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Aug 20, 2011 02:48 AM

Cambodian/Lao cookbooks?

I'm just wrapping up a trip to SE Asia, and the food's been fantastic. I'm already pretty familiar with Thai and Indonesian, but Lao and Cambodian were both new to me - I was particularly blown away by the meals I had in Luang Prabang. Does anyone have any recommendations of Cambodian and/or Lao cookbooks so I can have a go at making it myself? I wanted to buy the Spiders to Water Lillies book from Friends International in Phnom Penh, but it was too heavy for my suitcase, and Amazon lists it at $125 (plus shipping).

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  1. I have the Spiders to Water lilies book and use it more to look at than folllow - I am not sure why. Rick Stein has a book following his Far Eastern Odyssey and the Cambodia section in that is quite good. I will follow this thread with interest - I spent nine months working in Phnom Penh and loved the food!

    1. Add Burmese to that list - I was at a Burmese restaurant last night and had some great tea leaf salad that I'd love to replicate.

      1. The Elephant Walk cookbook (the writer has a very good Cambodian restaurant in Cambridge) for the complicated stuff and Ghillie Basan's Cambodian cookbook for the simple stuff.
        The one strictly Burmese book I have is "Under the Golden Pagoda" by Aung Aung Taik (which if qianning is reading this, does date from the early 90's - it seems to be fiendishly expensive now - good library systems should have it).
        There are some recipes from all of these cuisines in books by Charmaine Solomon and Jennifer Brennan as well as in "Hot Sour Salty Sweet" by Alford and Duguid.
        Have a look at this too:

        5 Replies
        1. re: buttertart

          re: BT, LOL, you knew I couldn't resist the "Cambodian/Lao" tag....and thanks for the clarification on "Under the Golden Pagoda"

          re: Emmmily, BT's reccommendations are excellent, also for Burmese you might also want to look into "The Food of Burma" from the Periplus series, and , "The Flavors of Burma" by Susan Chan, of the these I think "The Food of Burma" is probably the best place to begin, simply because it was written by a professional chef, and in my experience at least, the recipes are clearer and more well tested and it is pretty widely available.

          1. re: qianning

            I figured (similar strokes for similar folks), and couldn't remember what thread we embarked on this subject on. ;-)

            1. re: qianning

              This book on Burmese cooking was highly recommended by Time Out a couple of years ago:


              They also have a website:


              1. re: greedygirl

                Love the website! The book isn't on Amazon here.

                1. re: buttertart

                  We saw this book, I think Yoma (Burmese restaurant in Boston) has/had a copy on display.....for some reason, which completely escapes me at the moment, we, mr. qn being the real expert on Burmese food in our household, decided not to purchase....could be Yoma only has one display copy & none for sale or that we weren't in the mood to pay the UK shipping charges.....

                  Also, for Emmmily & others looking for advice on Cambodian & Lao food, there is a pretty strong following for Cambodian & Lao cooking/restaurants/grocieries on the Boston Board, galagatron, who has been a huge help to me in finding/sourcing ingredients for SEA cooking, in particular REALLY knows his stuff when it comes to these foods, and would be a great resource if you can figure out the wording to make a post on the Boston board relevant.

          2. I found Cambodian food to be much less appealing than Lao food when I was there. I haven't found any exciting Lao cookbooks yet, but haven't really been looking that hard!

            1. Thanks all for the ideas! I ate at Elephant Walk a few years ago, and 'Hot Sour Salty Sweet' is already high on my wishlist. I actually just made a Burmese chicken curry with tomato and lime (and young jackfruit, since we didn't have enough chicken) for dinner tonight. The recipe was from a book called Curry Cuisine - the 'Myanmar & Maritime SE Asia' section is by Sri Owen, better known for her Indonesian cookbooks. I can't speak for its authenticity, but it was really delicious, served with Thai sticky rice and a version of the cucumber salad I ate in Laos.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Emmmily

                I second both Elephant Walk (and the restaurant, with an offshoot in Waltham, if it's still there) and Hot Sour Salty Sweet, which is also great just to read (and drool).