Grilled Fish From the Tonlé Sap

street food spicy asian barbeque pla pao thai cuisine
Sometimes simpicity is best, and the salt grilled tilapia that you get at the markets around the Tonlé Sap lake in Cambodia is one of the fish dishes I've enjoyed the most. I spent a month touring the towns along the south bank of the lake and had this lemongrass stuffed whole fish wrapped in a banana leaf to go several times.

street food spicy asian barbeque pla pao thai cuisine


tonle sap cambodia asia travel lakeThe Tonlé Sap is the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia, and the 3 million Cambodians living around the lake depend on fish for 70 percent of their protein intake. The markets are full of fish. Fresh and dried, large and small. The snakehead fish and tilapia are the most common large fish in the lake and are used in many of the most famous recipes in Cambodia.The snakeheads are usually sold alive, wriggling around in bins. A woman will kill it and clean it for you right on the spot. This makes a lot of sense as the heat would spoil the fish quickly. You will see smoked and dried fish in the region for the same reason. Smoked fish is a standard in congee, salads and many other traditional dishes. Every evening around 5pm the hawkers will set up their grills and serve dozens of exotic foods from amok to intestines for the locals to take home. Restaurants are not the norm in the smaller towns, so many times I would buy food at these stalls and take it to my guest house to eat. Everyone seemed amused at the farang walking around with little bags of fish and curries. I bought some plates and cutlery to keep in my backpack. I recommend it to everyone travelling in this area.
Pursat cambodia asia travel marketPursat cambodia asia travel marketPursat cambodia asia travel market

Here is a video I took of the market in Pailin. You can see the bins of live fish for sale

 
I spent a couple of days in Krakor near a special village called Kompong  Luong. Kompong Luong is a true "floating village". The town is completely floating on water and moves around the Tonle Sap lake according to the seasons. It's between 2000 and 3000 people with shops, schools, hospital, pagodas, and workshops with waterways dividing everything into neighbourhoods. You can tour around on a motorized canoe, and stay in one of the 2 guesthouses in the village.

kompong luong cambodia travel asia floating villagekompong luong cambodia travel asia floating villagekompong luong cambodia travel asia floating village
kompong luong cambodia travel asia floating village















During my tour, I ran into the "meat lady" selling her meats from door to door. She wouldn't stop laughing! To see more photos of  Kompong Luong check out my photo blog

kompong luong cambodia travel asia floating village
The Meat Boat
Besides eating grilled tilapia , I had fried frogs, smoked fish papaya salad, and stir fried clams. everything was delicious and it was fun trying to communicate with locals, as no one knows English. It was a relaxing few days and nice to hang out and do nothing but watch the boats motor past.

kompong luong cambodia travel asia floating village
Morning at the docks of Kompong Luong

street food spicy asian barbeque pla pao thai cuisine

Whole grilled salted fish is a great dish for the BBQ and not too difficult to prepare.Here's a recipe:

street food spicy asian barbeque pla pao thai cuisine

Serve with jasmine rice and lots of fresh Thai basil and mint

street food spicy asian barbeque pla pao thai cuisine

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