What Is Fish Sauce

What Is Fish Sauce

Few ingredients carry as much fast, show-stopping taste to a dish as fish sauce does. It's candy, salty, fishy, and enjoyableky abruptly, a prismatic tsunami of flavor. But...what is fish sauce? We've all had it in some unspecified time in the future or another whether or not we knew it or not—pad thai, anyone?—however that doesn't imply we know what's in it.

Well...fish, actually. Fish sauce lives up to the name. It does, as advertised, derive most of its taste from fish, but you don't just smack a fish round and out plops a bottle of fish sauce. The real taste comes from the process of fermenting fish for wherever from a couple months to a couple years. Small fish like anchovies are coated in salt and packed in giant barrels to hold out. The natural bacterias begin to break down the fish, producing a briny, fishy, savory liquid. That, buddies, is fish sauce.

Fermentation has been used for 1000's of years to develop flavor in anything from fish to meat to beans to vegetables. Many cultures use or have used a fermented fish sauce, from the Greeks to the Chinese, however we most commonly affiliate it with Southeast Asian cooking. It provides one of many driving flavors in dishes like larb, Vietnamese marinated meats, green papaya salad, and stir-fries, as well as pad thai.

We love the flavor of fish sauce for its umami, the earthy, savory taste subject that makes things like mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and soy sauce style so complex and crave-able. There’s a definite, pungent fishiness to the sauce, certain, however that taste is flanked by a salty, briny, caramel-y sweetness. It’s an ingredient that offers you a little bit of everything when thrown into marinades, stir-fries, and salad dressings, and it's just as useful in non-Asian cooking too. A little fish sauce can increase salty, savory taste in sautéed greens, pastas, roast chicken, or broths. Typically speaking, we're down to experiment with a dash of fish sauce at any time when we might in any other case add salt. It’s aggressively flavorful although, so make sure you add just a bit at a time and taste as you go. A little goes a long way.

When it comes to purchasing fish sauce, there are hundreds of varieties on the market, and when you head to an Asian market you’ll be able to seek out more regionally-specific brands and variations.

Like most things, fish sauce takes a minute to get to know, and when you know what fish sauce is you are ready to get that relationship going. Hang out with it. Invite it to dinner. Experiment with completely different proteins and vegetables. And crack a beer while you’re at it. Your fish sauce mateship is blossoming. What a fantastic time to be alive.

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