Cambodia is a country full of surprises, from magnificent Angkor Wat to horrified Killing Fields and the insect foods in Cambodia. It serves unusual dishes to the Khmer people and foreign guests who might need a lot of courage to eat and evaluate the taste. The strongly-seasoned and deep-fried insects might taste good to somebody, and as you might know, it’s uneasy to find this kind of strange food elsewhere.
#1: The Deep-fried Tarantula – Exotic Cambodia insects food
Tarantula is a kind of spiders and a famous specialty in Cambodia (yet scared). This spider species mainly lives in Kampong province, which is more than 200km to the southeast of Siem Reap. Right in Kampong Cham, there exists the Skun Market specialized in the insect food. It’s obvious that not everybody dares eating tarantulas in Cambodia as they are afraid of the look as well as not sure about the flavor. To make it, Cambodians often put the live spiders onto the hot deep oil pan and stir them until they become crunchy. It should wait until the spiders get dried of oil, they sprinkle the dish with seasonings. The flavor of this deep-fried tarantula is similar to the fried crispy crab legs. Commonly dried with chili, snacks of tarantula offer the crunchy outside and the intestinal juice of the body. People can also serve this unusual Cambodian food with black pepper and lime sauce. The price of each spider is around 1 USD.
#2: The Skewered Scorpion – One of best Cambodian street food insects
The skewers of fried scorpions are said to contain protein and good for health. This is a favorite snack sold in tourist sites and along the streets in the Siem Reap center. Also, along the riverbanks in Phnom Penh, many street vendors sell the skewered scorpions that are very crunchy. However, its look might scare some foodies, and again, it needs the courage to discover the taste and swallow the food. It is a unique and unforgettable culinary experience in Cambodia. Often, a skewer has around 2-5 scorpions that are priced from 1 USD. Barbecued and skewered on a stick, the scorpions are full of protein to please foodies as long as they can keep up courage to try it.
#3: The Grilled Field Mice – Very local street food in Cambodia
The field mice being grilled on coal stoves is fragrant street food in Cambodia. It is enjoyed by the Khmer people who often eat the mice with the sauce made from tamarind, tomato, and mango. The mice caught from the rice fields are the great ingredients for simple grilling or mixed with some seasonings. In several eateries in the countryside, people even do not spice the mice but grill it directly on the fire. The grilled skin is smoky yet special to eat, and its smell is attractive even from afar upon grilling. During 5 days in Siem Reap, you can find out some insect dishes at the nearby.
#4: The Fried Crispy Cricket – Common insects in Cambodia for food
Just like tarantulas and scorpions, the look of the fried crickets is not attractive but quite scary to foodies, and not everybody dares to taste it. Often, the crickets are deep-fried with garlic and chili for the fragrance. The fat and greasy crickets are said to be remedial and good for those who are dealing with adiposity and aches. Filled with protein, the deep-fried crickets are appreciated by the World Health Organization who believes it can be a solution to global food poverty. The edible insects used to be the food for the poor, but now they are gaining the public attention for the new and strange culinary challenge.
#5: The Grilled Snakes – The weird Cambodian food
Snakes can be ingredients to cook with gruel and mung bean, by stir-frying or steaming with papayas, but the most popular way to cook the snake in Cambodia is to grill it. The snake of various sizes will be washed clean and then grill in a rustic way; this kind of food is also available in Vietnam. Some addresses in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh sell each grilled snake at 2 USD. The vendors also make different types of sauces to serve foodies. Furthermore, another version of the cooked snake is to just fry it, which is popular in the crowded tourist markets. At first sight, the skewers of snakes might frighten people but the smell and the crunchy skin will make you remember this. You can make it to the next level by trying the snake wine. This kind of beverage is often made by infusing a snake (or a scorpion) into a bottle of the home-brewed rice wine and medicinal herbs.
Following the trend to eat insect food in Cambodia, the new deep-fried insect takeaway joints are developing in Phnom Penh. The modern twist is believed to help popularize this kind of unusual food throughout the capital city. Together with the popular dishes of tarantula, scorpion, mice, cricket, and snake, the country also makes use of beetles, water bugs, silkworms, bees, caterpillars, ants, grasshoppers, termites, dragonflies, and even flies. The insects are filled with protein, vitamin, and amino acid which are good for people’s health. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), insects could be the major future for food security of the world.
The weird dishes in the Kingdom of Wonder might leave you licking your lips for more or gagging or even not daring to try. That is the exciting culinary adventure if your key focus is on the food of a country. During the street food tour in Cambodia, make sure you turn the spotlight on the insect dishes, take their pictures, and even eat to know the flavor. Not to mention the hygiene or quality values, the food of scorpions, crickets, etc., can appeal to many tourists who first see the insect food. Just go for a tour around the streets or markets in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, it is very easy to see the street carts that display large plates of Cambodian street food insects. Buy for yourself some dishes and challenge if you dare to eat. It is the culinary adventure that will be imprinted on the mind. Begin your trips to the Kingdom of Wonder soon!