3 Most Popular Cambodian Vegetarian Dishes

Located in Southeast Asia that borders Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, Cambodia is a country that boasts rich culture and history. It has a surface of over 181,000 km², a coastline of roughly 441 km at the Gulf of Thailand. This typically small country is divided into 24 provinces and the urban area Phnom Penh.

If you are a vegetarian that is visiting the country, you should try some of their delicious vegetarian dishes. Check out some of them below. 

Cambodian Vegetarian Recipes

A delicious recipe doesn’t need to have extra time to prepare. Some can be prepared in just a few more minutes. Here are some Cambodian vegetarian dishes that you can try on your own.

Cambodian Vegetable Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce

Known as the Buddha curry, this Cambodian vegetarian staple has textures and the flavors of the dish are so comforting and calming. It will make you actually feel at peace after eating it. 


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This hearty and delicious dish has a little Thai cuisine influence. This is one way of Cambodia offering some good treats to vegetarian tourists. If you can’t go there yet, try to cook this at the comforts of your home. 

Here are the ingredients that you need for this Cambodian vegetable stir fry: 

For Stir-Fry: 

  • 1 tsp Peanut oil or sesame oil or canola oil
  • 1 cup of Broccoli’s florets
  • 10-12 pcs of green beans (sliced diagonally)
  • 1 pack or 450g of Tofu (drained and cut into small cubes)
  • 1 large onion (cut into half and thinly sliced)
  • 10 Baby Corn (cut into quarters)
  • 1 cup Baby bok choy (washed and chopped)
  • 3 tbsp. Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. of sugar

For Peanut Sauce:

  • 1 tsp Peanut oil or sesame oil or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
  • Dry red chillies (de-seeded)
  • 2 big Garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 2/3 cup or 150 ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of sugar

Procedures: 

  1. Prepare the peanut sauce first.

    Dry roast the peanuts and de-seeded dry red chillies together on a low heat till peanuts have that golden color. Set aside and let it cool. You can set aside 1 tbsp of roasted peanuts for the toppings later.

  2. In a blender, grind the rest of the roasted peanuts, red chillies and garlic, together with 1/4 cup water and turn it into coarse paste.

  3. In a pan, heat 1 tsp of oil and add the peanut mixture. Cook over low flame for 1-2 minutes until the water evaporates and it thickens. 

  4. Add coconut milk, soy sauce and sugar and cook further for 3-4 minutes until it becomes thick. Remove from the heat and set aside. 

  5. In a pan, heat 1 1 tsp of oil and sauté tofu cubes until they turn slightly brown.

    Remove the cooked tofu and put them in a paper towel to drain the excess oil. If you want to crisp the tofu, bake it in the oven at 400°F for 8-10 minutes.

  6. Add 1 tsp oil more to the pan and sauté onions and beans for 2 minutes until slightly tender. Add baby corn and bok choy, then sauté for 2 more minutes. 

  7. Add broccoli, browned tofu. soy sauce and sugar to the stir fry. Cover and let it cook for another 2 minutes.

  8. Warm up the peanut sauce and pour over the Cambodian vegetable stir fry. Mix well and serve.


Khmer-Style Cambodian Yellow Curry

Rich, satisfying, punchy curry, the Khmer Cuisine Cambodian Yellow Curry is surely a treat to feast on on a cold winter’s night. This vegan recipe is very easy to prepare. 

Prepare these ingredients: 

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
  • 120g green beans, trimmed
  • 120g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 180g cauliflower florets

For the paste:

  • fresh turmeric root about 5-6cm (or 1 scant tsp powdered)
  • ½ tsp paprika powder
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • fresh ginger
  • fresh galangal
  • 4 red chillies
  • 1 small-med red onion
  • 2 lemongrass stems
  • 10 kaffir leaves, fresh or frozen
  • 500ml vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2-3 tbsp of vegan fish sauce (or substitute light soy)
  • 1 tbsp of brown sugar
  • ½ cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)
  • Drizzle of chilli oil or red chilies (optional)

Procedures:

  1. Bring water to boil and put the cubed potato for about 6 to 7 minutes or until they soften. Blanch the cauliflower florets for a minute or two. Set the vegetables aside.
  2. In a blender or food processor, put all the spice paste ingredients and blend them until it forms a paste.
  3. In a large pan, put some vegetable oil and gently fry the curry paste. Pour in the vegetable stock or water and add vegan fish sauce or soy (if using) and brown sugar. Bring to boil prior to adding the squash. Simmer for 7-8 minutes.
  4. Add the cauliflower, potatoes and green beans and simmer for another 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and season with salt to taste. Bring back to boil and simmer gently for a few more minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and serve with freshly steamed jasmine rice. If you are using chilli oil, drizzle it over the top and garnish some chopped peanuts on the side.

Gluten-Free Cambodian Vegetable Stir-Fry

If you want some gluten-free Cambodian vegetable stir fry without the peanut sauce, check out this recipe.

For this menu, it uses the following ingredients: 

  • 1/2 a packet brown rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil
  • 2 drops of sesame oil
  • 4 green onions, ends removed and cut into small chunks
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 4 baby corns, cut into strips
  • 1/2 bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1/2 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
  • A handful of snow peas, cut into strips
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into long strips
  • 1 chili, chopped
  • Sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)

For the Cambodian Sauce, you will need:

  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup of fresh pineapple purée
  • 2 tablespoons of tamari
  • A pinch of salt

Procedures: 

  1. According to the package direction, cook the rice vermicelli noodles and prepare all the vegetables. 
  2. Heat grapeseed oil and sesame oil in wok, then add green onions and cook for a few minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant or slightly brown.
  3. Meanwhile, make the sauce by puréeing the small pineapple (about ½ small and skin removed) in a blender. In a small bowl, mix all sauce ingredients together and set aside.
  4. Once the desired consistency of vegetables are cooked, add sauce and cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Mix them together with the cooked vermicelli noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using) and serve.

Other Cambodian Vegetarian Cuisine

There are a lot of vegetarian dishes that Cambodia could offer. You can have their Cambodian vegetable congee, which is made with kroeung, a Cambodian spice paste. There are also exotic fruits that might get well together with their food traditions.

If you don’t want recipes that have salty seasonings, look for an original that has a typical sweet flavor. There are vegan recipes that might cater your palate. Make sure to check them out or try to see a recipe for an original dish if you visit Cambodia one day.