So far the Street Food Guy has been a huge fan of Khmer cuisine, particularly the street food scene. And when it comes to weird foods Cambodia has to be the strangest place I have ever been. The Chinese famously eat almost everything, but the Cambodians literally eat everything.
And it is not hard to see where this comes from. Between 1975 and 1979 the brutal Pol Pot regime ruled the country known as Democratic Kampuchea, during this period they evacuated the population to the countryside. Whilst there the Cambodian people were reduced to minimal rations, famine and starvation. Now whilst there is not exactly any nostalgia for this period many of the foods born out of necessity have survived to this day.
This is the Khmer Rouge Street Food Guide
Snacks inspired by the Khmer Rouge
Borbor (rice porridge)
Rice porridge was hardly invented by the Cambodians and congee is eaten throughout China and the rest of Asia. Borbor though was basically the only food available during Khmer Rouge times. In those days it was much more watery, as in lacking in rice.
Amazingly the dish has survived the test of time and whilst people don’t want eat it to Khmer rouge levels it remains a comfort food.
Frogs are eaten throughout south-east Asia often as a delicacy, but in Cambodia they are eaten in every way shape, or form and are seemingly everywhere. The Cambodians did not inherit this from the French. The reason for their importance is that during the Khmer Rouge regime frogs, as plentiful beast were basically the only form of protein for the masses, although still illegal.
Nowadays you can eat deep-fried frogs (very crunchy) and more classic BBQ fried frog which are full of meat.
OK Cambodia did not invent the eating of bugs after all they are a weird delicacy from Beijing to Hanoi, but in Cambodia they are not a delicacy they are very much food. During Khmer Rouge times bugs were essential for the few who survived as being full of protein and easy to catch.
You will find insects in every street market in Cambodia. I have eaten grubs, fire-ants and stuff I have not even been brave enough to even ask what it was.
Tarantula in Cambodia
This is a weird one as this deep fried snack ha snow largely disappeared, apparently now banned. Cambodia has tarantula and during Khmer Rouge times these easy to catch animals were a nice easy quick cook.
Nowadays it is hard to find, but if you search hard enough you can still find it in Phnom Penh
Dog in Cambodia
One of the most controversial on the list and indeed far from invented by the Khmer Rouge. During the dark times though what constituted meat became much more liberal and following the fall of the regime dog became a thing.
Technically dog meat was recently banned in Cambodia, but it is still available particularly in the countryside. We do not advocate eating dog, before the death threats start coming.
And those are 5 delicacies with their main roots in the culinary scene of Democratic Kampuchea. Born through famine, but still popular.