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Cambodian Cooking Class

One of the many wonderful things about travelling the world is discovering new dishes and cooking methods. The ultimate way to get to know a country’s culinary specialities is to take a cooking class, you will find these in almost every city or town you visit and they’re well worth spending a few dollars and a day or so of your time to take. In Battambang we took a half day Cambodian Cooking Class and learnt how to prepare two Cambodian dishes, fish amok and chicken with lemongrass and holy basil.

Cambodian Cooking Class. Khmer food.

This class was great for us as the children were welcome too, they cooked their own dishes right alongside the grown ups, learning new skills and discovering greater confidence in their own abilities.

We would highly recommend a  cooking class or course like this in Cambodia or any country for travelling families, it really was a great experience for the kids, and for us.

We also highly recommend Battambang as a destination within Cambodia, read more about our unforgettable one day tour of Battambang here.

The Cambodian Cooking Class in Battambang

Making Khmer curry paste. Cambodian Cooking Class in Battambang.
Smashing the curry paste to be used in both Cambodian dishes.

We took a half day Cambodian cooking class with Smokin’ Pot restaurant and Cookery School to try our hand at two traditional Khmer dishes.

Smokin’ Pot have a restaurant on Battambang’s low-key Pub St. ( nothing like Siem Reap’s version) and a rooftop cooking school at a separate location, not far away. This cooking class gets 5 star reviews on Tripadvisor if you’d like to read more. Unfortunately they don’t have their own website.

Coincidentally, the cooking school, Smokin’Pot on The Roof, was opposite our hotel in Battambang.

Smokin’ Pot were happy to accept children over 7 years of age onto the course.

The cooking class cost $10 per person and included a tour of the local market, a cook book each to take home, water and, of course, lunch.

The Cambodian Dishes We Prepared

Khmer cooking course in Battambang Cambodia
Chopping the ingredients for the curry paste.

Both dishes started with a curry paste of garlic, lemon grass, salt, sugar, galangal, turmeric, soaked dried chillies ( the kids omitted this) soy and fish sauces and kaffir lime leaves.

We did our fine chopping with a cleaver and wooden cutting board before smashing the ingredients to a paste with a stone pestle and mortar. All fingers remained intact.

Fish Amok

Making fish amok. Cambodian cookery
Spooning snake head, straw mushrooms and our coconut milk and curry paste mix into the banana “boats” before streaming. Making fish amok.

This traditional and unusual Khmer dish is steamed in a banana leaf “boat” until the coconut curry sets around the chunks of snake head fish and mushroom. Fish amok was one of our favourite dishes in Cambodia, it is mild and creamy with coconut and the snake head is a good eating fish. We first tried this at, (our favourite) Garden Village Guest House in Siem Reap, it was always good.

Chicken With Lemon Grass and Basil

Cambodian chicken with lemon grass and basil. Our version also used morning glory. Add fresh red chillies to taste.

We ate many variations on fried chicken with lemon grass and basil in Cambodia. We felt it worked best with the lemon grass roughly chopped, rather than ground into the curry paste as it was in the cookery class. ( Try this in Kampot at Dara market’s Dara Win BBQ). This is a dish I will most certainly be preparing back home in Australia, where lemon grass grows like weeds. The children enjoyed this in restaurants, ordered in its “no spicy” form.

The Cambodian Market Tour

Cambodian cookery class. Market tour Battambang
Buying fresh produce for our Cambodian dishes at Battambang Market. The cookery class also involved chicken and fish, those pictures will go in another post to protect the sensitive.

Markets in South East Asia are great, but not for those of a sensitive disposition. You will see things that maybe you’d rather not. If you don’t like gore, death, disembowelment and interesting smells, probably best that you don’t go.

I’m not going to put the more bizarre and gruesome photos in this post, Ill put them in this one  (click through) so you can choose what you can’t unsee. A huge variety of unusual ( to us) living things are used in Cambodian cooking.

All up, a great morning and a great lunch.  A special memory and  a top-notch educational experience that I’m sure will stay with the kids a long time. We’ll be looking out for more family cooking classes around the world, this sure beats Domestic Science!

snake cambodian food market battambang
What do they eat in Cambodia? A market in Cambodia in photos.
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Jones Family

Thursday 6th of April 2017

Thanks for your great blog! We have noted this down for our next visit to Cambodia. On our last visit my family and I took part in a private cooking class in Phnom Penh we learnt to cook Fish Amok alongside another few recipes. The chef, Veasna, uploads videos of his Khmer recipes to his website.


Wednesday 24th of August 2016

Ha, we were supposed to do our cooking lesson at The Smoking Pot but our teacher never showed up ;-(. In the end, my daughter, Emma, and I raced to catch another class at Nary's. It was a blast. We made Fish Amok as well. I wonder how close the recipes are to each other. If interested, I posted the recipe we used here:

Thanks for the post. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Tonic Nutrition

Thursday 21st of May 2015

This is so awesome. The thing that scares me is how do you find out about how to do these things and get them sorted out with the language barrier? I just imagine myself wandering aimlessly around then leaving again having missed everything.


Thursday 21st of May 2015

There is really no language barrier in Asia usually, everyone speaks English to a decent level. China is the only country where we've had problems, resorting to pointing to phrase book words.


Tuesday 31st of March 2015

Looks awesome ! I have a cooking-phobia, so I don't think I would be any good at this, but you guys all inherited Chef's genes I think!!