08 Feb2009


Pasar Chaas or the Old Market was located right in the center of Siem Reap, a short walk from our hotel. So early one morning, with The Teen still passed out from “over-templing” the day before, I decided to spend an hour or so exploring the market. This is a very touristy part of town, close to lots of handicrafts stores, the bar street, etc., but I was just after some local produce… I didn’t want to go blind, unable to speak the language, so a quick check with the hotel front desk yielded me an official government guide that agreed to accompany us (Mrs. MM came along as well)… Now if only we had figured out in advance that our guide was a staunch vegetarian, and didn’t want to have anything to do with fish, amphibians, meat, etc… :) At any rate, once you get past the tourist shops on the perimeter of the market, there is a thriving produce, seafood and meat section and lots of market stalls with cooked food frequented by locals from around the area… Up top, some lavender water hyacinth flowers from the large freshwater lake that is the source of a lot of fish and greens…


Many of the vegetables on offer were a familiar site, not unlike other Asian markets I have visited. Lots of eggplants, long beans, tomatoes, radishes, chillies, herbs, etc. Everything looked INCREDIBLY fresh, and it seemed folks were shopping for just a day’s worth of produce.


This lady had a wonderful basket of smallish limes with that uniquely fresh and acidic twist they add to Indochinese and Thai food. She was also selling pre-made curry paste as the basis for several types of dishes.


She also had several makrut limes, a bit yellowish and less than stellar looking, but I was so thrilled to find them (rather than just the leaves) that I bought a kilo to take home in my luggage, hoping to coax a plant or two from seed.


Fresh palm nuts, the first time I have noticed them in a market, I think…


Thinly sliced palm nut soaked in water.


A type of gourd or relative of upo…


Samphire greens on the lower left of the photo and lotus stems? or something plant like from the freshwater lake…


Cakes of semi-soft and semi-ripe tamarind.


Preserved garlic and other ingredients…


Leafy herbs…


…more herbs…


…what looked like chrysanthemum greens but I didn’t catch the name of these leafy herb…


…mint, etc.


An unidentified green nut or fruit from a palm or large plant.


A local fruit vendor with baskets of a sweet/tart fruit that was mixed with sugar or salt and munched on as a snack.


Snake fruit.


Green tambis or Malay apples… A very pleasant tour through the vegetable and fruit section indeed…



  1. marissewalangkaparis says:

    The photo on tamarinds makes me wonder why we don’t have them done here and sold in that way. Our climate is good for tamarind trees. Thais and Cambodians use them similarly and we do too as in sinigang. They sometimes are brownish but when you use them are very sour like our unripe tamarind. We attended a cooking class in Phuket and they gave us some that looked like that but was very sour when we used it for the broth.
    The “preserved garlic and other ingredients” photo looked interesting.
    The small sweet-tart fruits look like our ‘kalamatitos’ but ours are more on the tart kind but one which you can eat straight out too. Have not seen some in a long time though.
    Don’t we have malay apples too but usually pinkish?
    Very interesting shots…it’s as if we went with you to market…Thanks Mr and Mrs MM for bringing us along thru your digicam….

    Feb 8, 2009 | 7:50 pm


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  3. Ginger says:

    When we were in Siem Reap, I saw a vendor walking with lotus flowers in a bilao. I asked her with the help of some of stall vendors how to eat it. They showed me how to push the seed out and peel and eat it. and made me try some, its very mild in flavor. I bought some but my husband was not too keen on it. Some of it were bitter.

    Feb 8, 2009 | 8:23 pm

  4. marilen rodriguez says:

    wonderful tour of the market. when given the opportunity i also like to make a beeline for the market anywhere i travel – the produce, the people, the scents – feast for the eyes and the belly. thank you, MM! the photos are an antidote to this interminable winter – spring hopefully is coming soon. God bless your day!

    Feb 8, 2009 | 9:20 pm

  5. evel says:

    i think the small green fruits are similar to what we call “mansanitas?”
    ms. marissewalangkaparis, i sometimes see tamarinds done that way in some markets here in cavite.

    Feb 8, 2009 | 10:47 pm

  6. VennisJean says:

    The cakes of tamarind reminded me of what I saw at Colon public market here in cebu. I’m a tamarindo addict (tamarindo is a bar of tamarind candy that is 6-7 inches long and about an inch thick wrapped in yellow cellophane here in cebu). When we got to almost the end of Colon Market I saw peeled ripe tamarind that in on a sack inside a kaing.It is sold by kilo, so anyone who wants to cook tamarind candy just need to buy it from the vendor instead of finding a tree andpeeling the fruit yourself, quite convenient and it is only in Cebu that I saw it, never saw it in Davao though.

    Feb 9, 2009 | 12:25 am

  7. frugalman says:

    I think the edible chrysanthemum plant in your photo might be a type of Garland Chrysanthemum vegetable.
    Here are two links with more info:

    Feb 9, 2009 | 3:11 am

  8. millet says:

    vennisjean, i’ve seen peeled ripe tamarind sold in the public markets in davao. they are usually clumped together in flat discs. they are usually sold by maguindanao or maranao vendors.

    MM, what do they do with the palm nut? they do not look like kaong at all.

    Feb 9, 2009 | 7:08 am

  9. Doddie from Korea says:


    Those chrysanthemum-looking leaves are indeed chrysanthemums only they’re the edible kind. It’s a staple in Japanese and Korean cuisines. If you ever ate udon noodles in a Japanese restaurant, chances are there will be a sprig or two of chrysanthemum leaves.


    Feb 9, 2009 | 7:40 am

  10. Marketman says:

    Doddie, that was what I thought, I used to have it in soups at Japanese restaurants…

    Feb 9, 2009 | 8:24 am

  11. sonia says:

    a very fascinating veggie i saw in the siem reap market were round, miniscule eggplants the size of a small thumb. i ate some in a dish served in a restaurant and they tasted like the eggplants we have here.

    you may failed to see them MM or else you would have surely photographed them .
    but thanks for all the wonderful photos — i missed seeing them for myself

    Feb 9, 2009 | 9:47 am

  12. Marketman says:

    sonia, yes, they did have thai pea eggplants there and I did have a photo but didn’t include it in this post. I did a post on thai pea eggplants years ago, here. :)

    Feb 9, 2009 | 10:11 am

  13. sonia says:

    thanks MM. so that is how they are called — pea eggplants. will visit that post.

    Feb 10, 2009 | 5:34 am

  14. iya says:

    hi MM.wonderful tour of the market. i also always buy makrud limes whenever i can, hoping to plant the seeds but all past attempts have been futile.one time even had “cuttings” carefully wrapped in my suitcase, but not one thrived. my thai friends would then just gift me with a plant or two but these would also die eventually inspite of constant care. hard to grow, slow grower, hard to maintain – but i love looking at the 8-shaped leaves.

    Feb 10, 2009 | 9:40 pm

  15. chris says:

    ginger: were the seeds of the lotus small like black poppy or sesame seeds only they’re round? then as you push the seeds out of the sac, you suck it from the opening and the tart taste invades the taste buds. i remember a boardmate from infanta, quezon who brought some to let us taste the unusual fruits and produce from her province.

    mr. mm: those looked like aratilis at first glance! however you mentioned they were tart, so i thought of our own “butuan.” di ba parang ganoon? thanks for bringing us around the market in combaodia. you make us want for more.

    Feb 10, 2009 | 11:36 pm

  16. cynthia says:

    The green tambis reminded me of the similar fruit I ave eaten in Malaysia. It has a pinkish-red color like our own native tambis but bigger and sweeter. I was ecstatic to find such fruits so I bought a kilo for my own personal consumtion. I finished the whole bag in less than thrity minutes!

    Mar 5, 2009 | 3:10 pm

  17. dorismaclaren says:

    Don’t we call the green tambis MACOPA at home?

    Apr 23, 2009 | 6:22 am

  18. Delma Buhat says:

    Makopa is the Tagalog name for the Malaysian apple. Yes, I never saw the green makopa here in The Philippines. The yellow tart? Isn’t it a kind of semi-riped mangoe? very crispy and less sour that goes with sugar and salt.

    May 15, 2009 | 5:02 pm

  19. Delma Buhat says:

    the unidentified palm nuts are bettle nuts on top of the mam-in, the green heart shape vine. Bettle nuts are used for chewing nganga that goes with lime and mam-in.

    The chrysanthemum leaves are probably celery that were removed from its bunch.

    Nice pictures and sensitive eyes. Reminding me of my rich Asian resource.

    May 15, 2009 | 5:07 pm


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