Cambodia is an agriculture country with tropical climate of dry and wet. Many tropical plants are growing well with Cambodia soil and climate. Fruits and vegetables are abundant in the country. Below listed are Khmer vegetables which are growing in Cambodia with their Khmer names.
1. Slerk Bas (Bas leaf) – (ស្លឹកបាស)
This is a kind of Khmer vegetable which I couldn’t find its English name. It’s growing as vines, leaves are light green when young and become dark green when old. It has while color flowers and bearing fruits look like cucumber, but just as big as finger, the fruit is red when ripe. Slerk Bas can grow from its ripe fruit, also can grow from its mature vines, it’s very easy to grow. However, the plant is growing for its young leaves only. Cambodia people like to have Slerk Bas as vegetable for their soup such as Samlor Korko, Samlor Proher, or just normal soup with fish. My mom like to cook Slerk Bas with sweet potatos and minced pork. It created a natural sweet soup.
2. Slerk Ngob (Sweet vegetable) – (ស្លឹកងុប)
This is also a kind of vegetable for Khmer soup of Samlor Tum Pang (bamboo shoot shoot), or we can cook it with Tofu and minced pork. Or can cook it with fish with some other kinds of vegetables like Slerk Bas and Malabar spinach (ស្លឹកជន្លង់). Slerk Ngob is a kind of shrub growing to about 2m high. The young leaves are light green color and it’s used as vegetable. The old leaves are dark green, people pounded the old leaves to get its green water from the leaves to make natural green color for various cakes. Its bear small round fruits look like shirt button. Slerk Ngob is very easy to grow, especially near by water source, just cut down an old branch and insert to the grow, then it will grow out new leaves after one week.
3. Ptih (Edible Amaranth) – (ផ្ទី)
Ptih is also used in Samlor Korko and Samlor Tum Pang with many other vegetables. However, it can be cooked alone with fish and minced pork too. There are many kinds of Ptih with green, purple and red leaves. It’s a short term vegetables growing by seeds.
4. Kro Saing Teab (Crab Claw herb) – (ក្រសាំងទាប)
Kro Saing Teab is a kind of vegetable growing in about 25cm high. It has small green leaves which is shaped similar to the crab claw or heart. The edible part is the whole stem and leaves, it taste a bit hot like chili. So some people cannot eat. Kro Saing Teab is pick up before the plant get flowering, while the leaves are fresh green and big, the stem is still soft. After the plant flowering, the leaves turn into abit yellow and become smaller. At this stage, it’s not nice to eat, because the stem is too hard. Kro Saing Teab is prepared as salad mix with tomato and onion. Kro Saing Teab stir fried with beef is the popular dish of this vegetable.
5. Slerk Chun Lung (Malabar spinach) – (ស្លឹកជន្លង់)
This is another kind of green leafly vegetables growing in vines. We eat its leaves in cooking with Slerk Ngob, Slerk Bas, and Ptih with fish or pork. These several kinds of vegetables can make a perfect mixture, try it if you like vegetables. Slerk Chun Lung have two species with green leaves and purple leaves.
6. Kanh Chhaet (Water Mimosa) – (កញ្ឆែក)
It’s a kind of floating plant growing on the water surface. The scientific name is Neptunia oleracea Lour. The stem are cover by white layer, the root is violet growing at each stem connection. Leaves are small shaped like bird feather. The flower is yellow. In Cambodia, water mimosa is either cook in soup with prohok and water spinach, and also eaten raw as vegetable with Prohok Khtis and Teuk Kroeung. The edible parts are young leaves and young stem, the white layer cover the stem and root are removed.
7. Slerk Tro Jeak Kranh (Asiatic Pennywort) – (ស្លឹកត្រចៀកក្រាញ់)
It’s a kind of green leafy creeping plant with scientific name as Centella Asiatica. Growing just about 15cm from the ground, it likes moisture and grow well under shades. The plant get the name of ‘Slerk Tro Jeak Cham’ is because of the shape of its leaves look like ‘ears’, which ‘Tro Jeak Cham’ means memorized-ear. Slerk Tro Jeak Cham is cooked in simple soup with sliced pork or minced pork or with fish flesh. Sometimes the soup is added the sweet potato which fix well with Slerk Tro Jeak Cham. The locals believe that Slerk Tro Jeak Cham has anti-oxidant properties, they said eating it to release the ‘hot’ inside their body and to refreshing. Especially the fresh juice of Slerk Tro Jeak Cham is very popular during summer days.
8. Trokuon (Water Spinach or Water Convolvulus) – (ត្រកួន)
Trokuon is among popular daily consuming vegetables for Cambodian. It’s growing naturally and also been grown in the ponds or lakes through out the country, and this species is called ‘Trokuon Srae’ means ‘wild water spinach’. The wild water spinach is used as vegetable for sour soup, especially Samlor Machu Kroeung Khmer, and also eaten raw as other fresh vegetables with Prohok Khtis or Teuk Kroeung. There is another species growing in the vegetables garden called ‘Trokuon Chen’ means ‘ Chinese water spinach’. This species is growing in row on the ground, not in the water. The plant is growing straight up to about 40cm with smaller stems. It’s very popular for restaurants for their ‘Water spinach stir fry’ dish and it’s used as vegetables for soups.