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Favorite way to use fish sauce?

l
lexpatti Jun 7, 2010 03:04 PM

I want to use this more often, how do you use it?

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  1. greygarious Jun 7, 2010 03:21 PM

    Proceed with caution! After reading about adding it to tomato-based meat pasta sauce to boost umami, I added just a bit to a pot, and did not like the result. The next day the sauce tasted better, but it was not an improvement over my standard basic pasta sauce. Supposedly, fish sauce needs no refrigeration but since I use it rarely, I do keep it there. It lasts indefinitely, so I don't feel a need to use it up, unlike many other opened condiment jars and bottles living in my fridge!

    I suppose I'd suggest using it in combination with soy sauce - subbing it for not more than a quarter of the soy or teriyaki sauce you'd be using in a given stir fry recipe or marinade..

    5 Replies
    1. re: greygarious
      Bada Bing Jun 8, 2010 10:29 AM

      Actually, I'm starting to doubt that it lasts forever. My bottle of Three Crabs brand was transluscent amber when I bought it a couple years ago, but I've noticed lately that it is not only opaque and coffee colored now (like cheaper Squid and Tiparos brands) but also distinctly less powerful in fragrance. I need a new bottle, because I no longer trust it to work in the ways that I value.

      By the way, I am among those who swear by adding it to tomato sauces, both from fresh and canned. When you say you added just a bit, how much? I would say that for a single dinner for four with red sauce pasta, I wouldn't use more than about a half teaspoon. For me, the effect should not be recognizable as fish sauce. Also, I find that it needs to cook out for at least 5 minutes or so in this application.

      1. re: Bada Bing
        n
        NO SLICE Jun 8, 2010 03:13 PM

        Yeah you should definitely refrigerate it because it will increase the shelf life, there's actually a video about it on Chowhound. I thought the same thing until I saw the video yesterday.

        1. re: NO SLICE
          Bada Bing Jun 8, 2010 03:43 PM

          I think saw that video, too, which got me thinking more clearly about this. But did they say anything about refrigeration?

          1. re: Bada Bing
            WhatThePho Jun 8, 2010 03:51 PM

            "Refrigerate for up to 9 months." Crystallization and discoloration are the signs of age that she mentions.

            1. re: WhatThePho
              Bada Bing Jun 8, 2010 04:21 PM

              Thanks.

    2. onceadaylily Jun 7, 2010 04:09 PM

      I can tell you how I *would* use it, if I could ever find it in my area: spicy noodles. I have a love of them, especially in the summer, that makes me want to make them in my own kitchen, but every recipe that sounds remotely close to what I am looking for has fish sauce in it. The minute I lay my hands on a jar, I'm going to tackle Singapore noodles.

      1 Reply
      1. re: onceadaylily
        onceadaylily Jun 7, 2010 04:38 PM

        And, apparently, I can't permalink worth a good damn, so look up 'Fish sauce for sneaky umami effect', if you haven't seen that thread already.

      2. Chemicalkinetics Jun 7, 2010 05:22 PM

        I am not an expert of Vietnamese cuisine, but I find the fish sauce quite versatile. Anything you use for soy sauce, you can substitute with fish sauce.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
          d
          dmd_kc Jun 8, 2010 09:38 PM

          It isn't a sub for soy sauce to my palate, or at least not 1:1. It's vastly more powerful stuff than standard soy sauce, and I don't think it would substitute most of the time. It would be vile as a primary ingredient in something like fried rice, I think.

          I like to think of it as liquid anchovies (which it is, essentially). It can punch up the depth of all sorts of stews, braises and soups -- but as graygarious says, it's surprisingly easy to overdo it and allow it to announce its presence, even to people who aren't expecting it. I snuck some into a chili one time, and one friend asked, "Is this fish chili?" He was right -- there was too much.

          Acid balances it -- hence its most famous use in nuoc cham. One of my best friends is Vietnamese, and even he wrinkles his nose at people who douse their pho with big glugs of it. I think it's the very definition of an acquired taste on its own.

          1. re: dmd_kc
            Chemicalkinetics Jun 8, 2010 11:57 PM

            You are right. Fish sauce certainly has a stronger and more unique favor than soy sauce. Substituting one for another will not produce the same effect. I know people marinate steak with soy sauce, but fish sauce subsitution will have a very different effect here.

            Although they don't taste alike, I think fish sauce is often used in places (by Vietnamese) of where soy sauce would (by Chinese). Whereas Chinese often use soy sauce as a major ingredient in their dipping sauces, Vietnamese use fish sauce like the Nuoc cham.

            It is actually quiet common for Vietnamese to use fish sauce in their fried rice. Actually, I don't think most Chinese use soy sauce in their fried rice. Instead, they simply use salt. Japanese fried rice actually uses soy sauce more.

            http://www.vietnamese-recipes.com/vietnamese-recipes/rice-noodles/vietnamese-fried-rice.php

            http://simplyvietnamese.wordpress.com...

        2. shanagain Jun 7, 2010 05:32 PM

          I make a steak sauce that "needs" the fish sauce for depth of flavor.

          4 Replies
          1. re: shanagain
            j
            Jane917 Jun 7, 2010 05:35 PM

            Many people claim the secret to good vinagrette is a dash of fish sauce.

            1. re: Jane917
              shanagain Jun 7, 2010 05:39 PM

              I'll have to try that. There's something subversive about me.. I like to sneak "odd" ingredients into things.

              1. re: Jane917
                l
                Lady_Tenar Jun 8, 2010 11:26 AM

                Ooh, I like that idea!

                Personally, I like to add a dash to braised greens and also to hearty beef stews.

                1. re: Lady_Tenar
                  WhatThePho Jun 8, 2010 02:54 PM

                  lol@ shanagain

                  Maybe in Caesar as a quick anchovy sub!

            2. porker Jun 7, 2010 05:42 PM

              Dissolve about 3 TBL sugar into 1/2C warm water.
              Add about 3 TBL fish sauce, stir.
              Chop 2 cloves garlic and 1-3 bird eye peppers. Kinda mash the pepper and garlic, add to mix, stir well.
              Cool.
              Can be used as a dipping sauce, marinade, or salad dressing.

              2 Replies
              1. re: porker
                r
                rockycat Jun 8, 2010 11:14 AM

                That's basically nuoc cham. You can vary the proportions some to suit your taste. I love using it as a salad dressing. Add a tablespoon or so of oil for a vinaigrette effect.

                1. re: rockycat
                  WhatThePho Jun 8, 2010 02:55 PM

                  second the salad dressing!! :) also use nuoc cham as a dipping sauce for spicy chicken wings, potstickers, and crusty french bread. so so good.

              2. j
                joonjoon Jun 8, 2010 09:36 AM

                Fish sauce makes a great addition to salad dressings, is awesome in all meat marinades, and I also love using it with vinegar/lime/chili/etc for a dipping sauce for anything fried. It's great with fried fish.

                1. b
                  bizkat Jun 8, 2010 09:47 AM

                  I've use fish sauce as a marinade for grilled chicken. Here's the recipe:

                  http://blog.washingtonpost.com/mighty...

                  1. v
                    VikingKvinna Jun 8, 2010 10:17 AM

                    I use it in Caesar dressing, in place of the anchovies. Can't remember where I heard this tip, but I swear by it now. I'm not a measuring type of gal, but I put a couple of good squirts into a hand blender container with two cloves of garlic, EVOO and lemon juice. Whiz, then add some parmesan cheese. I *know* it's not authentic, but it's delish and my new default dressing.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: VikingKvinna
                      krisrishere Jun 8, 2010 10:29 AM

                      I never thought of this! I'm stealing your tip :)

                      1. re: VikingKvinna
                        WhatThePho Jun 8, 2010 02:55 PM

                        lol oops.. should've read the whole thread..

                      2. ipsedixit Jun 8, 2010 10:27 AM

                        If you are not working with top quality ground meat, mix it into your hamburger patty.

                        1. eight_inch_pestle Jun 8, 2010 03:08 PM

                          There's a basic sauce that is nothing more than a (I think) 2:1 ratio of fish sauce to minced bird chiles. Keeps forever in the fridge and adds a rocking hit of salt, funk, and heat to tons of dishes. I'll have it on plain jasmine rice or fresh wide rice noodles for lunch. It's in the condiments section of Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet if you want to confirm the proportions (I'm out and about at the moment and my home internet is dead for some reason).

                          1. a
                            appycamper Jun 8, 2010 06:50 PM

                            i add it to the field pea salads and pasta salads i make in warm weather. dh likes to dip hardboiled eggs in it, then in ground pepper.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: appycamper
                              WhatThePho Jun 8, 2010 08:28 PM

                              ooh... those are three of my favorite things ever. :) And they gross most of my accomplices out, so, no competition!!

                            2. b
                              BKK Brendan Jun 9, 2010 12:11 AM

                              Tiparos fish sauce is my favorite store bought brand. It has a yellow label with a red circle on it. It is absolutely fantastic on fried rice. Put it on at the table after cooking the rice and stir it in. That's the only thing I ever use fish sauce for, but it's a perfect addition to it.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: BKK Brendan
                                r
                                rockycat Jun 9, 2010 06:57 AM

                                I think if you accidentally poured nuoc cham on the table, I'd eat the table. That stuff can make anything edible!

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