Best Cambodian Crack Sauces
When traveling to Cambodia, you may notice that locals prefer to add different types of sauces to their dishes. Cambodian crack sauce is one of the most common ones that impress foreigners. This article will introduce the best local dipping liquid and marination choices and list some national dishes that contain this ingredient. Scroll down for more details!
About Cambodian Crack Sauce
Cambodian crack sauce is a quintessential element in the culinary field. It highlights the contrasting taste, bringing more texture, flavor, tanginess, and sharpness to the main food. It's not difficult to see different types of sauce in local courses with various methods. Some for dressing, some for dipping, some for marinating, and some can be all of these cooking functions. Their general flavor is sweet, sour, and slightly spicy, with the base of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili. You can also find some condiments that have aromatic scents, attracting your taste buds to explore.
Best Cambodian Crack Sauces
1. Tuk Trey
The first Cambodian crack sauce on our list is Tuk Trey. It literally means fish water and is translated as fish sauce (which is also the name of the fermented fish sauce). This condiment is popular in Cambodia and the surrounding countries, yet it tastes slightly different.
Basically, Tuk Trey has quite a solid texture and sweet and sour flavor (plus some spicy if adding chilies). People make the dipping sauce based on fermented fish sauce and other common ingredients.
They put the lime juice, palm sugar, garlic, chilies, and water in the mortar and use a pestle to pound them until they become a paste structure. Then, fish sauce and roasted peanuts are added to complete the sauce.
Tuk Trey is served as a side condiment for protein-rich food such as crispy chicken or pork chops. The meat is usually toasted and 100% fit with the accompanied dipping sauce.
The next candidate we'd like to introduce is the fermented fish paste that locals prefer to add to their dishes to enhance the flavor. There are two types of Prahok: Prahok Ch'oeung and Prahok Sach. The first one uses riel fish (the same name as the country's currency), and the other uses larger fileted fish.
The condiment has a long history traced back to old times when local people considered Prahok the only source of protein, and they have preserved the fermenting technique until now. After the fileting and salting process, people put the ingredients in the baskets, let them dry, and then salt them again. The fish is then left to ferment in large jars or concrete vats.
According to locals, the longer it's kept, the more delicious it will be. The average time of fermentation is from several months to two years.
Prahok has a quite thick and chunky texture. Many people may feel it unappealing with its gray color and distinctive fishy smell, yet this fish condiment plays an important role in Khmer cuisine.
The paste has various usages. The most common is it's used as the dipping sauce for beef steak. Besides, it can act as the main source of the meal's protein, a seasoning to enhance the food flavor, or the main ingredient when fresh fish is unavailable for the soup.
3. Tuk Trey Ompearl Tum
Tuk Trey Ompearl Tum
Tuk Trey Ompearl Tum is another traditional Cambodian crack sauce that you should not miss when traveling to the country. Its ingredients include tamarind, fish extract, cane sugar, salt, oil, tapioca starch, garlic, shallots, and chilies.
The condiment is a perfect dipping sauce for Kmer wraps and spring rolls. Besides, it's served as a dressing for lettuce and grilled meat salad. The aromatic and rich flavor is in great harmony with the combination of meat and vegetables, making you crave it.
Besides, the tamarind sauce is a perfect addition to many recipes, such as the popular tamarind braised short ribs and tamarind clams. Either the succulent and tender braised ribs with the sauce and galangal roots or the claims sauteed in natural and rich condiments with roasted garlic will give you the best food journey ever.
4. Tuk Meric
When talking about a typical Cambodian crack sauce, it would be a mistake if we didn't mention Tuk Meric. It's a salty, tangy, peppery dipping sauce that appears in almost every meal of local people. The ingredients make a spice blend of sea salt, crushed pepper, palm sugar flower, and lime juice.
The condiment typically pairs with a stir-fry dish called Loc Lac. However, it's also perfect to come with seasoned and grilled chicken and seafood such as shrimp or fish.
Besides, locals use it in multiple other ways, such as a dressing to add an exotic touch to the salad, a dry barbeque condiment to rub the meat, or a liquid marinade.
5. Chrouk Metae
If you are looking for some Khmer dishes with a rich and spicy addition, go for those with Chrouk Metae. This authentic Cambodian chili paste is similar to sambal, yet the tangy flavor of the chili dominates other ingredients. The robust flavor and clean aftertaste make it an ideal choice for dishes requiring spicy condiments such as grilled, pan-fried meat or noodles.
The thing that makes Chrouk Metae different from other spicy siblings is it contains no oil. That's why the sauce has a delightful texture and deep red color, creating an appealing visual look, especially for those who prefer a tangy hot taste.
6. Tirk Khngay
The last but not least highlighted Cambodian crack sauce on our list is Tirk Khngay, the local ginger sauce. It goes wonderfully with grilled, fried, or steamed fish. If you are a fan of ginger and fish, you definitely should give it a try.
Tirk Khngay consists of sugar, hot water, fish sauce, minced garlic, lime juice, peeled and grated ginger, and seeded and chopped hot chili peppers. It's an easily created sauce as you just need to mix all the ingredients together, and here you go, an umami dipping mixture to enhance the taste of your dish.
Cambodian crack sauce plays an important role in the local cuisine, and they are not too exotic to try. You even may crave more of the dishes with these condiments.
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