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soybeans in khmer cuisine

Soybeans feature prominently in Khmer cuisine, bringing both nutritional richness and a unique flavor to traditional Cambodian dishes. The different forms of soybeans are used versatilely in various Khmer dishes, adding delicious texture and a valuable source of vegetable protein.
One of the signature dishes showcasing soy is “Nhoam Svay Bechou”, a refreshing and colorful salad. Bean sprouts, fresh and crunchy, are mixed with aromatic herbs such as coriander, mint and lemongrass. Everything is enhanced with a vinaigrette made from lime juice, fish sauce and shrimp paste. This balanced dish is a Cambodian favorite for its crisp taste and light texture.
Tofu, derived from curdled soy milk, is also used in many Khmer dishes. The “Kari Sach Moan” is an example. This is a chicken curry made with cubed tofu, adding a creamy texture and absorbing the rich flavors of the spicy sauce. Tofu is often marinated in Khmer spice blends before being added to curries or stir-fries, giving it a distinct flavor and pleasant consistency.
“Samlor Machu Kroeung”, a sweet and sour soup, is another preparation that highlights soy. This delicious soup combines fresh vegetables, aromatic herbs, fish and tamarind to create a symphony of flavors. Fermented soybeans, called “Prahok” in Cambodia, are often used to intensify the taste of this soup. The Prahok adds a salty and umami note, giving extra depth to the flavors of the soup.
Finally, soybeans are also used in Khmer desserts. “Num Krok”, a Cambodian specialty similar to pancakes, is prepared with a batter made from rice flour and coconut milk, in which soybeans can be added to provide a slightly crunchy texture. These sweet little bites are often served with grated palm sugar, creating a deliciously sweet flavor combination.
In Khmer cuisine, soy is therefore used in multiple ways, adding texture, flavor and nutritional value to traditional dishes. Whether in salads, curries, soups or desserts, soy plays an essential role in Cambodian culinary art, contributing to the diversity and delicacy of this unique cuisine.


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