Cambodia’s Most Adored Salad
Shared By: Precious Margarette
No Kidding! This salad rocks!
The Bok Lahong is simple to make, refreshing, very light in your tummy, it is packed with nutrients, and available throughout the year!
In Cambodia, the supply of Papaya fruit is not a problem. Literally speaking, they are almost everywhere! From a local diner, up to an upscale restaurant, even on the street-corner kiosks of Phnom Penh, this Bok Lahong has been always ready to feed our hungry stomach. No wonder that it is Cambodia’s most adored salad!
Okay, since we are on the topic of Delicious Tropical Salad in Cambodia, then let’s cover other notable salad worthy to be mentioned in this article.
If you like to eat Fresh Salad like me, then make sure to try some of these special dishes when in Cambodia. Especially if they are available or in season.
Other Salads that you need to Try when in Cambodia:
1. Green Mango Salad with dried fish
2. Pomelo Salad with herbs and dried fish
3. Banana Flower Salad with slice of meat and herbs
4. Laap Beef
5. Spring Rolls
Please take a note that these salads share the same qualities of the Bok Lahong. However, some of the dishes I mentioned are seasonal, while others are quite meaty and heavy in taste.
When I was in Phnom Penh attending for a seminar, I saw an opportunity in my Hotel at Balconitel to learn some of the famous Khmer Dishes I like, and one of it is the Papaya Salad.
I am off the next day, so I have decided to book for a one-on-one session with the Chef. The receptionists who handled my reservation were so helpful, they prepared my schedule, and they have also given me some advice of what to wear on my Wet Market Tour.
On the day of my cooking class, I met Mr. Boran at the lobby, he is the Head Chef of the hotel.
He gave me some introductory briefings, and after that, he asked me If I am ready to go, then he handed me a bottled water to carry along the tour.
Off we went to the wet market, and while riding the Remorque, my session begins.
Oh, by the way, I forget to mention that my cooking class fee includes:
1. the market tour with a remorque ride
2. bottled water
3. mini-cookbook souvenir
4. cooking class certificate
5. a two-course lunch meal.
That is very affordable and personalized service in my opinion
At the market, Chef Boran showed me all the different herbs and spices that he normally used in his Kitchen. He even introduced me to his favorite sellers. I felt special and appreciated, especially when they knew that I am attending his cooking class after the tour.
Next, we stopped by at a veggie corner and in here, I receive some pointers when it comes to choosing the right size, and smell of a young Papaya Fruit.
Chef Boran knew that I am allergic to Crabs, that’s why we only bought baby shrimps and fish cake for the Lahong (or the Sauce).
If you like to make your own Bok Lahong or Papaya Salad, here are the basic ingredients to follow good for at least 2 to 3 servings;
For the Salad:
- 1 green papaya, peeled, seeded and grated into strips size
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated into strips size
- 2 strings of long bean (cut into an inch length)
- 2 tbsp. roasted peanuts (if you’re allergic, then do not include)
- 2 cherry tomatoes (you can use regular tomato as substitute)
- 1 tbsp. of dried shrimps
- 3 tsp. palm sugar (use brown sugar as a substitute)
- 4 tsp. fish sauce
- 2 limes (cut into halves)
For the Lahong (sauce):
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 4 pcs. lime
- 1 tsp. shrimp paste (this makes the salad special)
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce
These are all optional for the Lahong:
– 2 – 3 Red Chilis – cut into slices (including seeds)
– 2 pieces of Fresh Baby Crabs – Again, if you want to taste your salad authentic, then add this
Cooking & Preparing Directions:
- Place grated green papaya in a large bowl of warm water for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Using a Mortar and Pestle, add all Lahong ingredients and beat it until well crushed.
- Add the papaya, carrots and string bean, then pound it again to mix with sauce.
- Once done, place all mixture in a salad bowl and add dried shrimps and roasted peanuts.
- Mix it again for a few minutes to completely dissolve the brown sugar, and to combine all the flavors.
- Now, it is ready for Serving!
Bok Lang Salad is good to be eaten with a BBQ Chicken or Beef Skewer, and a bowl of steamed rice.
If you wanted to impress your family and friends, then served it on banana plate, and garnish with some sliced chilis and lime on the side to make it more appetizing.
This salad is very easy to make, it is delicious and most of all, very affordable.
Also, it’s all about variations, and the substitute ingredients due to availability. Since majority of the ingredients I have mentioned came from a tropical country, the chances of getting some these in Europe and America are slim. Should they be available, it is either in a specialty store, or they are a bit expensive.
Chef Boran, knew that I have a passion for cooking. He understood and being realistic, he gave me valuable pointers so that I can recreate this salad back home in my own kitchen.
Another beautiful advice I have received from Chef Boran is about boiling my garnishes, especially seafood. I have to admit that it might alter the taste a bit, and it is not original, but it is safer for my family and friends who are not accustomed of eating raw and fresh ingredients.
Thanks for reading and I hope you liked it. Enjoy!
This article is written by our Guest Contributor exclusively for the Green G8 on the topic of Food and Travel in Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia.
Special Thanks to our Eco-Hotel Partner in Phnom Penh The Balconitel Boutique Hotel, especially to the Hotel Manager, Mr. Seng Ngoun and staff for allowing us to shoot and document this article.
About the Author
Precious Margarette is an everyday normal woman, working as a grade-school teacher and Mathematics tutor. Aside from cooking, she also loves baking pastries and art sketching on her free time. She is also on Boudoir photography, believing that her photo shoot will not only boost her confidence, but it will also serve as the perfect gift for herself, as a mémoire of her youth.