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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sweet, sugary coconut: sampling the desserts of Orussey Market

Cambodian akor with raw coconut, served in a polystyrene carton
Cambodian akor with raw coconut, served in a polystyrene carton. Charlotte Pert

Sweet, sugary coconut: sampling the desserts of Orussey Market

You would be forgiven for walking straight past the dessert stalls at Orussey Market. Ly Kim Hong’s is particularly hidden. Located on the east side and tucked away in a corner, 10 metres or so from the entrance, are piles of gloopy-looking, fluorescent-coloured banana and pumpkin cakes. Next to them lie polystyrene cartons which spill with nom akor.

Cambodian nom akor are sweet, perfectly rounded balls that look like giant gnocchi. They are made from rice powder and come in two different varieties. The first are simple, with raw, shaved coconut and sesame seeds sprinkled on top. Boiled coconut is poured over the second kind, which are also adorned with shavings of jackfruit. The dish is eaten for breakfast, dessert or as an afternoon snack.

Kim Hong, who is originally from Vietnam, has been selling them for 10 years. They are made by her daughter, who puts each ball into a small cup to achieve the right size and shape, and steams the cups together in a huge pot of water for half an hour to an hour. Each carton, containing about eight nom akor, costs 3,500 riel.

Pot teuk kom bou: sweetcorn with sugar and coconut
Pot teuk kom bou: sweetcorn with sugar and coconut. Charlotte Pert

Both kinds are treats to the tastebuds: in akor with raw coconut, the moisture holding the rice balls together more than makes up for the dry flakes. Nom akor with boiled coconut and jackfruit, on the other hand, is more filling, and a little sickly.

Around 50 metres to the north is Kang Vutthy’s bicycle, from which she sells pot teuk kom bou, another sweet consisting of sweetcorn with coconut and sugar. Vutthy has sold pot teuk kom bou from the same bike for 14 years: “I can move it easily!” she said, laughing as she scraped the inside of a coconut with the sharp edges of a beer bottle cap to extract its insides.

Like nom akor, pot teuk kom bou comes in two different varieties, each priced at 1,000 riel. The sweetcorn is boiled for one hour, before being mixed with lime powder and boiled for another hour. It is served up in a plastic bag with sugar and coconut shavings sprinkled on top. For the other kind, the corn is squashed, along with sugar, sesame and coconut, with a pestle and mortar. Despite the unattractive appearance, it’s pretty tasty.

Most of Vutthy’s customers are here to buy cobs of corn. They’re missing out.
Additional reporting by Vandy Muong.

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