How to Make Khmer Red Ant Beef Salad

A Wok Around Asia Recipe by Chef Chanrith Van of Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap Resort

I can legitimately say that I’ve never looked at an ant (red or otherwise) and wondered what it would taste like. Nonetheless, I wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity to try it during my visit to Siem Reap, where it was served as part of a carpaccio-like rare beef salad.

Check out the video, which includes Chef Chanrith Van’s explanation of the use of red ants in Cambodian cooking >>

Khmer Red Ant Beef Salad


100g aged beef or eye fillet
¼ tsp fresh black peppercorns
1 pinch salt
1 cup olive oil (alt – corn oil, sunflower oil)
50g finely julienned kailan (Chinese broccoli) stem, soaked in ice water
5g pennywort leaves
5g watercress
10g red ants, fried
2 Tbsp Koh Kong dressing
10g red, yellow, pink needle flower


  1. Season beef with salt for 5 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 tsp oil to very high heat and sear quickly on both sides to rare. Rest beef for 5 minutes.
  3. Clean wok, add oil and heat to 170C. Fry red ants until crispy.
  4. Remove ants and drain on paper towels.
  5. Clean wok, add oil and heat to very high temperature again; return beef to wok and sear to medium rare. Set aside.
  6. Remove kailan from iced water and pat dry on paper towels.
  7. Slice beef very thinly (carpaccio-style) and arrange on plate.
  8. Top with one tablespoon of koh kong sauce.
  9. Toss kailan with another tablespoon of sauce, then arrange on the middle of the plate.
  10. Garnish with flowers, pennywort and watercress.
  11. Sprinkle with crispy red ant, then serve.

Koh Kong Sauce


70g red large chillies, deseeded, chopped
7 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bird’s eye chili, chopped
80g white sugar
20ml white vinegar
70ml fish sauce
46ml fresh lime juice
40g sweet chili sauce
3g fine salt


  1. Pound chillies and garlic into a rough paste with a mortar and pestle.
  2. Add all the other ingredients, mix well, then transfer into a bowl.


My Wok Around Asia Siem Reap trip was made possible through the support of the following –


Rode Mic

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