesecloth) Put in a
warm, dark place for 4- 5 days,
rins i ng in l ukewarm water three times
day, unti l they sprout. Take the
sprouts out of the conta iner and rinse
them, picking out the husks and
beans that have not sprouted.
Mung beans
These small beans (dau xanh) are
prized in Vietnam and Cambodia.
dr ied mung beans, with husks
on, are green in colour, whereas the
pee led ones a re
ye ll ow and so ld w hole
a nd sp li t . Both require soak i ng in
water before cook ing. Popular and
versatile , mung beans are used in
savoury dishes and fillings, as well as
in puddings, sweet snacks, and iced
drinks. Who le or split mung beans are
ava i lable in Asia n stores, health st ores
and most supermarkets.
Right: Both mung and soya
beansprouts are widely used in
Vietnamese cooking.



Ve get a bl e 5

3 2 Ve get a bl e 5 Above: A luffa squash has a sweet, delicate

Above: A luffa squash has a sweet, delicate flavour when young.

If the

l uffa

is young , al l you

need to

do is was h an d slice it. Luffa s se ld om


toughen as

which case remove the ridges but leave the skin between , so that t he l uffa is striped green and white. If the ski n is very tough , it is best to pee l it completely. Unl ike cucumber or young , tender co urget t es, l uffa is ne ver ea t en raw. Keep fr esh luffa in the refri ge rator, but do not sto re it fo r too long as with in 2-3 days of pu rc ha se it will start to go li mp.

need peel ing , but so m et i mes the

the vege t ab le ri pens , in