If I could only eat one thing for the rest of eternity, it might as well be crack peanuts.
Let me rewind for second. When I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia, we toured the temples with a beautifully spirited woman named Kinal Min. If you ever have a chance to take a tour in Siem Reap, I highly recommend her. After marveling over the ancient beauty we just experienced at Angkor Wat, the largest religious structure in the world, the four of us (Kinal, my two friends, and I) processed what we just saw over breakfast at a restaurant on the grounds.
Afterwards, Kinal started talking to some of the locals who worked at the restaurant and were in the process of making something in an extra-large wooden bowl. Sure enough, Kinal, with her sweet ways, snagged us handfuls of what was in the works in this bowl. Enter: crack peanuts. They were dubbed crack peanuts by myself largely because there was no alternative name we were given to describe them and they were ridiculously addictive.
Crack peanuts contain a few ingredients: kaffir lime, lemongrass, sugar, salt and chiles. That’s all! The sweet and salty combination lures you in then hooks you with the refreshing taste of the kaffir lime and lemongrass, and a pinch of heat from the chiles. I cannot wait to re-create these at home!
Another Khmer classic is Amok, Cambodia’s traditional curry. Its base is typically coconut cream and galangal (similar to ginger) and is steamed inside a banana leaf. I ordered mine with fish and was told there are two kinds of “river fish” to choose from: white fish and black fish. I went with white. The Amok with fish was surprisingly delightful – a really unique taste compared to the curry I had been eating in Thailand.
A popular vegetable in both Cambodia and Thailand that I’m fairly certain we ordered every single day during our trip is morning glory. From a taste perspective, morning glory (known as water spinach) is a cross between spinach and bok choy and typically flavored with garlic, oyster sauce and chili. I seriously miss this veg so much – not only for its taste but also its nutritional powerhouse – an excellent source of vitamin A and C and iron.
The food markets in Cambodia were quite an experience. Raw meat and seafood every which way you turned. I even gasped out loud at the sight of a pig’s head just chillin’ next to some produce. The smell was pretty rancid so I didn’t want to hang around too long but it was incredible to see and a sight I will never forget.
Up next…A day in Chaing Mai, Thailand: visiting a local market and cooking up traditional fare at an organic farm.