The Delicious Songvak Cambodian Fish Cake(សង្វាក់)


Songvak is well known and well enjoyed Cambodian style fish cake that is swerved throughout the country, but is most famous in Battambang. I first tried this quirky dish towards the end of my first ill-fated time living in Siem Reap.

I have since rediscovered this dish along my travels in Cambodia in the aforementioned Battambang, as well as other Khmer fish cake variants at Kep seafood market among others. One can also find vaguely similar dishes in neighboring Vietnam and Thailand.

What the Songvak (សង្វាក់)?

It is what is loosely described as a fishcake, but one very different from any western notion of such. Like all of the best Khmer dishes once it is made and prepared it is served in a banana leaf, with it being great to see plastic being avoided.

The dish which as stated is from Battambang originally has now spread throughout the country, with most places, such as Siem Reap having their own regional varieties. A core tenet of this dish is how sour it is, with different regions and places again taking their own take on this.

There are also variations that look very similar, but in fact are extremely different, such as the Num Slek Jaak, which you need to be very careful of when you visit Kep Crab Market.

And what fish do they use in Songvak? From the Khmer friends that I have asked I have yet to get a straight answer, but I have garnered that a few plentiful fish are used, with the recipe being adept to change to what is available. Yep like most global fishcakes a Cambodian fishcake is full of mystery meat too!

How to eat Songvak(សង្វាក់)?

And now we get to the fun part of any dish, how exactly do you eat it? Well songvak comes with Khmer vegetables, herbs and spices and is served within a banana leaf and with rice noodles.

You then unwrap the banana leaf like it is Christmas, wrap the songvak in lettuce add some veggies and spice, throw in the rice noodles and just eat it as a big mix. Alternatively you can just eat it as a beer snack whereby you talk rubbish, drink beer and knock back these spicy morsels at will. I haver also previously enjoyed them with some pong muan ang, while out and about in Battambang.

Phhoto: ស្នាដៃអ្នកបាត់ដំបង

Where can you get Songvak in Cambodia?

While traditionally a dish of Battambang as stated you can get it pretty much everywhere in Cambodia, with me walking past it in Phnom Penh almost every day.

Therefore pretty much anywhere that has street food has songvak. If you want to go real McCoy and get it in Battambang we suggest taking the train there from Phnom Penh, which is also a great way to go further afield to the street food joys of Poipet and indeed Bangkok.

And that is the story of Songvak, a very Cambodian fish cake.