Ampil is Khmer name for tamarind, which is a kind of long life bushy tree that easily grow throughout the tropical areas. In Cambodia, people like to grow it in line as fence to mark the land boundary. Tamarind tree provides big shade because of its evergreen leaves, so it’s also growing in front of the house for shade, especially in the Buddhist pagoda and public school ground. Tamarind offer many benefits, the tree trunks is used as timber and especially the tamarind fruits are consumed as food both young, mature, and ripe. In Cambodia, young tamarind is popular as ingredient of sour taste for fish sour soup. Whenever it’s the seasonal of young tamarind fruit, people would choose it as first choice. The sour taste from young tamarind is going well with fish soup that it also help to reduce the smell of fish.
Young tamarind or green tamarind is very sour compare to the mature or ripe fruit. There is a kind of Khmer dip made of young tamarind, it’s called Ampil Bok, means pounded tamarind. Ampil bok is very popular to served with grilled fish or fried fish. The dip can be prepared using short time and very less expensive.
The ingredients needed are: young tamarind, garlic, red chilly, sugar and salt.
The preparation is also simple: after washed, cut or chop tamarind into thin slices; garlic remove the covers. Then we need a mortar to pound all the things. First put in garlic and chilly (can be 1 or 2, depend on your favorite of hot), pound it for moderate. Next put in tamarind, two tbsp sugar, 3/4 tbsp salt, then finely pounded. After all is adjusting the taste.
Most tourist sites for weekend get away around Phnom Penh such as Ampel Phnom (Kampong Speu), Phnom Oudong (Kandal), Kien Svay (Kandal), Tonle Bati (Takeo), Phnom Tamao (Takeo), Phnom Chiso (Takeo), and many others within Cambodia are selling Ampil Bok for serving with fresh grilled fishes, which is always the favorites of visitors.
For poor families in the Cambodian countryside, Ampil Bok is the main dish for lunch, eating with rice. The taste is sour sweet, chilly hot and also a little taste of bitter from tamarind seeds, Ampil Bok goes well with both cold rice and hot rice.
Water spinach (water convovulos) is a common and popular vegetable which can be either served raw or cooked. Stir fried water spinach and water spinach sour soup with Kroeung (Samlor Machu Kroeung) are the most popular dishes of Cambodian. Especially, water spinach is served together with other fresh vegetables for Num Banh Chok Samlor Khmer, Prohok Khtis, and Teuk Kroeung. But have you ever known that water spinach also can be make into pickle and serve with fried pork, fried chicken or dried fish.
Tomatoes are very healthy fruits and vegetables because it provides a good source of vitamin C. The delight taste of sour and sweet, has made tomatoes dishes popular and most of them are easy to prepare. Stuffed tomatoes is simple and consume short time in preparation. Even though, stuffed tomatoes is not a traditional food of Cambodian, it is very popular as family daily dish.
- 5 ripe tomatoes: cut them into two equal parts, take out the seeds and discard.
- 250 g ground meat (can be pork, beef, chicken, or fish sausage).
- 25 g dried shrimp: soak in water for 10mn then pound.
- 100 g vermicelli (optional): soak in water for about 20mn, then cut it into 1cm pieces.
- 3 cloves garlic, minced.
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3/4 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- Mix together the ground meat, dried shrimp, vermicelli, garlic, sugar, salt, fish sauce, and pepper. Make it a perfect mixture.
- Fill up the tomatoes with meat.
Stuffed tomatoes can be cooked as stuffed tomatoes soup, fried or steamed stuffed tomatoes. I like fried stuffed tomatoes, it’s very nice to serve with soy sauce and chilly.
Fried stuffed tomatoes
To fry stuffed tomatoes, first add 4 tbsp of cooking oil into the frying pan. After the oil is heat, arrange the stuffed tomatoes into the frying pan with the meat side up. Use the low heat and need to cover the frying pan, so that the inside of the tomatoes will finely cooked. After it’s cooked, turn down the meat side and fried it to a bit dried.
Num banh chok is very popular for Cambodian, in which it can be served with many kinds of soup such as Khmer curry, Namya soup, sour soup, and the most traditional soup is Samlor Praher Khmer (Khmer fish soup with the kroeung). Num banh chok samlor praher Khmer are selling throughout the country. We usually see the sellers carry with a yoke on their shoulders, walking around. Cambodian like to eat num banh chok as their breakfast also in the evening after work. Num banh chok samlor praher Khmer is also served in various celebration and national festival when there are guesses to invite or family members are together. If you would like to find out how samlor praher Khmer is cooked, read on the below.
Num Ansom Chek Ang is another popular Khmer snack made of banana. We usually find Num Ansom Chek Ang sellers pushing their cart along the road in Phnom Penh. It’s also have sold at various tourist sites of Cambodia. Num Ansom Chek Ang is the full name of the cake which means grilled banana sticky rice cake. However, we like to call it in short name as ‘ansom ang’.
What are the ingredients to make Num Ansom Chek Ang?
Egg is very common for cooking different dishes of Cambodian. Whenever people couldn’t think of what food to cook, they simply think of egg. Egg can be steamed, fried with vegetables such as onion, bitter gourd, tomatoes, or just it alone, or boil egg and serve with soy sauce. Egg is also used as substitution of other meat for most stir fried dishes. In the other hand, egg is low price, but always has a great taste with almost every dishes it comes with.
Fried egg with tomato and pork filling is probably a new dish, but provide a good flavor of sweet sour of tomato in the fried egg. You might want to try it once, as dishes with egg are easy to prepare and consume less time.
Bitter melon or bitter gourd is very popular in almost Asian cuisines. With the innovation of skillful housewives, bitter melon can be cooked into different favorite dishes. Bitter melon is a kind of common vegetable growing in Cambodia. It’s growing for fruits, but the young leaf is also edible. Cambodian eat raw bitter melon as other vegetables like cucumber, green tomato, eggplant, long bean with their special food Prohok. Besides, there are also dishes of stir fried and soup made of bitter melon. The young bitter melon leaf is very popular for Samlor Korko, a Khmer soup made of many kinds of vegetables.
Stuffed bitter melon soup is a common soup dish for Cambodian families. For countryside Cambodian, it’s considered special and has been chosen to be the ‘offering food’ for monks at the pagodas during Pchum Ben Day (Ancestor Day).