Fish Paste Factory, Battambang, Cambodia

Fish drying on the ground
Less a factory and more a generations old community undertaking, the fish paste factory is something to see.  Immediately upon crossing the bridge the pungent odor of rotting fish fills the air.  And after 30 minutes exploring, that smell seems to permeate your nostrils for the next couple hours.

Fish paste is a important component to most Khmer cooking.  Not entirely sure why but apparently it adds a lovely flavor.  The short and sweet of it is that it's basically dried fish left fermenting in order to break down to a sort of puree.  Done in a sealed factory it may not be so bad, but open air (and open to bugs) is really something!

Vats of fish paste left to ferment
Not exactly pleasant but someone has to do it!  It was fascinating to see what constitutes a "factory" and I would say it's worth the time to check out next time you are in Cambodia.  But if you don't like the smell of rotting fish, you may feel entirely different about this one...

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