Being adventurous eaters, we discovered a culinary paradise in Vietnam, Laos
To find the best place to get local street food when exploring a destination, follow the locals. To avoid getting sick, head to the popular stalls with the fastest turnover of dishes and check that food hasn’t been kept lying around in the heat for too long.
Cambodian dishes tend to be less spicy than those of its neighbors, mainly
Freshwater fish is a staple in Cambodia, and fish amok – often referred to as Cambodia’s signature dish – is unlike any version of the dish you might have eaten in other countries. The slightly-sweet fish curry, steamed in banana leaf, is flavored with creamy coconut, lemongrass and lime leaves resulting in a delicate yet tasty concoction.
Prahok is Cambodia’s take on fermented fish paste and is often used to flavor soups and sauces. The strong-smelling paste is very much an acquired taste but, surprisingly, we enjoyed the kick it delivered to some of the local dishes.
Several very affordable rice, noodle, and stir-fried dishes are widely available throughout the country and will probably serve as the basis for several budget meals, many of which cost around
Much of the food in Cambodia’s tourist areas
Insects are commonly eaten as snacks throughout Cambodia, and while they have also become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with some vendors even charging travelers a small fee for taking photos of the deep-fried bugs on sale, they also turn up in some restaurant dishes, such as stir-fried beef with red tree ants.
Freshness, simplicity and a blend of all the right herbs are the benchmarks of Vietnamese cooking. Perhaps the best-known Vietnamese dish is pho, a light rice noodle soup, flavored with fresh herbs, topped with bean sprouts and meat. Our favorites were dished up in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
Another staple is goi
Coconut milk features widely in Vietnamese
Vietnamese families typically eat dinner together with a variety of communal dishes being served alongside a large bowl of rice. Late dining has become more common in larger cities, with some roadside vendors selling snacks until the early hours of the morning. You can find a bowl of steaming pho at any time of day.
Lao cooking is similar to that found in the northern parts of Thailand and is characterized by sticky rice, fresh vegetables
Our favorite dish from Laos is
While rice is a staple all throughout Asia,
Learning to cook local food is one of the best ways to take something home with you. Not only will you learn how to make the tastiest recipes, but the best classes will also teach you about the history of local food and its context in the local culture.
Our cooking class in Laos, organized by a local restaurant, included a market tour where we learned all about the herbs and ingredients used in traditional Lao cooking, such as lemongrass, followed by a class led by one of the restaurant staff.
The influence of French food (Vietnam, Cambodia
French bread is also used for banh mi, one of Vietnam’s most popular streets foods, stuffed with pâté, pork, and pickled vegetables.
Cafes serving coffee and pastries are ubiquitous in the cities across all three countries.
Everything you need to know about border crossings, visas, transport, and changing money before traveling between Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Emily Polar has made a living by sitting out raging storms to get that perfect, majestic shot. She shares her tool box of knowledge on how to photograph in mountain terrain.