Fried spiders and Khmer delights

Market food InsideAsia Tours

I recently returned from a short trip to Cambodia and there’s a lot of good food. Fish Amok is delicious. Khmer red curry is another very tasty dish. Lots of spices, incredible seafood, fresh fruits. Cambodia has good food covered and I like Cambodian food, quite a lot…. but it also has some unusual dishes. Here are a few of the most unusual dishes from Cambodia.

Fried tarantula
How about this for something you won't see on the 'Great British Bake Off'! The arachnid appetiser is a bit of a delicacy. The market town of Skoun is renowned for selling the eight-legged snack, but I had a go in Phnom Penh. There was no mistaking the dish as the huge, hairy spiders are served to you on a plate. I think that the reaction of my fellow diners says it all.

In all honesty, the spiders are pretty dry and the yellowish meat of the abdomen is quite chewy but tasteless really. I reassure myself that the tarantula are full of protein and wash it down with a healthy sip of beer – the best bit of the experience. Worth a try though.

Fried crickets
Keeping the insect theme going, I stopped in the ancient capital of Oudong. There were all sorts of interesting morsels on offer at the market and I was ’lucky’ enough to have a few fried crickets. A simple dish consisting of (comparatively to the UK) monster-size crickets which are fired. Start by pulling the back legs off (as they can be a bit spikey as they go down your throat. They don’t taste too dissimilar to tarantula really. Meh…worth a try, but I am not going to make it a regular snack, even if it is believed to be good for you.

Stir-fried red tree ants

This was not quite as obvious as tarantula or crickets. I ate the (not so) little ants mixed up with slices of beef, ginger, lemongrass, garlic and a bit of chilli. It was all rather nice and in fact I didn’t realise I was eating the insects until I spotted a rather big winged beast. I don’t know why the ants are added to the dish apart from a slight shock factor, but it was quite nice.
There are plenty of other ‘odd’ dishes which I didn’t try – Skinned whole frog, 'Pong tea Khon' or boiled duck foetus and many other protein-rich fried insects.

Like Vietnam and Laos too, the markets in Cambodia are buzzing with people and a vast amount of fresh produce, good food and plenty of vendors selling tasty snacks and dishes to add to your adventure. Contrary to what you may think having read this, there are plenty of delicious Cambodian culinary delights. It's not all spiders, crickets and ants...

You may also like