I have often heard that Khmer food isn't a whole lot to write home about, and I admit, I kind of felt the same way, until I learned about its exotic, fragrant combination of ingredients.
So, on a day off (there are many many holidays in November), a friend and I signed up for a Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet recommended half-day cooking class at Frizz. (Full-day classes are also available.)
The morning started off with a trip to Psar Kandal, a local wet market near the riverside. Going to a wet market is an experience, and one of my favourite things to do in South East Asia. As you walk through the narrow lanes, you are assaulted with smells and overwhelmed with the colours of fruits, vegetables and spices as you can see in the photos below.
Ready made snacks of fish, vegetables, and eggs
Squid on ice
Spring beans and noodles
Dried fish and dried meat
Kampot pepper, a Cambodian specialty
Morning glory, squash and cucumber
Rice, the staple
How coconut shavings are made
Chicken egg, duck egg, half fertilized egg. Salty eggs are the black ones in the corner, which are covered in charcoal to preserve.
Betelnut. Many older Khmer women chew on them for their stimulant effect, leaving their entire mouths stained red.
Going to the market gave me a deeper appreciation for the ingredients that go into making Khmer meals. A psar, or market selling fruit, vegetables and meat are at their busiest in the mornings, about an hour or two after dawn. Bargaining rules also apply here.