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wax gourd in khmer cuisine

Wax gourd, known as “kak” in Khmer, is an important part of traditional Cambodian cuisine. Its delicate flesh and slightly sweet flavor make it a versatile ingredient, used in many Khmer dishes.
One of the most popular preparations featuring wax gourd is “samla kak”, an aromatic and comforting soup. In this soup, wax gourd is cut into chunks and simmered in a fragrant broth, usually made with lemongrass, galangal, shrimp paste and kaffir lime leaves. Khmers enjoy the tender texture of wax gourd which melts in the mouth and adds a slight sweetness to the soup.
Wax gourd is also used in Khmer stir-fries, such as “cha krei”, where it is often paired with crunchy vegetables such as green beans, carrots and mushrooms. Wax gourd slices add an interesting texture and mild flavor to stir-fry dishes, creating a delicious balance with the other ingredients and spices typical of Khmer cuisine, such as turmeric, ginger and fish sauce.
Another common preparation is “amok kak”, an iconic Cambodian dish. In this recipe, wax gourd is mixed with an aromatic spice paste, coconut milk, and fish (usually catfish). The mixture is then steamed in banana leaves, which gives the dish a delicate and fragrant flavor.
In addition to these main dishes, wax gourd can also be used in curries, stews, and even Khmer desserts. Its sweet and tender flesh lends itself perfectly to sweet preparations, especially in desserts made with coconut milk and palm sugar.
In short, wax gourd occupies a prominent place in Khmer cuisine thanks to its pleasant texture and delicate flavor. Whether in soups, stir-fries or steamed dishes, it adds a touch of sweetness and consistency to traditional Khmer preparations. If you have the opportunity to taste Cambodian cuisine, be sure to discover the wonderful flavors of wax gourd in these typical dishes.


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