La Table Khmère: A Delightful Cooking Class in Cambodia

One of the wonderful things about traveling is discovering new dishes, ingredients and cooking methods. The ultimate way to get to know a country’s local and culinary specialities is to take a cooking class.

In Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, we took a half-day Cambodia cooking class with the goal of learning how to make Fish Amok, the National Dish.

Read on and discover more about Cambodian Cuisine.

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La Table Khmère Cambodia Cooking Class and Restaurant

La Table Khmère is a restaurant and cooking school that focuses on traditional Khmer specialties. We discovered this cooking class while searching online for an intimate and authentic cooking environment.

One thing that sold us on La Table Khmère is their dedicated focus to the flavors of Cambodian cuisine. Whether you eat at the restaurant or take a cooking class, the emphasis is on Khmer dishes.

The restaurant has a modern feel, with wide open seating and lots of natural light. It is a great place to sample some of Cambodia’s traditional cuisine.

La Table Khmere Cambodia Cooking Class Authentic Food QuestOutside of La Table Khmère restaurant and cooking school

The cooking class takes place at the back of the restaurant in a laboratory-like area behind a glass wall. Modern with stainless steel countertops, fully equipped individual workspaces and air conditioning makes it a comfortable place to spend half a day.

La Table Khmere lab Cambodia Cooking Class Authentic Food QuestThe cooking class lab at the back of the restaurant
La Table Khmere Workspace Cambodia Cooking Class Authentic Food QuestWell equipped individual workstation

Two cooking classes are offered daily. The morning class starts at 9:00 am with a visit to the local market. And the afternoon class is at 3:00 pm, with no market visit.

Having already visited a couple of local markets in Phnom Penh, we opted for the afternoon class. Our main focus was understanding Cambodian cuisine, which had eluded us at that point.

La Table Khmère Cooking Experience

In an intimate class of four, a Swiss couple and the two of us, we enjoyed the personalized attention of our English speaking Khmer cooking instructor.

Assisting him, was another cooking instructor, who kept a watchful eye on us as we cut, chopped and sliced the ingredients for the different dishes.

Instructors at La Table Khmere Cambodia Cooking Class Authentic Food QuestOur cooking instructors

We prepared and cooked all the dishes, non-stop for about 3 hours and then ate our meals in the main restaurant section.

The three traditional Khmer dishes we learned to make were:

  • Fish Amok
  • Green Mango Salad
  • Chek Ktis for dessert

Making Fish Amok – The Traditional Way

Eating Amok, is one delicious experience. However, cooking it is something else. Learning how to make this dish was a reminder of how much we have been spoiled by modern conveniences.

The traditional preparation of Amok is by mortar and pestle. That means, you grind most of the ingredients by hand. This is hard work and much more difficult than it looks.

Cooking Class Group at La Table Khmere Cambodia Cooking Class Authentic Food QuestPounding our way through fish Amok!

After everything was prepared, we learned how to make banana leaf bowls for steaming the amok. The banana leaves impart their subtle fragrant aroma to the sauce. Adding the perfect depth of sweet, salty and tangy coconut flavor. Cooking in banana leaves also makes the dish juicy, by keeping all the moisture during the steaming process.

Steaming Amok La Table Khmere Cambodia Cooking Class Authentic Food QuestCambodian Fish Amok steamed in banana leaves

Download the recipe for Traditional Fish Amok from La Table Khmère.

Green Mango Salad – Mango a Common Thread to Our Southeast Asian Quest 

If you love Mangoes, then Southeast Asia is your playground. On our quest for authentic food in Southeast Asia, we’ve had some of the sweetest most delicious mangoes ever.

Mangoes are native to Southeast Asia and you’ll find all kinds of varieties. Green Mangoes were new to us and we discovered they are widely used in Southeast Asian salads and some desserts.

Green mangoes generally have a tart taste with a crispy texture. They are firm and green on the outside. Sliced or shredded, they make mouth-watering snacks, relishes and dipping sauces for fish, and wonderful salads.

To make this salad, we had to peel and shred two mangoes as well as peel and grate one carrot. We laid them onto a plate while we prepared and sliced other ingredients to prepare the seasoning.

Green Mangoes at La Table Khmere Cambodia Cooking Class Authentic Food QuestGreen mangoes ready to be chopped for the salad

In a mortar, we added the sliced chilies, shallots, peanuts, sugar and salt and some additional seasoning.

After we had spent some time peeling and shredding, it was time to mix it all and pound it together. Contrary to the preparation of the Papaya Salad at our cooking class in Thailand, this time we really had to squeeze the mix until we got some juice out of it.

Salad at La Table Khmere Cambodia Cooking Class Authentic Food QuestGreen mangoes salad in the making

This ended up being a delicious fresh salad. The green mangoes gave an interesting hint of spice and citrus to the dish softened by the flavor of the basil leaves. A really pleasant contrast of flavors!

Download the recipe for the Green Mango Salad from La Table Khmère.

Chek Ktis: Banana with Tapioca and Gelatin

Cambodian desserts are delicate and mouthwatering. This dessert is no exception!

Chek Ktis is a delicious banana dessert made warm with tapioca, gelatin and coconut milk. We sliced the bananas and cooked them in a deep pan with water, tapioca, coconut milk, sugar and salt.

Chek Ktis at La Table Khmere Cambodia Cooking Class Authentic Food QuestCooking bananas for the Chek Ktis

To make this dessert, we used Palm Sugar, a natural sugar popular in Southeast Asia cooking.  

We discovered palm sugar for the first time and learned that it comes from sap is harvested from palm trees. The sap is boiled and left to harden to reveal a light golden to rich dark brown colored sugar.

Palm sugar does not taste as sweet as refined white sugar. It has a caramel and smoky taste which works really well with the dessert. Palm sugar has many benefits including a low glycemic index, which doesn’t have the blood-sugar spike effect (sugar high) that is common in regular refined sugar. For where to buy palm sugar, check out Amazon.com.

Palm Sugar Cambodia Cooking Class Authentic Food QuestPalm Sugar from Cambodia

This dessert was relatively easy to make and it resembled some popular Chè, Vietnamese desserts. It was a great finish to our meal. A sweet touch, not too heavy, to close the meal.

Download the recipe for the Chek Ktis from La Table Khmère.

Chek Ktis La Table Khmer Cambodia cooking class Authentic Food QuestChek Ktis from our cooking class in Phnom Penh
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In Summary

Taking a Cambodia cooking class at La Table Khmère was a really enjoyable experience. The instructor was knowledgeable and the environment fun and relaxed.

After our 3-hour long cooking class in Phnom Penh, we sat in the main restaurant and leisurely enjoyed our food. Together with the Swiss couple, we enjoyed the delicious Cambodian cuisine we had just prepared. We left La Table Khmère satisfied and with a new appreciation of the Cambodian food.

On your travels, take a cooking class and learn how to make the traditional dishes. You will find that your experience will deepen considerably. By way of example, Fish Amok was one of our favorite Cambodian dishes. When we learned how to make it the traditional way, pounding and grinding we developed a new appreciation for the dish and the people who prepare the meal.

With La Table Khmère Cambodia cooking class, explore the local flavors and develop a richer understanding of the people and place.

Claire at La Table Khmere Cambodia Cooking Class Authentic Food Quest
Rosemary at La Table Khmere Cambodia Cooking Class Authentic Food Quest

La Table Khmère Practical Information

Book your Cambodia cooking class directly at: La Table Khmère Cambodia cooking class

Address: 11E street 278, Phnom Penh; [email protected]

Classes are offered every day.

Morning Classes: 8:30 am to 12:30 pm (with a market visit)

Afternoon Classes: 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm (no market visits in the afternoon)

Cost: $25.00 per person or $21 USD without a market visit.

Trip Advisor Reviews

UPDATE! When you book your class online, in the drop-down menu tell La Table Khmère that you “discovered the cooking class by: Authentic Food”. You will get a complimentary soft drink, coffee or tea on us!

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64 comments

  1. We love cooking classes–it’s such a great way to get insight on new cuisine, and bringing home the recipes is always a plus too 🙂 This looks like a great one to take and I love that you had a small class size. The food you made sounds delicious!

    Reply
    • You are so right Jenna, cooking classes are a lot of fun and full of insights. Where have you taken cooking classes before? Indeed the small and intimate classes do make a difference. Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  2. I love this article! Sluuurrrrp. 🙂 . The Cambodian Fish Amok looks quite delicious. It has also reminded of my own experience of trying my hand at Khmer Cooking. Best part was that was to be our lunch and I was glad to see my dishes were quickly gobbled up.

    Reply
    • Sounds like you had a delicious experience making Fish Amok as well. We certainly devoured it happily after the cooking class. Taking a cooking class is truly a wonderful way to learn more about the local foods and flavors. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  3. La Table Khmère sounds like a great restaurant and cooking school! I would love to take the morning class to visit the markets 🙂 I love how the cooking experience is traditional and authentic down to hand grinding the ingredients for Amok. And the banana leaf bowls! Sounds like an incredible way to explore Cambodian cuisine 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Meg. Indeed by taking the cooking class we really found out how difficult the Fish Amok is to make. We now have a new appreciation for it especially after all that pounding. Agree, taking a cooking class is a great way to explore a local cuisine. Cheers!

      Reply
  4. This looks like so much fun and so delicious. I love a good Cambodian amok dish. After being told about palm sugar when we visited Cambodia 5 years ago I use it all the time in my cooking. Have you started cooking these dishes yourself now that you’re home?

    Reply
    • That’s wonderful Jean that you also appreciate a good Cambodian Amok. It is truly delicious. Fish Amok is definitively on the agenda to be prepared at home, but it hasn’t happened yet 🙂 Will make it very soon. Palm sugar is quite an interesting and delicious discovery. Thanks for your comments!!

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  5. I agree that a visit to a new place is kind of complete when you explore food, ingredients and local cooking methods. I don’t cook as much myself but food fascinates me and I would take up this class for the fun of it 🙂

    $25.00 per person is so so affordable!

    Reply
    • Hi Victoria, indeed taking a cooking class does open you up to learning so much more about a local culture. Give it a go the next time you travel. You’ll have a blast!! Do come back and let us know where and what you learn how to make. Cheers!

      Reply
    • Have a wonderful time in Cambodia. There is certainly lots to see and delicious food to explore. We had an amazing time at La Table Khmere and we most certainly recommend the class. Look into it and let us know what you think. Cheers!

      Reply
  6. Oh this is great! I love to learn to cook and I love travel (I also love to eat!!!) I am going to Cambodia soon so this is super useful, I want to take this class

    Reply
    • That’s awesome to hear Natasha that you’ll be traveling to Cambodia soon. You’ll enjoy your visit and the cooking class is quite an experience. We highly recommend it!! Do let us know how it goes!!

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  7. Doing cooking classes in the country you are visiting is a great way to check out the local cuisine. Love this post. Want to try some Cambodian food now 😛

    Reply
  8. Cooking classes are the best! That’s so cool that you have the option to go to the local market! I love mangos and love learning how to cook with them. In the Dominican Republic, I learned how to make a ceviche that had mango and Lion fish. so Yummy!

    Reply
    • Appreciate your comments Tiara…just one simple question. Is there any reason why you have not taken a cooking class before? Give it a try. You’ll be surprised by how much fun it really is!! Let us know where you end up going!

      Reply
  9. This reminds me of the cooking class my husband took in Korea. It looks like the cooking class you took was very informative and a lot of fun. I would love to take a cooking class to learn how to make a unique meal for entertainging guests.

    Reply
    • Taking a cooking class is indeed a great way to learn more about the local foods and learn new cooking techniques. The next time you travel, take a class and impress your guests!! And then, let us know what you made and how it turned out!! Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  10. I have always wanted to try a cooking class when I’m traveling but all the sightseeing gets in the way, lol! Going to have to make the experience a priority because this looked like it was a lot of fun and then you walk away knowing how to do something new!

    Reply
    • You are right Sophie, you have to “schedule” in cooking classes like you do seeing the sites. It is a different kind of experience because all your senses are engaged and you get to eat your wonderful creation as well. On your next trip, take a class and let us know what your thoughts!! Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  11. That looks fantastic. It’s so nice to do a class where they actually let you make your own dish, rather than jut assisting the main chef. I bet it tasted all the better.
    Thank you so much for sharing the recipes (lord knows where I’ll be able to source banana leaves). I love fish amok so I’ll give it a good go!!

    Reply
    • That’s awesome to hear Rosie that you will make the Fish Amok. Do let us know how it turns out. In terms of finding banana leaves, check your closest ethnic store. Glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks again!

      Reply
  12. Such a thorough description, both of the restaurant and of how the class is conducted. And the food pics look so very yummy! <3 Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  13. This is the second post that I have read today that involved taking a cooking class to immerse with the local culture. What a great idea! I have never thought of enrolling in a cooking class to learn about local cuisine, but I will in the future. 🙂

    Reply
    • Glad to have inspired you to take a cooking class on your travels. It really does open you up to a new experience. Stop back and let us know where you end up taking it!! Cheers and thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  14. This looks so nice and tasteful! I’ve never done a cookingclass actually, but would love to do one. Also would love to go to Cambodia, so double reason for a visit!

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  15. What an awesome way to truly immerse yourself in another culture! Next time I go abroad, I’ll have to research to see if I can find a cooking class like this!

    Reply
    • Thanks Miranda and glad you enjoyed reading about the cooking class experience. Check out the cooking class page on the site for recommendations of classes and partners. Do let us know where you end up going. Cheers!

      Reply
    • Appreciate your feedback Candy. And yes, indeed, do take a cooking class, you will find your experience to me much richer and deeper as a result. Let us know what you end up cooking! Don’t forget to check out our cooking class page for recommendations and partners. Cheers.

      Reply
    • Hi Yuen, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your love for Khmer cuisine. We’ll certainly check out your website for more about Cambodian cuisine. We discovered new smells like Kreoung and enjoyed that process. A truly wonderful experience. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  16. What a fantastic post! I really enjoyed the photos – they complimented your post perfectly. It never occured to me to take a cooking class while traveling but after seeing this I definitely will consider it on my next trip. The food you made looks beautiful! What a fun experience!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Tina, for your feedback. Indeed taking a cooking class allows you, we believe, to travel deeper. Take one on your next trip and see what you discover. Do come back and let us know how you found the experience. Cheers!

      Reply

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