Add Depth to Almost Any Fish Sauce Dish

Fish sauce is commonly associated with certain forms of Asian cuisine, but it can add depth to many dishes without making them fishy.

I originally stumbled upon this advice while reading Edward Lee’s fantastic cookbook Smoke and Pickles . In it, he suggests that using just a few drops of fish sauce will add depth and umami enhancement to just about any sauce or gravy you make. And he’s right. This technique is used not only in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Many Italian red sauces start with a little melted anchovy to achieve a similar effect. And most of us gave up the Worcestershire dash for the same reason.

But fish sauce adds quality even to those who are left alone. As Edward Lee put it:

I describe it as adding age or adding history to a dish, just as bourbon and cheese get better with age.

So give it a try. And don’t worry. For most sauces, you only need a little and they won’t be fishy at all.

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