Cambodia Cookbook-1…going tex mex


So it’s easy to get caught up the Door2Door guide in Phnom Penh (the definitive guide for delivery food), or the constant flow of dining out.  Khmer food is cheap and delicious (yummy sour soup for $1.75!).  And any other cuisine is in pretty easy reach, though prices can wind up adding up.

But what about some good ol’ home cooking?  It can get pretty annoying dealing with ridiculous prices or constant supply cuts at Lucky Supermarket.  And riding around the city to find specific ingredients can be pretty tedious, and dealing with only 2 gas burners (and no oven!) does ask for some creativity.  So it’s easy to wind up eating the same thing over and over again.

But it actually is remarkably easy to make some great healthy recipes at home here.  I’ve even seen friends makes some amazing dishes while living in the most rural of villages – with only a rice cooker in sight!  So starting with some good ol’ tex mex, I thought I’d start a new home-cooking series today!  With recipes, where you can find ingredients, and how much they should cost, I hope this can help out and inspire you master chefs out there. Happy cooking!

Photos of her Salsa Fresca and Chicken Tacos by Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen.  This recipe was so incredibly yummy – we devoured it before I could even take pictures!

Tex-Mex Chicken Wraps/Burritos with Salsa Fresca (serves about 5-7), adapted from Smitten Kitchen


For the Chicken…
Salt and Pepper (about 1/2 tsp of each)
2 pounds chicken thighs or chicken breasts
1 large white onion, peeled and quartered
5 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 ancho or other mild dried chili, optional

For the veggies…
1 tbsp of olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 clove of garlic – minced
1 red pepper and 1 green pepper – cut into strips
1 tsp of chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp of ground coriander

For the wraps…
Flour tortillas
Sour Cream

  1. For the Chicken – Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and add water to cover. Turn heat to high, bring to a boil, and skim any foam that comes to the surface. Partially cover and adjust heat so mixture simmers steadily. Cook until meat is very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from liquid and cool.
  2. Shred meat with fingers. Taste and adjust seasonings; use within a couple of days.
  3. For the Veggies…While the cooked chicken is cooling – heat the olive oil on medium heat in a pan and fry garlic for about 1 minute.  Add peppers, the rest of the spices and salt and pepper to taste.  And sautée peppers until tender – about 5-7 minutes.

Salsa Fresca (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes about 2 cups.

2 large fresh ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 large white onion, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon minced raw garlic, or to taste
1 habanero or jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper.

  1. Combine all ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  2. Let the flavors marry for 15 minutes or so before serving, but serve within a couple of hours.

Now Where Can I Find All This Stuff?

It’s easy peasy and quite affordable!  Imagine feeding 5 people for less than $10!  Crazy eh?

Chicken (about $2 per pound) and Sour Cream ($1.9 for about 200g) can be found at Lucky Supermarket.  And all those spices?  If you haven’t inherited a collection from any repatriating friends yet, you can get quite a collection from Pencil Supermarket (corner of Street 214 and Norodom Blvd) for affordable prices.  300g of ground cumin, ground coriander, chili powder and their other aromatic friends sell for about $1.30 each!

And for everything else – I would go to Russian Market/Psar Tuol Tom Puong for the sake of convenience.  Why? Because the yummy social enterprise, Café Yejj (#170, Street 450, Toul Tom Pong) sells great daily fresh-made flour tortillas! $1.50 for 5 and $2.50 for 10! (Compared to $5 at Lucky Market, this is a steal). And right after you grab your tortillas, you can head into the wet market to buy your veggies!  I bought my red pepper and green pepper for only 2500R (62 cents!), and all of the ingredients for the Salsa Fresca for 2000R (50 cents!).  You might have to skip out on the jalepeno pepper though (you might need to go to Psar Kandal or Psar Boeng Keng Kang to find those) – but there are plenty of other spicy capsica you can find in any wet market too!

So I hope this is helpful for any of you Phnom Penh readers!  Happy cooking! xoxo


2 thoughts on “Cambodia Cookbook-1…going tex mex

  1. fantastic post! enjoyed reading. hope you can make this for me when I visit one day! and I am a fan of Smitten Kitchen too!

  2. oh arju, thank you! totally wish i could make this for you, h and baby-j! next time I’m in DC – i promise! isn’t smitten kitchen awesome?

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