Khmer cuisine is similar to that of its Southeast Asian neighbors. It shares many similarities with Thai cuisine, Vietnamese cuisine and Teochew cuisine. Cambodian cuisine also uses fish sauce in soups, stir-fried cuisine, and as dippings. The Chinese influence can be noted in the common chha (Khmer: ឆារ, Stir frying) and in the use of many variations of rice noodles. A particular popular dish of ultimately Chinese origin is “pork broth rice noodle soup”, similar to phở, called kuy tieu (Khmer: គុយទាវ). Indian influenced dishes include many types of curry known as kari (Khmer: ការី) that call for dried spices such as star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and fennel as well as local ingredients like lemongrass, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, shallots and galangal that give dishes a distinctive Cambodian flavor.Banh Chaew (Khmer: នំបាញ់ឆែវ), the Khmer version of the Vietnamese Bánh xèo, is also a popular dish.
Khmer cuisine is noted for the use of prahok (ប្រហុក), a type of fermented fish paste, in many dishes as a distinctive flavoring. When prahok is not used, it is likely to be kapǐ (កាពិ) instead, a kind of fermented shrimp paste. Coconut milk is the main ingredient of many Khmer curries and desserts. Cambodians prefer either jasmine rice or sticky (glutinous) rice. The latter is used more in dessert dishes with fruits such as durian while jasmine rice is eaten with meals. Almost every meal is eaten with a bowl of rice. Typically, Cambodians eat their meals with at least three or four separate dishes. Each individual dish will usually be one of either sweet, sour, salty or bitter. Chili is usually left up to the individual to add themselves. In this way Cambodians ensure that they get a bit of every flavor to satisfy their palates.
Regional Cambodian cuisine offers some unique dishes influenced by the traditions of local ethnic groups. In Kampot and Kep, known for its Kampot Pepper Crab or Kdam Chha Mrich Kchei (Khmer: ក្តាមឆាម្រេចខ្ជី) in Khmer. This dish is prepared with a local crab fried with the black pepper from area pepper fields. Kula people, an ethnic group of Pailin Province, originated Mee Kola (Khmer: មីកុឡា), a vegetarian rice stick noodle dish. In southeastern Cambodia, the influence of Vietnamese cuisine are strong, evidenced by Bánh tráng which is ubiquitous in southeastern Cambodia but virtually unknown elsewhere. The region between Siem Reap and Kampong Thom, an area with many Chinese Cambodians, displays Khmer versions of many Chinese dishes.
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