Some guide books say that Cambodia’s cuisine is nothing to write home about and a poorer cousin to Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. Now, that is completely untrue.
A thousand years ago the Khmer Kingdom, which centered on Angkor, ruled an empire that included most of south-east Asia. Hence, many of the Thai and other regional dishes have their roots in Khmer cooking from that time!
While there are similarities, Cambodian cuisine should be taken in its own right. Khmer recipes go back to the days before the introduction of the chilli, so are consequently much milder than most Asian food.
In recent years, the number of new cooking classes have sprung up in Cambodia and expect more to open their doors in coming years. Join a cooking class to learn preparing authentic and delicious Khmer dishes and to learn more about the ingredients from local experts.
Here we describe all available cookery classes in Cambodia. For addresses, telephone numbers and website links:
Cooking Class in Phnom Penh
Undoubtedly, the most popular class in Phnom Penh: market tour by tuktuk, hands-on action in this cooking school and traditional methods of food preparation, particularly the use of mortar and pestle to pound and grind herbs and spices to enhance their flavors and nutrition. You’ll make everything from scratch with the freshest ingredients.
Conveniently located just behind the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. The contact address is frizz restaurant on Street 240 in Phnom Penh, while the actual location of the cookery class is nearby on a breezy rooftop terrace.
The class runs every day, except Sunday. In the tourist season, it is strongly advised to book your course in advance, as demand is high and capacity is limited to 10 people.
Cost: flat rate of $20 for a full day and $12.50 for a half-day
A more upscale cookery class in Phnom Penh, limited to a maximum of four participants. For those that are really keen on learning Khmer cooking, two or three day courses can be organised which would include teaching about the different types of rice that can be purchased and cooked.
Cambodia Uncovered is not only about cooking classes, they specialize in individual tailor made tours in and around Phnom Penh. Not cheap though.
Cooking Class in Siem Reap
Le Tigre de Papier
The most popular cooking class in Siem Reap. Runs three different sessions of Beginner Khmer Cooking course each day. You can pick your favorite dishes (1 starter, 1 main dish, 1 dessert) from the menu. The class includes a 1 hour market tour and two hours preparation and eating your creations.
Khmer Food Lovers
Organized by the Paul Dubrule School, which provides hospitality training to underprivileged Cambodians. The cooking classes for foreigners can be done with or without a guided trip to the market. At the school you will be shown how to prepare these delicious dishes. The School is vegetarian and vegan-friendly and runs in the morning only.
The River Garden
They call it the Cooks ‘n Tuk Tuks Tour, which basically means you are going to the market by tuktuk, which most cookery classes offer. The tour of the local market includes an introduction to local culinary culture, foods and ingredients, and cooking equipment, followed by a cooking class at the restaurant. This cooking class runs daily but in the morning only.
The Peace Cafe
Centrally located in the Wat Bo area, this vegetarian restaurant holds regularly scheduled veggie cooking classes. The class runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday only and is a quite condensed class, commencing at 11am and finishing two hours later. Yet, they offer four dishes (Fresh Spring Rolls, Papaya Salad, Amok, Black Rice with Mango), so it’s probably not all from scratch.
Beyond Unique Escapes
This one is different from most other cooking courses. Instead of going to the market, this course commences with a visit to a local family. Along the way you will learn about the herbs and vegetables grown at most Khmer households and used in daily cooking. The visit is an opportunity to learn about food preparation in a Khmer home. Your guide will also let you know about food customs, superstitions and beliefs. Afterwards, you’ll return to the pavilion to start cooking yourself. This class runs in the afternoon only.
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