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Cambodian cooking and use of dairy

Melbourne
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Cambodian cooking and use of dairy

Hi,

I will still be breastfeeding my baby when we travel to Cambodia next month. I am on a dairy-free diet due to baby's easily upset stomach. I am just wondering whether cow's milk (and derivatives of) is a commonly used ingredient in Cambodian cooking? e.g. butter, cream, milk powder.

It seems to be used in a lot of processed foods here in Australia but I am hoping that the food we will be enjoying whilst travelling will be mainly fresh meat/veg/rice/noodle/curry dishes that aren't as processed/preserved as they are here.

Does anyone by chance know if milk powder is commonly used in bread (like it is in Australia)?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Adelaide
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1. Re: Cambodian cooking and use of dairy

An interesting question that many of us wouldn't have given a thought to until now. I've tried to think of anything Cambodian that is made with dairy products, but I've drawn a blank.

You will find coconut milk being used in a lot of dishes, but there's no dairy there. We saw cows aplenty, but I assumed that they were grown for beef. Comments from a guide that took us to Kulen Mountains would seem to indicate that there is no dairy industry at all in Cambodia, and that any milk from cows is imported. This would tend to make it very expensive and preclude its use in everyday eating. Problem is they just don't have that beautiful fine green grass that is essential for producing milk.

I'm only guessing here, but I think that anything containing cows milk would be a very rare dish indeed. But it certainly doesn't hurt to ask before you order.

Edited: 1:38 am, December 19, 2013
Brisbane, Australia
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2. Re: Cambodian cooking and use of dairy

I agree with westendgaz and have been giving this great thought as l have recently bee diagnosed with Dairy intolerance, it is damn hard to follow in Aust as you would know Lisa!! As l am a coeliac l do not eat bread products but have has the yummy rice flour with coconut pancakes found in some streets and have had no drama's.

I honestly think you will be fine as there are not many milk products at all, but not sure about the bread.

Perth, Australia
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3. Re: Cambodian cooking and use of dairy

I've also been thinking hard and visualising a lot of the fantastic food available in Cambodia and have come up with a blank about diary products. I think that if you stick to local restaurants and steer away from western type food you'll be perfectly alright. You'll certainly come across dishes which include coconut milk as westedgaz mentioned, but that won't harm you given your situation.

It will be very easy to avoid bread altogether if you're concerned about that as there are so many other wonderful things to eat that you won't need it.

Melbourne
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4. Re: Cambodian cooking and use of dairy

Thank you for all of your replies so far. It is indeed a tough food to cut out in Australia due to it's many derivatives being used in so many products. So thank you so much for your insight into the use of dairy, or lack thereof, in Cambodia.

I'm excited by these pancakes! I'm curious though, would they not have milk in them like we would use here to make pancakes?

I know this is a bit off-topic, but what do their babies drink once they are off breast milk and formula? Just purely water, I would imagine?

Melbourne
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5. Re: Cambodian cooking and use of dairy

Ann, the dairy-free eating has certainly helped me to lose the baby weight because I'm usually a big biscuit fan! Unfortunately, as time has gone on I have found quite a few treats that fit my requirements - Whittakers dark chocolate with almonds being one of them!

Melbourne
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6. Re: Cambodian cooking and use of dairy

So, just to clarify, you don't think they throw a knob of butter in the pan before they start a dish?

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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7. Re: Cambodian cooking and use of dairy

Dairy is not common in Cambodian cooking at all. There are minimal local dairy products available. Most dairy comes from Vietnam. Usually when frying, they will use pork fat or oil - butter is expensive. Coffee is generally served with sweetened condensed milk and even that has precious little milk (mostly oil and sugar). Things that you might expect to use milk are often made with coconut milk, just as often things you might expect to have wheat in them often use (cheaper) rice or potato flour.

At more expensive places selling foreign food they will use dairy - but good places should be able to tell you what has it.

I can't say for sure - but I wouldn't be surprised if the local bread (baguettes) was dairy-free too.

Brisbane, Australia
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8. Re: Cambodian cooking and use of dairy

No they do not throw that butter in the pan first as Anniepp has said, and they use coconut milk and oils or water! Milk as we know it in aust is very scarce in Cambodia and so are all those nasty other products that bother people like us! I am always the wellest when in Asia!!

I am now on a mission to find out if Baguettes have dairy products!!

Whittakers dark chocolate with almonds!!! Are you sure???

Melbourne
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9. Re: Cambodian cooking and use of dairy

I am very sure! All their dark choc products I have looked at do not contain dairy. I think I remember double checking on their website as well.

Thank you for your help everyone. I am going to eat like a king!

Perth, Australia
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10. Re: Cambodian cooking and use of dairy

On a number of occasions throughout the years when we've been discussing with local people the lack of nutrition many people in Cambodia suffer, I've asked why they don't use the milk from the many cows we've seen wandering around. I've had a variety of responses which have included - the cows don't have any milk, if the cows had any milk it would be bad and milk is not good for us because our stomachs are not used to it. I've also had blank looks as though the person didn't know what I was talking about even though they understood the question.

So, I came to the conclusion that milk from cows is not something that is used or considered edible, added to which is the comment about their stomachs not being used to it and it would possibly make them ill which I can understand as many people in western countries are allergic to dairy products.

Edited: 12:19 am, December 21, 2013