Adapted from an article in Cambodge Mag
Ansorm Chrouk cakes are traditionally made for festivals, weddings and big events, but Sophea now makes them all year round and in that way is able to provide employment for up to eight widows, retirees and children who would be able to save up for their studies
In a recent article, the Phnom Penh Post celebrated the creations of Nget Sophea from Prek village in Stung Treng province. She has combined tradition and transformation in her version of Ansorm Chrouk, a steamed glutinous rice cake with pork, by mixing the rice with pandan leaf water, giving the cakes a soft green colour, and placing a salted duck egg at their heart. A rich and delicious surprise.
She was inspired by a recipe handed down to her by her grandparents and now people travel from across Cambodia to taste her creations which were recently recognised as a signature dish for the region by the Stung Treng Provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts.
Ansorm Chrouk cakes are traditionally made for festivals, weddings and big events, but Sophea now makes them all year round and in that way is able to provide employment for up to eight widows, retirees and children who would be able to save up for their studies.
Speaking to the Post, Stung Treng provincial department of tourism director Orn Porsoeun felt that selling Ansorm Chrouk is part of the culture and is attractive as Sophea’s cakes are unique and have a different taste.
“I have always been involved in promoting and disseminating information about products which are unique to attract more tourists. I see ansorm as a kind of food with unique flavour, which tourists must not overlook. It is a must-try.”
Sophea had never intended to take this path. She used to sell porridge and noodles at Stung Treng market, but like so many was forced to adapt when Covid-19 hit. Then one day, she was making the cakes for her family, but made too many.
“I had made about 30 cakes, which was too much. I thought we wouldn’t be able to finish them, so my children posted on Facebook to see if anyone was interested in buying [them]“.
“After that, people started ordering 50-60 cakes. That was when my business started. The orders gradually gradually increased to 80 cakes a day, then 100 to 150 and about 500 during about 500 cakes during the festival,” she said.
She also says that the cakes are not her creation, but that of her elders, saying “I learned how to do it from my grandparents and my mother. Now I transfer those skills to the children who work with me.” And alongside the recipe, she has also kept up the family tradition of transmission of knowledge, sharing the recipe with whomever is curious.
She is not stopping there either, and is now looking at different recipes, such as a Banana Ansorm, that she can sell in front of her house, while also educating the next generation about traditional Khmer food in order to keep traditions alive.
Stung Treng is also known for its fish soups, fried buffalo and larb, which in Stung Treng is made with fish in contrast to other regions of Cambodia.
Sophea’s Ansorm Chrouk cakes can be ordered online via her Facebook page, P-DA Food.