Once you’ve heard the name of this Cambodian specialty, little is left to the imagination. Upon first bite, diners discover ants of all sizes stir-fried among heaps of fresh herbs and thinly sliced beef. The insects add a tangy, sour pop to the savory, fragrant medley of chili, basil, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, and shallots. Lucky customers might even score some buttery ant larvae alongside their accompanying bowl of rice.
The best-known iteration of this dish is the brainchild of TREE Alliance. Members of this nonprofit organization train young people who’ve been living on the streets to become skilled hospitality industry professionals. With eight restaurants in Southeast Asia, TREE offers everyone, adventurous eaters or otherwise, the opportunity to dine for a righteous cause. And who knows—perhaps red ants in an otherwise-unassuming stir fry will help you segue into sampling some of Cambodia’s other bug-based delights. Tarantula samosas, anyone?