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A Recipe for a Cambodian Dip Redolent of Childhood

Daniel Hautzinger
Prahok Ktiss from Khmai Fine Dining in Chicago's Rogers Park
Prahok Ktiss reminds Mona Sang, the chef and owner of Khmai Fine Dining in Rogers Park, of childhood. Photo: WTTW/Kathleen Hinkel

Mona Sang, the chef and owner of Khmai Fine Dining in Rogers Park, used to hate when her mother made pork and fish dip prahok ktiss when she was a child, because it made her clothes smell like prahok, a fermented fish paste. But now it reminds her of childhood and is one of her favorite dishes, as she told WTTW while sharing her mother's story and how it inspired her to open one of the only Cambodian restaurants in Chicago. 

Try her and her mother's recipe below. She advises that many of the ingredients can be found at Tai Nam Market on Argyle Street in Uptown. 

Prahok Ktiss


1 tbsp of oil
2 cups of lemongrass paste (lemongrass, garlic, shallots, lime leaf, and galangal, mixed in a blender)
2 cups of red chili paste (non-spicy)
2 pounds of ground pork
4 tbsps sugar
3 tbsps chicken powder
1/3 cup of fish sauce
1 cup of prahok (fermented fish)
3 cups of water
1 1/2 cans coconut milk
Fresh vegetables for dipping


1. Mix oil, lemongrass paste, and red chili paste in a pot over heat. Stir occasionally, until light brown.

2. Add ground pork and heat for 3 minutes, until everything is well combined with the pork.

3. Add sugar, chicken powder, fish sauce, prahok, water, and coconut milk. Mix and let simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Serve as a dip with fresh vegetables.