Desserts: Akauw, akauv, akaur in Cambodia
One of the worse fates that I’ll be consigning to this website is that I will never be able to review all of the multitudinous variations of Cambodian rice flour desserts. When you eat one type, four new ones return to take its place. It’s like battling a saccharine Hydra made from pudding.

At the moment, akauw are a favorite: simple steamed balls of sticky rice flour, coconut milk and a little palm sugar topped with shredded coconut and toasted sesame seeds (occasionally, crushed peanuts), served at room temperature. When they’re good, they tread a fine line between cake-y and rubbery. Either way, they are offensively more-ish.


My regular aisle-way vendor at the Russian Market ( Psar Tuol Tom Poung) who presented them in photogenic banana leaf cups hit the provinces over the Pchum Benh religious holiday and returned to Phnom Penh with a surplus of Styrofoam clamshells. Damn you, modernity.

1000 riel (US$0.25) for a punnet

Location: In the aisles of Russian Market, just north of the food court. If she is around, the easiest way to find this vendor is to walk along the northern edge of the market and enter through the entrance with the rice sellers near it. Then head due south. Otherwise, akauw vendors can be found at most of the larger markets.

5 thoughts on “Akauw”

  1. This might be a remark that will only interest people like me but for a long time (actually before I came here) i though and was told that rice could not be used with yeast as it contains no gluten. The cool thing with “akao” (sorry for the French phonetic) is that it proofs using a rice flour starter (same as the “pao”, the waffles.) That also explains why “akao” or “pao” can be a little bit sour at the end of the day…

    Here is a good recipe: mix up 250g rice flour with 400g coconut milk and 5 g dry yeast (to make sure your “akao” won’t become sour…) and let rest for one hour. Add 150 g of sugar, a pinch of salt, pour in cups and steam for 25 minutes.

    A good “akao” should split very neatly on the top. Then it is called “noum akao srey.” There is a French sweet called “gaufrette” (2 thin wafers stuffed with raspberry jam) and both cakes are also related to a certain part of the women anatomy.

  2. Jo – At a guess, there is enough sugar in the coconut milk to act as a starter, so the mixture will start converting the rice starch to sugars (saccharification(?)). There is a Japanese sweetener (mizuame) that is made from glutinous rice using a malt starter, so it might be a similar process. I’ll try to find someone with a hardcore brewing background to find out.

  3. Oooh I love these kinds of desserts… I had some lovely different variations in Sihanoukville, can’t seem to find them in Toul Tom Poung though…

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