Stronger after a fishy history

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Ny comes from a family of fishermen, and she has always sold fish. However, during the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, all businesses came screeching to a halt. Ny was forced to go to the countryside to labour in the fields. Meanwhile, scholars and artists were shot.

When Ny described how  everyone had to wear black clothes under the Khmer Rouge, I looked around and appreciated the cheerful fashion that reigns in the markets today.

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This is prahok. It is fermented fish that is preserved.

Ny’s market speciality is prahok, a spicy fish that is fermented for as long as a year. This classic cuisine is shaped by necessity: the preserved fish provides a reliable source of protein during the dry season.

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Ny is one resilient woman. She described numerous downfalls besides the Khmer Rouge, and more recently how she lost all her savings to irresponsible family members.

With more markets popping up in the city, Ny is taking measures to stay competitive and relevant. She says her strategy is to present her food more nicely. She is also proud of her unique value proposition that customers recognize: her special family recipe for prahok.

Dried fish at a market in Cambodia - ShopkeeperStories,com

Dried fish at a market in Cambodia


Shopkeeper Stories is a photo-documentary of small business owners and their trades around the world, sharing their insights, stories and views. You can see all the posts on Instagram and Facebook @ShopkeeperStories


 

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