During orientation week, GSC volunteers are given a tour of famous historical and cultural sites in and around Phnom Penh and have the opportunity to explore the new culture, food, and sights of Cambodia. There are many new experiences just awaiting your arrival! For example, what can one expect of the food in Cambodia?
Adventurous eaters know that traditional Khmer food shares a common, unfamiliar flavor across many dishes. The secret ingredient is prahok – a salty, pungent paste made from fermented fish. While prahok is sometimes served in banana leaves and eaten on its own, more commonly the tangy, fishy substance is used to add a kick to other dishes. New to Western palettes, potent prahok can take some getting used to. Even meats and vegetarian dishes are frequently given a fishy flavor by adding generous doses of prahok. If the flavor becomes too much for you, stick to eating noodle dishes which, by default, never contain prahok.
Fish isn’t always the predominate flavor found in Khmer food. A large variety of spices turn up in Cambodian stews and curries. Cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, tumeric, and star anise lend a hint of Indian influence. Kroueng – a combination of chili, native, and imported spices – is prepared ahead of time as a paste and added to Cambodian dishes for an instant zing.
For more information our Cambodia programs, please visit our website here.