Make This: Thuk Prahok
Finch & Fork Chef Peter Cham’s Cambodian Dipping Sauce
Chef Peter Cham of Finch & Fork is hosting a special dinner to honor his Cambodian heritage on December 8, featuring a multicourse meal of such dishes as Prahok Ktiss (which is spicy pork belly with lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal, and coconut milk) and Noum Prajok (rice vermicelli noodles with shredded cabbage, herbs, Khmer chicken curry, and pickled chilis). The December 8 dinner starts at 7 p.m. and costs $55, which also covers a welcome drink from bartender George Piperis. Wine/beer pairing is also available.
To learn more about Cambodian food, we asked Cham to provide a recipe for Thuk Prahok, a chili, garlic, and herb dipping sauce. “This riff on a classic Cambodian condiment can be used on a wide range of grilled meats and vegetables,” said Cham. “It is deliciously tangy, garlicky, herbaceous, spicy, and has depth and umami coming from the prahok.” The latter ingredient is a salty fermented fish paste commonly found in Cambodian cuisine. Cham spoons this sauce on everything from grilled beef and fried fish to raw vegetables. “Try this recipe out with some grilled and sliced skirt steak plated up with lettuce, thinly sliced cucumbers, julienned carrots, and daikon, to serve up a fresh and vibrant ‘build-your-own’ lettuce-wrap meal,” he suggested.
To make two cups of sauce, put two sliced shallots and three sliced garlic cloves into a mortar or food processor. Crush into a paste and then add one tablespoon of prahok (or substitute with salt-packed anchovies) to the mix. Next, add one Fresno chile and one jalapeño, and crush into the chunky mix. Lastly, add Thai bird chile (if you want it very spicy) as well as the juice of three limes, one lemon, one teaspoon of fish sauce, and half a bunch of sawtooth herb (or cilantro works too). Add salt if needed, and serve immediately, or store refrigerated for up to 72 hours.