Stories

Giving Cambodian Food a New Appearance

By: Mealea Mang

The sign showing the entrance and the name of the market. Photo by: Leza Sorn

 

Psa Krom, a fascinating local market located on Psa Krom road in Siem Reap, is full of stalls and small shops on the sides of the road. Besides the sellers’ voices, all you hear are the sounds of vehicles passing by and the sound of spatulas smashing against pots and pans with aromatic smells from the food fill the air. The stalls and small shops that surround by road attract a lot of customers, as the fragrant smells spread throughout the entire area. The market is crowded and with every glance, you see people buying a variety of food. Quite a few small shops sell fried pork-skin and boiled baby duck eggs. The baby duck egg is one of the delicacies in Southeast Asia. It is an unborn duck embryo that is eaten from the outer shell. Besides the duck eggs, you may also be attracted by the pink and green Cambodian pig-shaped steam pork buns.

 

Fried Pork Skin Photo by: Chanreaksmey Sor
Boiled Baby Duck Egg Photo by: Chanreaksmey Sor

 

“A great Cambodian steam pork bun includes the quality and most importantly the presentation.” – said Bun Sun, a Cambodian steamed pork bun seller at Psa Krom in Siem Reap province

Bun Sun, the pork buns seller Photo by: Leza Sorn

Bun Sun is a Cambodian steamed pork bun seller, who has been selling buns for 10 years now. He first started selling in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia for six years and has been selling here in Siem Reap for 4 years now.

Photo by: Leza Sorn

He starts making buns from 8 am in the morning until 1 or 2 pm in the afternoon, then sets off to the market at around 3 pm. He can make between 100 to 300 buns within an hour with the help of his wife. The process of making steamed pork buns is long, especially the process of making the bun’s filling, which is made from pork, sausage and egg.

Bun Sun makes up to 600 buns every day, including the ones with the pig shape. He was inspired to make pig-shaped buns from Youtube. “A great Cambodian steam pork bun includes the quality and most importantly the presentation, because to Cambodians, the look of  the food makes it more interesting to eat,” the seller mentioned. Similar to other chefs, the bun seller didn’t change the taste of the food but developed unique ways to showcase his food.

Normally, sellers work for a steamed pork bun company and underneath each steam pork bun is a thin paper that has the brand name of the company. Bun Sun is not working for any company, so he has his own brand name. “I have my son’s name, not my name as the brand name because I’m old now, and I want to have my son’s name as the brand name.” said the seller.

“I sell at a high price:3000 riel per bun when normally it would be 2500 riel, but people still love my buns because my steam pork buns have both the taste it needs and the presentation,” Bun Sun admits. “I also hope to have a bigger business and help my family.”

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