One of the most rewarding ways of exploring another culture is through tasting their food; the different textures, flavours, uses of abundant or scarce ingredients, ingredients you have never heard of, and the way that herbs and spices you know are used in new and surprising ways to create new and surprising tastes. The different ingredients can tell you much about a country’s current economic status, geographical blessings and constraints, and even about its history. In Cambodia’s case, the plentiful use of fish speaks of the vast importance of the Tonle Sap to each Cambodian’s daily survival and the wide variety of dishes are a living history book of Cambodia’s past. Travel Indochina
One of the best things to do in Cambodia, especially in Siem Reap with children is to take a cooking class together.
When you arrive for the tour the English speaking tour guide will take you to the market to purchase all of the ingredients you will need to cook up your first Cambodian dishes, and then it is along to the kitchen, where under the guidance of a local chef you will be instructed how to cook up the most delicious of Khmer delicacies. Specialties include the tasting of Amok, a mixture of shrimp Mekong, Tonle Sap fish, coconut and vegetables produced locally. What makes this tour extra exciting is the fact that you will do the buying of all of your ingredients at the old market in Siem Reap. The Chef will accompany the group to make each participant acquainted with the herbs, seasonings and rice products for the best results. Budding chefs will have fun chopping the ingredients and learning how to cook the Khmer dishes. And of course the best part is you get to enjoy your delicious meal. Cambodia travel tours
A number of restaurants and hotels offer cooking classes in Siem Reap, from the more exclusive cooking lessons at five-star hotels such as Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor and Anantara Angkor Resort, which are outstanding but expensive, to the more accessible, affordable and fun Cooks in Tuk Tuks experience offered by the River Garden hotel. All are conducted by professional chefs and offer a pre-class trip to a market to introduce participants to Cambodian ingredients and produce before returning to the hotel to get stuck into prep, cook the dishes, and enjoy them over lunch. The Raffles class is the most interactive, the Anantara more demo-style, and Cooks in Tuk Tuks somewhere in between, combining both hands-on prep and cooking with presentations of different techniques. The Raffles and Anantara experiences are private, so if you are eager to meet fellow foodies you will prefer Cooks in Tuk Tuks.
Memories of those mouthwatering Cambodian flavors will stay with you long after you return home. These classes start with a nice touch: a visit to a local family. You will take a stroll through the village, learn about homegrown herbs and vegetables and discover more about cooking in a Khmer household. A gift of rice is provided to the family as thanks for their participation. Together with your local chef and guide, you will get a hands-on cooking experience with tips and recipe cards so you can reproduce the dishes at home. Mango salad, fresh spring rolls, Cambodian curry and tasty desserts are some of your menu choices.