Fish sauce is a marvel of Thai food.
In the beginning I was shy.
Nowadays though, I’m an indiscriminate, joyful user. I have observed the progression of other Westerners getting hooked as well. For example, my mother. She visits regularly and has to be reminded to share the little pot of it that comes on the table in a restaurant. Granted these are small pots but they are intended to be shared. If more than one person is dining with my mother and me, we will need to request seconds.
Fish sauce is fermented anchovies, salt and maybe water and maybe a bit of sugar, depending on the producer. At least that’s all you want it to be. So, it can replace Worcester sauce or anchovies in just about any dish.
It smells way more fishier than it actually tastes when used as a condiment or seasoning agent. So, if the aroma of the plain liquid has turned you off, I urge you to stick with it. Rewards await.
Fish sauce adds instant depth of flavor wherever it’s applied.
Thinking about health, it has the nutritional benefits of any fermented food item, so it is going to improve the biodiversity of your gut micro-biome, which is where, as Dr Mercola informs us, 85% of our immune power resides. Also, fish sauce is made out of the entire fish, so it is filled with lots of useful B vitamins and minerals.
Some people may be concerned with adding more sodium to their cooking, however, actually, using fish sauce may reduce the amount of refined sodium you consume while providing healthier benefits. The idea that salt is bad comes from the notion that it may increase blood pressure and cause an increase risk of heart attack or stroke. Dr Mercola, however points to a study that shows fish sauce may actually help to lower blood pressure.
One of my favorite uses for it is as secret flavoring ingredient in homemade onion dip. (It eliminates the need for MSG-injected flavor packets.)
Other useful non-Asian places to drizzle fish sauce include:
– Impromptu Caesar salad dressing, when you don’t have any anchovy in reach, stir some into mayo with a bit of lemon, tabasco sauce and garlic. Or try this interesting Beet Shiso Salad which makes us of fish sauce in the dressing.
– Pasta/pizza bolognese sauce
– Pad Thai popcorn. Seriously. Wow.
– Bloody Mary
Definitely though the most frequent way I use fish sauce is also the simplest. I share it with you here because it is just too easy and delicious not to try for yourself. It is teenager-approved in my household, and I have even been known to serve it to guests on the porch as an appetizer with toothpicks and a glass of red wine at the end of the day before moving on to dinner.
These are good hot or at room temperature.
- 2 cups cruciferous veggies, like one or a combo of broccoli, cauliflower and/or Brussel sprouts cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 tbsp good quality olive or extra virgin coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
Place veggies on a sheet pan and toss with preferred oil. Sprinkle and toss with fish sauce.
Roast for 15 minutes, stir them around a bit, then continue to roast for up to 10 more minutes. You are looking for some crispy singed edges and caramelization. It can be a close call between getting to this point and burning them though, so be sure to watch them closely after you stir them.
Remove and enjoy.