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Top 5 Must-Try Khmer Salad

January 13, 2024 - 668 views

When it comes to experiencing the rich and diverse culinary landscape of Cambodia, one cannot overlook the vibrant world of Khmer salads. The dish, known as "Nhoam" in Khmer, is celebrated for its refreshing flavors, colorful presentations, and healthy ingredients. Combining a perfect blend of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy tastes, Khmer salads offer a delightful feast for the senses.

As you embark on your Indochina travel adventure, here are the top five must-try Khmer salads you shouldn't miss during your visit.

Top 5 Must Try Khmer Salad

1. Gnoam Trayong Chek - Banana Blossom Salad

Let’s begin with Gnoam Trayong Chek also known as "Banana Flower Salad". It is a popular Khmer salad that highlights the delicate and crunchy blossoms of the banana tree, offering a unique and exotic flavor that is characteristic of Cambodian cuisine.

The salad, having the banana flower, lime or lemon juice, and fresh herbs, also offer various health benefits. They are known for their antioxidant properties, potential anti-inflammatory effects, and digestive benefits.

Banana flower: The young, tender inner part of the banana flower is used in Gnoam Trayong Chek. The flower needs to be cleaned and shredded before making this salad.
Lime or lemon juice: The sourness of lime or lemon juice adds tanginess to the salad and helps prevent the banana flower from oxidizing and turning brown.
Fish sauce: A staple ingredient in Cambodian cuisine, fish sauce adds a savory and umami flavor to the salad. You can adjust the amount according to your taste preferences. You can use soy sauce instead.
Roasted peanuts: Crushed or roughly chopped roasted peanuts are often sprinkled on top of the salad for added crunch and nuttiness.
Fresh herbs: Common herbs used in Gnoam Trayong Chek include cilantro and mint. They contribute freshness and a pleasant aroma to the dish.
Sugar: Some variations of the salad may include a small amount of sugar to balance the flavors and add a subtle sweetness.
Garlic, shallots, Kampot peppers, and chili peppers

Fresh herbs and peanuts are the zesty dressing that truly elevates the Banana Flower Salad to another level. The combination of lime juice and fish sauce creates a mouthwatering tanginess, balanced by the subtle sweetness of palm sugar. Meanwhile, the chili adds a gentle kick of spice, awakening your taste buds and leaving a delightful tingle on your tongue.

Gnoam Trayong Chek

Gnoam Trayong Chek

How to make Gnoam Trayong Chek?

  • Step 1: Prepare the banana flower - After you peel off the purple-red layers until you get the soft inner part, remove the tough stem of the flower. Shred the flower and soak it in water (with some drops of lemon juice) for 10 mins.
  • Step 2: Make the dressing - Create a combination of minced garlic, chopped shallot, chopped chili pepper, lemon juice, sugar, and fish sauce in a bowl. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Step 3: Combine the drained banana flower slices with the dressing, and ensure that the slices are evenly coated with the dressing. Let it marinate for about 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Step 4: Add the crushed roasted peanuts, fresh cilantro, and mint leaves to the salad. Toss again to combine all the ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning with fish sauce, pepper, or additional lime juice if needed.


2. Nhoam Krauch Thlong - Pomelo Salad with Prawns

The second candidate on our list is Nhoam Krauch Thlong. As one of Cambodia's must-try dishes, Nhoam Krauch Thlong promises a tantalizing experience that will transport you to the heart of Indochina's culinary wonders.

Pomelo: Pomelo is a citrus fruit with sweet and tangy flesh. Use fresh pomelo segments, remove any seeds and piths, and break them into bite-sized pieces.
Cooked prawns: Use peeled, deveined, and cooked prawns. You can either boil or steam them until they turn pink and are fully cooked. Make sure they are cooled before adding to the salad.
Lime juice: Lime juice provides a tangy flavor to the salad and helps balance the sweetness of the pomelo.
Fish sauce: Fish sauce adds a savory umami flavor to the dish.
Fresh herbs: Common herbs used in Nhoam Krauch Thlong include mint and cilantro. They add freshness and a fragrant aroma to the dish.
Sugar, shallots, roasted peanuts, chili peppers, peppers

This beautifully balanced salad is best enjoyed during warm and sunny days, making it an ideal dish to savor during the tropical summers of Cambodia. Whether you're dining by the beach or exploring the vibrant markets of the country, this refreshing salad is the perfect choice for hot days.

Nhoam Krauch Thlong

Nhoam Krauch Thlong

How to make Nhoam Krauch Thlong?

  • Step 1: Peel the pomelo and separate the flesh into bite-sized segments, removing the seeds and pith. Gently break the segments into smaller pieces.
  • Step 2: Add the peeled and deveined cooked prawns to the mixing bowl with the pomelo.
  • Step 3: Make the dressing - Mix the lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar, then stir well until the sugar is dissolved. Taste the dressing, adjust the flavors, and pour the dressing over the pomelo and prawns in the mixing bowl. Toss gently to ensure that the ingredients are evenly coated with the dressing.
  • Step 4: Add the mint leaves, cilantro leaves, thinly sliced shallots, and crushed roasted peanuts to the bowl. Toss everything together to combine. Season with some pepper according to your preference.


3. Nhoam Svay Kcha - Green Mango Salad

Another Khmer salad made from fruits is Nhoam Svay Kcha, also known as Green mango salad. It's also interesting to notice that this sour and spicy dish is similar to Somtum in Thailand. In Nhoam Svay Kcha, the green mango slices are combined with various other ingredients:

Green mango: Green, unripe mangoes are the star ingredient in this salad. They are firm and tart, providing a crisp texture and tangy flavor. Peel the mangoes and shred them into thin strips.
Lime juice: Lime juice adds a tangy and citrusy flavor to the salad. It helps to balance the tartness of the green mango.
Fish sauce: Fish sauce is a common ingredient in Cambodian cuisine and provides a savory umami flavor to the salad.
Fresh herbs: Common herbs used in Nhoam Svay Kcha include fresh mint leaves and cilantro. They add a fresh aroma and herbaceous flavor to the dish.
Smoked fish: In Nhoam Svay Kcha, small pieces of smoked fish are often added to the salad. The fish adds protein and a savory element to the dish.
Sugar, chili peppers, roasted peanuts, peppers, and shallots

The salad is typically served as a side dish or appetizer during meals, especially on days when its refreshing taste helps beat the tropical heat. The dish showcases the vibrant flavors and fresh ingredients that are characteristic of Khmer cuisine, offering a delightful and authentic taste of Cambodia's culinary heritage.

Nhoam Svay Kcha

Nhoam Svay Kcha

How to make Nhoam Svay Kcha?

  • Step 1: Create a combination of green mango, smoked fish, sliced shallots, chopped mint leaves, chopped cilantro leaves, and crushed roasted peanuts.
  • Step 2: Stir well the mixture of lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chopped chili peppers. Taste the dressing and adjust the flavors by adding more lime juice, fish sauce, or sugar as desired.
  • Step 3: Pour the dressing over the mango and fish mixture. Toss everything gently to ensure that the ingredients are evenly coated with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the salad sit for about 10 - 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.


4. Pleah Sach Ko - Khmer Beef Salad

Pleah Sach Ko, also known as Cambodian Beef Salad, is a bold and savory Khmer salad that features tender slices of raw beef and aromatic herbs, creating an enticing medley of flavors.


Beef: Sirloin or tenderloin are commonly used. The beef is typically sliced thinly to ensure it can be eaten raw.

As this recipe uses raw beef, it's important to ensure that you are using high-quality, fresh beef from a trusted source to minimize any risk of foodborne illness.

Lime juice: Lime juice is a key ingredient in the dressing, providing a tangy and citrusy flavor that enhances the salad.
Fish sauce: Fish sauce is a staple in Khmer cuisine and adds a savory and umami taste to the salad.
Fresh herbs: Pleah Sach Ko commonly includes fresh herbs such as mint leaves, cilantro, and Thai basil. These herbs provide vibrant flavors and refreshing aromas.
Vegetables: Thinly sliced vegetables like cucumber are often included for added crunch and freshness.
Sugar, garlic, shallots, peppers, chili peppers

These ingredients come together to create a harmonious fusion of flavors and textures, making Pleah Sach Ko a delectable treat for the taste buds.

Pleah Sach Ko is often served as a main course or as part of a shared meal during special occasions and celebrations such as weddings, family gatherings, or other festivals. It is a popular choice among locals and visitors alike, offering a delightful taste of Cambodia's culinary heritage.

Pleah Sach Ko

Pleah Sach Ko

How to make Pleah Sach Ko?

  • Step 1: Slice the beef thinly then blend them with lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, minced garlic, and chili peppers. Marinate the beef for about 30 minutes.
  • Step 2: Make the dressing by whisking together the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, minced garlic, chilies, and pepper. Then combine separately the sliced cucumber, chopped mint leaves, cilantro leaves, and Thai basil leaves in another bowl.
  • Step 3: Drain the marinated beef from any excess liquid and add it to the bowl with the vegetables and herbs. Toss everything together until well combined. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss again to ensure all the ingredients are coated with the dressing.


5. Phlea Trei - Khmer Raw Fish Salad

If you adore raw seafood, Phlea Trei, Khmer Raw Fish Salad, is what you definitely can go for. This Cambodian ceviche-style salad showcases the freshness of the catch and the richness of Cambodian herbs and spices.

Fish: Fresh and high-quality fish is the primary ingredient in Phlea Trei. The fish is thinly sliced and served raw.
Lime juice: Lime juice is a crucial element in the dressing, providing a tangy and citrusy flavor that helps to "cook" the raw fish through a process called denaturation.
Fish sauce: Fish sauce is a staple in Khmer cuisine and is used to add a savory and umami taste to the salad. It enhances the overall flavor profile of the dish.
Fresh herbs: Phlea Trei typically features an array of fresh herbs such as mint leaves, cilantro, and Thai basil. These herbs contribute freshness and fragrance to the dish.
Roasted peanuts: Roasted peanuts are often sprinkled on top of Phlea Trei to provide a nutty flavor and a pleasant crunch.
Sugar, garlic, chilies, and shallots

Phlea Trei is typically served as an appetizer or side dish during meals, and it is often accompanied by fresh vegetables and herbs for added freshness. As with many Khmer salads, Phlea Trei reflects the vibrant and diverse culinary heritage of Cambodia, making it a must-try dish for those seeking an authentic and adventurous gastronomic experience in the Kingdom of Wonder.

Phlea Trei

Phlea Trei

How to make Phlea Trei?

  • Step 1: Prepare the dressing by whisking together the lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar, minced garlic, and chopped chilies. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the fish slices, sliced red onion, sliced shallot, chopped mint leaves, cilantro leaves, and Thai basil leaves.
  • Step 2: Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and gently toss everything together until well-coated. Allow the salad to marinate in the dressing for about 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Step 3: Just before serving, add the crushed roasted peanuts over the salad for added crunch and flavor.


Recommended Places To Eat

Butterflies Garden Restaurant

Address: Chong Koa Sou Village, Slor Kram Commune, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Phone: +855 11 571 771

Opening hours: 11:00 - 22:00

Price range: From US $3

Khmer Village Restaurant

Address: House No.45 Group 3 Sras Srong Village, Siem Reap Cambodia

Phone: +855 12 390 583

Opening hours: 07:00 - 16:00

Price range: US $5 - 15

Mok Mony Restaurant

Address: 63c, Street 294, Sangkat Boeng Keng Kang, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phone: +855 93 696 799

Opening hours: 11:00 - 22:00

Price range: US $5 - 8


Embarking on a culinary journey through Cambodia wouldn't be complete without indulging in the delightful array of Khmer salads. From the exotic Gnoam Trayong Chek to the zesty Nhoam Svay Kcha, each salad offers a unique and memorable experience for your taste buds. 

To make the most of your trip and discover more hidden gems of Cambodia, don't hesitate to contact BestPrice Travel to immerse yourself in the vibrant flavors of Khmer cuisine!

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