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Unique to Cambodian cuisine, prahoc is a popular fish-based condiment, made by fermenting whole fish, or chunks of fish, with ground rice and salt. Extremely pungent and, perhaps, more offensive-smelling than the Vietnamese mam tom, this potent sauce is essential in Cambodian cooking. Once added to dishes, it mellows in odor and enhances the flavor of the other ingredients. The most common fish used to make this condiment are mud fish, grey featherback and gouramy. Jars of prahoc are available in Asian stores. A small jar will go a long way and keep for months. Generally, prahoc is not used directly from the jra; a small amount is diluted in boiling water and strained. The strained liquid is called tuk prahoc, which is used in practically every Cambodian savory dish.


Making Tuk Prahoc

In a small pan, bring 250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup water to the boil. Reduce the heat and add roughly 30 ml/2 tablespoons of prahoc from the jar. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, until the fish has broken down and the water is cloudy. Strain the fish through a sieve set over a bowl to extract the liquid, pressing down on the fish. Strain the liquid one more time, through a piece of muslin (cheesecloth), to make sure it is running clear. Leave it to cool and store in an airtight container in a cool place.