Coconut water is one of the easiest and safest street foods for visitors to try in Phnom Penh. As long as the coconut is not damaged, the liquid inside young coconuts is sterile and safe for sensitive tummies.
Coconut water is used in Khmer cooking, but it’s also perfect for streetside drinking. It contains high potassium and mineral content, making it the perfect rehydration drink after a long day of sightseeing or a night out on the town. Many Cambodians believe that drinking a coconut a day will keep one in peak health.
Coconut vendors roam the streets of Phnom Penh, pulling carts piled high with young, green coconuts that they sell for 2,000 riel apiece. When you order a coconut it should not have been opened already — you want a fresh coconut that they chop open in front of you. If you buy a coconut from a store or streetside stall, they will often have a cold one in an ice chest that’s unopened, but with the husk already removed.
Young coconuts are served with a straw to drink the coconut water inside. Don’t worry, this isn’t high calorie coconut milk — coconut water is fat-free and very refreshing.
Once you’re done drinking the water, you can ask the coconut vendor to chop open the coconut for you to allow access to the coconut flesh inside. The meat inside is very tender, almost a jelly, and can be scraped off with part of the outside shell or a spoon and eaten. Be careful not to scrape too hard, or you’ll end up eating coconut husk.
Khmer coconut-water drinking vocabulary
Cold coconut water: dteuk doang dtra-jay-uk
By Lina Goldberg
Last updated on 18th November, 2015.