Made from freshwater fishes such as snakeskin gournami, climbing gournami, snakehead, Bo hoc fermented fish (Mam bo hoc, Pro hok) – a traditional food of Khmer people. Mam bo hoc – one of the specialty foods of Tra Vinh originated in Cambodia. In the past, in the rainy season they catch a lot of fishes and could not eat all of them. Otherwise, in the dry season, there is no fish. So that they created the Bo hoc fermented fish recipe. Poor Cambodian people usually eat steamed rice with this kind of food. For a long years, Mam bo hoc has played an important part in Cambodian cuisine as well as cuisine of Khmer people in South Vietnam.
It needs many steps to make Bo hoc fermented fish. Prepare fishes, remove their heads, mix the fishes with salt for a few hours, dry these fishes under the sun until dry, marinate them with sugar, black pepper, garlic. Press the marinated fishes with anything heavy to drain off. Wash the fishes again with salt water, arrange a layer of fishes, a layer of cooled steamed rice, a layer of salt, etc. into a terracotta jar. The portion of fishes to steamed rice and salt is 2 fishes : 1 steamed rice : 2 salt. Mam bo hoc will be ready after 4-6 months. This kind of fermented fish is not as nice-looking as other Vietnamese fermented fishes. However, it smells less strong than the others.
Mam bo hoc is used to cook many traditional dishes such as Num bo choc rice noodle soup (Bun num bo choc), Nuoc leo noodle soup (Bun nuoc leo), Rice noodle soup with fermented fish (Bun mam), etc. Num bo choc rice noodle soup is an authentic dish of Khmer cuisine. Similar to other kinds of rice noodle soups in Vietnam, Bun num bo choc consists of the broth, rice noodles, veggies and dipping sauce. Ingredients for this dish are snakehead, pro hok, kaffir lime, fingerroot, lemongrass. All of the above ingredients are used to cook a sweet, salty, sour broth. The rice noodle soup is served with various vegetables such as banana blossom, morning glory, cucumber, bean sprouts, water lily stem, yardlong bean, etc.
Dinners are attracted by the clear broth and various toppings of famous Bun nuoc leo of Khmer people. Bo hoc fermented fish is the key ingredient for the broth. They use the juice from the mixture of kneaded snakehead bones, minced lemongrass, and fingerroot to cook the broth so that the broth is very clear. The dish is topped with roasted pork, snakehead flesh, shrimp. Vegetables, herbs and fish sauce with chili pepper.
A very delicious dish from Mam bo hoc is Fried pork/beef with Bo hoc fermented fish. Pork/beef is ground, then mixed with Mam bo hoc, form into flat pieces, fried until pleasant. This fried dish served with cucumber or steamed rice, eggplant. Instead of frying, they can wrap the mixture of ground pork/beef and Bo hoc fermented fish in banana leaves, then grill. Another way to eat Mam bo hoc is pounding it with lemongrass, green apple eggplant, chili pepper, lime juice to make a great dipping sauce.