There is a lot to be said about Cambodian cuisine, and most of it is delicious even to visitors to the area! Among the more ‘conventional’ dishes, such as chicken and fish, there are also local delicacies which many people find a little too ‘exotic’. Here, we introduce 5 of the craziest foods in Cambodia that we came across during our stay in Siem Reap…

1. Grasshoppers

These make for a very tasty, very crunchy snack or as a part of a main meal with meat or rice. Battered and deep fried, or even barbecued, grasshoppers are a very popular treat in Cambodia, as well as other part of the world. Because these little critters mostly taste of the oil they were cooked in, it’s important to have them done properly. In our case, they were cooked in garlic and herb oil… Delicious!

Grasshoppers in a restaurant in Siem Reap

2. Spiders

Tarantulas meant for snacking on are called ‘A-Ping’ in Cambodia, and are much more tasty than you might think. They are also full of protein, so are a brilliant and healthy way to snack or even to enjoy at breakfast time. When ordering A-Ping, it is important to ask for them to be made as crispy as possible; not everybody likes the warm liquid centre, which is made up of pus and intestinal juice… Definitely not to everyone’s tastes, I think you will agree!

3. Frogs

Frogs legs are a delicacy in many countries, but in Cambodia the entire frog is eaten and not just his legs! The most commonly used frogs for eating can be found in rice fields. They are easier to catch at night, as they freeze when a light is shining in their eyes. A popular way of eating frogs in Cambodia, is by stuffing their bellies with pork and other ingredients, they are then grilled or some people prefer to fry them. The ones we tried were grilled on skewers, and they are much more delicious than you might think!

4. Baby crocodile

We saw baby crocodile too, which was strange experience – the teeth doing the biting and chewing usually belong to the crocodile, not the person. We were told that these were not endangered, but we decided not to try anyway.

Siem Reap market - Baby Crocodiles

5. Half-hatched duck eggs

17 day old eggs are boiled, with partially formed chick still inside. What you end up with is a kind of soup that smells pretty much as you would expect it to. Here in Cambodia, this dish is as common as hotdogs or beef burgers but I never got to try. In fact, nobody except Dara was brave enough!

The outdoor butcher shop!

Meat is displayed here without any refrigeration, something that would never be seen in the west but is very common here in Cambodia. We are looking for good meat, and Dara chooses the best for us. In Cambodia, it is not just the butcher shop which is different, but also the way people have a barbecue. Here, whole chickens (plucked and gutted, of course) are flattened between sticks and placed on the grill. To wash this down, some locals enjoy also snake wine – but don’t try to export it as the snakes being used are protected in other countries.

BBQ, Siem Reap
Snake Wine - Siem Reap Market

Time for dessert?

If our top 5 opened your eyes a little, allow us to ease them back again with a nice after meal dessert. Green bananas are sliced, making banana chips which are then dipped into chicken soup powder. These are eaten without any kind of sauce or water, which can dry out your mouth quite quickly! If you are the adventurous type when it comes to food, then Cambodia is definitely the place to come – you are guaranteed to see some wonderfully different foods and drinks!

Snack in Cambodia: Chicken powder with sliced green banana
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Phare, the Cambodian Circus

A highlight in Siem Reap! Buy tickets online directly on the Circus Phare website*.

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