Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat in Cambodia
the world's largest religious monument built in the 12th century
now a world heritage site
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Chaow Horn
Cambodian Fondue

Main dish - chaow horn - thumbnail

Chaow Horn or Yaow Horn(as known in some part of Cambodia) is one of my family’s favourite dishes because it is delicious and also fun to eat. It generates such a lively yet relaxing ambiance. With the sauce boiling in the middle of the table, we all cook our own favourite ingredients in little baskets. As everyone is involved, it is a very sociable meal as we joke, laugh and enjoy our drinks. It sometimes turns into a fishing contest as the kids fight over their prawn/meat pieces floating in the sauce.

tool - chaow horn electric pot 2

Chnaing Chaow Horn
Electric Fondue/Hot Pot

tool - Chaow Horn Baskets - thumbnail

 Kantrorng Chaow Horn
Serving Wire Baskets

 Did you know …

Apple cider vinegar is an old folk remedy for treating various ailments. If you suffer from night-time leg cramps like me, mix a tablespoon of cider vinegar with 1-2 teaspoons of honey and drink slowly before going to bed – repeat over several nights and you’ll be surprised by the results. Also, I often suffer from a stuffy nose (from hay fever) – a drink of a teaspoon of cider vinegar mixed in a cup of warm water really does help clear the nose and drain the sinuses. Cider vinegar, like lime and lemon juice, is an alkaline food which helps balance acidic food such as red meat, wheat and other cereals in our body.

According to a website that I stumbled upon, there are 28 health benefits of cider vinegar. Here is the link:                     


ingredient - num banh-chok - thumbnail

Num Banh-chok
Khmer Fresh Rice Noodles


ingredient - packet rice noodles - thumbnail

Num Banh-chok Kriam
Dried Rice Vermicelli/


1The sauce made following the ‘Step 1a’ can be prepared (in large quantity) beforehand and stored at room temperature for up to 6 months. It can also be used as a base ingredient to other dishes.

2Some instructions quote a shorter soaking time. Ignore that timing as it is only valid when softening the noodles for stir-frying purposes.

3Crack an egg and place it in the middle of the beef to help keep it moist.

 ingredient - peanuts in pods - thumbnail

Sandaek Dey
Peanuts / Monkey Nuts















Serves 4 - 6


Good quality beef i.e. sirloin 900g/2 lb
Fresh king/tiger prawns 300g/⅔ lb (for ease of use, buy frozen shell-less king prawns)
Fresh squids 300g/⅔ lb (for ease of use, buy frozen baby squids)

For the noodles:
Khmer fresh rice noodles 1 kg/2.2 lb (photo bottom left) – if not available use dried rice noodles 1 x 400g (14¼ oz) pack (photo bottom left)available at Asian grocery stores/some supermarket 
oil 2 Tbsp (use olive oil if preferred)
Spring onion (scallion)
3 – sliced thinly into rings (use green part only – use the white part as vegetables)
Roasted onions 1 cup - optional (available at most supermarkets and Asian grocery stores)

For the sauce:
Water 1⅔ litre/7 cup
Rice/Cider vinegar 600 ml/2½ cup
400g/2 cup

Fish sauce 360ml/1½ cup

Salt 2 tsp
Garlic 5 cloves – peeled and roughly chopped
Galangal 2.5cm/1 in. – peeled and finely chopped - available at Asian grocery stores (use ginger as an alternative)
Shallots 8 – peeled and roughly chopped
Dried cayenne/finger chillies 8 – deseeded, soaked and finely minced (use 2 Tbsp of paprika as an alternative)
Unsalted roasted peanuts 1 cup – brown skin removed and pounded to a fine paste (use 3 Tbsp of smooth peanut butter as an alternative)
Coconut cream1 x 400 ml (14 oz) can

For the vegetables:
Round lettuce 2 heads – separated and washed
Cucumber 2– washed and sliced crosswise
Beansprouts 1 x 200g/7¼ oz pack – washed, drained and patted dry
Aromatic herbs: mint, Thai basil, fish wort and Vietnamese coriander – washed – leaves separated from the stems (discard the stems)
Any of your favourite vegetables(watercress, spinach, Chinese leaves, bok choy, etc…)

You will need:
A steam-boat or an electric fondue (photo top left) and small wire baskets (photo left) with long handles (all available at Asian grocery stores) – or you can simply use a small saucepan and a portable burner


1. Preparing the sauce:
a – To prepare the vinegar mixture, place water, vinegar, fish sauce and sugar in a saucepan and boil until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside1.

b - In a pestle and mortar, add salt, garlic, shallots and chillies and pound to a paste (use food processor, if preferred). Then add the peanuts and continue pounding to mix well.

c - Place a wok over medium heat until hot. Add the coconut cream and bring to the boil. When the oil separates from the cream – about 2 minutes, add in the spice and peanut mixture. Use a wooden spoon to quickly break the mixture and mix well with the coconut cream. You may need to lower the heat to avoid burning. Stir continuously for about 2 minutes or until it becomes smooth.

d - Pour in the vinegar mixture. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Once boiled, remove from heat and set aside. It should be sweet, sour and salty – the taste will balance out nicely when served with meat and vegetables later.

2. Preparing the noodles using dried rice vermicelli/noodles (photo left):
a - Different noodles have different preparation instructions2. This is a guideline to soak the noodles for this dish. Loosen the noodles before placing them in a large saucepan. Pour over boiling water to cover the noodles. Put the lid on and leave to soften for 7-8 minutes (depending on the type of noodles) – to test if it’s ready, take a strand out and taste (it should be tender and not hard in the middle). Drain in a colander and run under cold running water while using your fingers to separate the noodles. With your hand, press down to force out any remaining liquid.

b -Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the oil and spring onion leaves and mix well. Cover and set aside. The noodles are commonly eaten at room temperature, but if preferred, you may warm them up in a microware - then sprinkle with roasted onions, if using, just before serving.

3. Preparing the meat and seafood:
a – Put the beef in the freezer for an hour to make it easier to slice. Then slice it very thinly cross-grain. For easy serving later, arrange the beef slices on a plate in overlapping layers3. Cover and set aside.

b – To prepare fresh prawns see illustration. Arrange the prepared prawns on a serving plate and set aside (in the fridge). If using the frozen prawns, make sure that they are thoroughly thawed.

c – To prepare the squids see illustration. Arrange the meat and the tentacles on a serving plate and set aside (in the fridge). If using the frozen squids, make sure that they are thoroughly thawed.

4. To serve:
a - Place the fondue pot in the middle of the table and arrange the plates of raw beef, prawns, squid, noodles and vegetables around it. (Note: you can also use fish, mussels and lamb, if desired).

b – Pour the sauce into the fondue/steam boat and bring to the boil. (Note: You may not need to use all the sauce initially so set aside the remainder for topping up later).

c – Meanwhile, serve yourself to noodles (steamed rice) and vegetables.

d – When the sauce is boiling, put the meat of your choice into a wire basket and place into the pot. For beef, it takes no time at all to cook. For the prawn and squid, they should not be cooked for longer than 2 minutes otherwise they will become rubbery. Once cooked, transfer to your plate and serve with the noodles and vegetables (If desired, you can also dip the vegetable of your choice into the sauce for flavour). Use a spoon to serve yourself to some sauce from the fondue pot.

e – After a while, the sauce will become too thick. Top it up with the remaining sauce, if any. Otherwise, use water, beer, white wine or red wine instead.

f - Leftover sauce can be strained and frozen for up to 3-4 months.