Cambodian salads are bold creations that pack a fiery, pungent, yet deeply refreshing punch. Cambodian salads marry a variety of local ingredients, such as green mango, unripe papaya, and assorted herbs and vegetables. These fresh, crunchy greens often find themselves dressed in beloved Khmer seasonings, such as fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, and prahok.

Cambodian Salads
Cambodian salads are refreshing, tangy, and spicy

Below is a list of the most popular Cambodian salads.

  • Cambodian mango salad (neorm svay)
  • Beef ceviche (plea sach ko)
  • Cucumber Salad (neorm trasak)
  • Cambodian glass noodle salad (neorm masour)
  • Pomelo lalad (neorm kroch thlong)
  • Larb (chicken, pork, or beef)

All of the Cambodian salads listed above include some type of animal protein, which ranges from rare beef to dried shrimp and smoked fish. No Cambodian salad is thus truly vegetarian in its pure, traditional form. However, simple ingredient switches (like using salt instead of fish sauce, or tofu in place of meat) make it easy to make most Khmer salads vegetarian, or even vegan.

Mango and cucumber salads are the least difficult and time-consuming Cambodian salads to make, especially if you’re a novice chef or are just starting to explore Cambodian cuisine. The most common difficulty you’ll run into while trying to make a Cambodian salad is finding some of the more exotic ingredients, such as prahok sauce or green mangos. However, a bit of creativity will help you come up with suitable substitutes — and we’ve done this for you in most of the salad recipes to which we link from this guide.

What are Cambodian salads made with?

Cambodian salads are generally made with any of the following three categories of ingredients.

  • Herbs and spices
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Dressings and flavors
  • Proteins

Below we take a closer look at these Cambodian salad ingredient groups.

Herbs and spices in Cambodian salads

Cambodian salads are known for their aromatic herbs and spices. Lemongrass, mint, Thai basil, and cilantro are some of the most common herbs used in Khmer salads. Meanwhile, a few lesser-known salad recipes feature unique herbs in Cambodian cuisine, including holy basil, river leaf creeper, and rice paddy herb.

Spices play an essential role in adding depth to the flavors of Cambodian salads. Spices such as garlic, ginger, shallots, and Kampot pepper feature prominently in Cambodian salads, contributing pungency and heat to the mix.

Dressings and flavors in Cambodian salads

The dressings and flavors of Cambodian salads typically balance saltiness, acidity, and sweetness. Key ingredients that produce this balance include popular Khmer seasonings such as fish or soy sauce, lime juice, vinegar, and white or palm sugar. The sugar is an essential counterbalance that softens the sharpness of lime juice or other tangy ingredients.

Apart from the pillars of savouriness, acid, and sweetness, Cambodian salads often feature a nutty aroma produced by crushed peanuts, or piquance derived from dried shrimp or prahok sauce.

Vegetables and fruits in Cambodian salads

A variety of vegetables and fruits provide the base for many Cambodian salads. Green cabbage, for example, is an irreplaceable foundation for neorm, the classic Cambodian salad that gets customized into countless iterations.

Fruits (particularly unripe ones) are often incorporated into Cambodian salad recipes, too. For example, green papaya and green mango form the bases of two quintessential Khmer salads — bok lahong and neorm svay.

Proteins in Khmer salads

The vast majority of Cambodian salads are made with some sort of protein. Beef, chicken, pork, and various seafood products are the common choice of protein in these salads, and some of the more adventurous recipes feature raw, or marinated meats.

Traditional Cambodian salads

The following are eight traditional Cambodian salads that embody the classic Khmer flavors. We’ve been able to reproduce the eight salad recipes below without issue at home, outside of Cambodia.

  • Cambodian mango salad (neorm svay)
  • Beef ceviche (plea sach ko)
  • Cucumber Salad (neorm trasak)
  • Cambodian glass noodle salad (neorm masour)
  • Pomelo lalad (neorm kroch thlong)
  • Chicken larb
  • Pork larb
  • Beef larb

In the following sections, we take a deeper look at these eight Cambodian salad dishes (and provide links to recipes that we’ve managed to publish already).

Cucumber salad (neorm trasak)

This Cambodian cucumber salad is a light and refreshing dish made with sliced cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, cabbage, fresh herbs, and a meat of your choice. It’s mixed with a dressing of fish sauce, tamarind sauce, sugar, prahok sauce, coconut milk, and chili. This salad is often enjoyed as a standalone dish but may be served alongside other traditional Cambodian meals, especially at weddings.

Cambodian mango salad (neorm svay)

Cambodian mango salad is a spicy dish made from unripe green mangoes. This heat-packed salad combines the sour, nutty aroma of green mangoes with the bold spice of chili peppers and the pungence of garlic and fish sauce. The result is a vibrant, flavorful dish that perfectly balances sweet, sour, spicy, and savory tastes, and pairs well with meat and seafood. Some versions of the green mango salad actually include boiled shrimp, while others are made with dried, smoked fish. Mostly, however, Cambodian cooks keep this salad vegetarian since it’s a side to meat dishes anyway.

Beef ceviche (plea sach ko)

Beef ceviche (plea sach ko in Khmer) is a Cambodian salad made with rare beef. The beef is thinly sliced and marinated in lime juice, garlic, chili, prahok sauce, and fish sauce. The salad typically comprises fresh herbs like mint, basil, and cilantro, and crunchy vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, and long beans.

Cambodian glass noodle salad (neorm masour)

The glass noodle salad is a spicy salad that’s similar to cucumber and cabbage neorm, but made with mung bean-based cellophane noodles. The noodles give the salad a chewier texture and make it a more filling meal.

Pomelo lalad (neorm kroch thlong)

Neorm kroch thlong is a traditional sweet and tangy Cambodian salad made with juicy pomelo fruit. The pomelo is combined with ingredients like prawns, shredded banana flower, and fresh herbs, then dressed with a mixture of lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce.

Chicken larb (laab sach moan)

Chicken larb is a popular Cambodian dish that combines minced chicken with fresh herbs, lime juice, fish sauce, and chili. It is typically served with rice and a variety of vegetables. Larb can be made with other proteins, including pork and beef.

Pork larb (laab sach chrouk)

Similar to chicken larb, pork larb is a spicy mixture of minced pork, herbs, and spices, dressed with lime juice, fish sauce, and chili. This dish is a popular choice for those looking for a flavorful, protein-rich meal.

Beef larb (laab sach ko)

Beef larb is another variation of the traditional larb dish, featuring minced beef instead of chicken or pork. The dish maintains the same mix of fresh herbs, spices, and flavorful dressing as its counterparts, making it a popular option for fans of Cambodian cuisine.

Which Cambodian salads are vegetarian?

No, Cambodian salads are vegetarian in their traditional form. Even those Khmer salad recipes that often contain no meat or fish (like mango or papaya salads) are technically not vegetarian because their dressing includes fish sauce. Fish sauce is made from fermented fish, so it is not a vegetarian seasoning.

That said, the following three Cambodian salads are easily convertible into vegetarian meals.

  • Mango salad: Replace the fish sauce with salt and this simple substitution makes the salad vegetarian.
  • Papaya salad: Replace fish sauce with soy sauce or salt. Then, either leave out prahok altogether or add some fermented beans to the salad instead.
  • Cucumber salad: Substitute meat (traditionally pork) with tofu, swap fish sauce for salt, and do away with prahok sauce altogether to get a vegetarian version of this popular Cambodian salad. Note that leaving out prahok takes away the salad’s fundamental pungent aroma.

How do you make Cambodian cabbage salad?

To make a simple Cambodian cabbage salad, follow the two steps below.

  1. Cut and mix the greens: Combine shredded cabbage, julienned carrots, chopped cilantro, and crushed peanuts.
  2. Dress the mix: Dress the salad with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, prahok sauce, and minced garlic.
  3. Allow the mix to rest: Mix all the ingredients together and let the salad sit for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

This spicy, crunchy creation is easy to make and is perfect for a light meal or side dish.

What are the easiest Cambodian salad recipes?

Below are the two easiest Cambodian salad recipes.

  • Cambodian mango salad: This mango salad is the simplest Khmer salad because it has only five essential ingredients and takes a mere 15 minutes to prepare. All you need to make the mango salad is unripe mango, chili peppers, fish sauce, and shallots. However, note that you may struggle to find unripe mangos outside of Southeast Asian or South Asian supermarkets.
  • Cucumber salad: Cambodian cucumber salad requires a few more ingredients than mango salad, but these are easy to find in most supermarkets. The preparation entails nothing more than chopping some vegetables, and some boiled meat, and adding a few sauces and seasonings. You may find it challenging to get your hands on prahok sauce, but you can leave this ingredient out and still end up with a unique, well-balanced salad.


  • Thida Koeut

    Thida Koeut, born near Kampot, Cambodia, is the chef and author behind Thida's Kitchen. Immersed in Cambodian gastronomy from childhood, she later managed a renowned Danish-French fusion restaurant in Kampot, mastering European culinary techniques. Her hands-on farming experience deepened her connection to authentic Cambodian ingredients. Now based in New Westminster, British Columbia, Thida seamlessly blends her rich heritage with global flavors, presenting them to the world through her online publication.

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