Fish sauce is a powerful, intensely flavoured ingredient ready to add a savoury flavour boost to your cooking! When used with care, this staple seasoning will transform your dish with its uniquely delicious umami kick. Have a bottle in the pantry? It’s time to learn how to use fish sauce in a range of recipes like salads, stir fries, soups and more.
What is fish sauce? How is it made?
Fish sauce is a staple Asian seasoning most commonly associated with South East Asian cuisines, but can also pop up across other cultures too. The pungent, fishy-smelling liquid is made through a process of fermenting small fish (such as anchovies) in sea salt. They’re left in barrels to ferment from a few months up to a few years, where, over time, they start to break down and release the concentrated, intensely-flavoured liquid we know and love.
In appearance, fish sauce is usually a dark reddish brown liquid that is clear, without any sediment.
Is it healthy?
Fish sauce is (unsurprisingly) high in salt, so it’s best used in moderation. However, using fish sauce instead of regular salt in cooking can be a great way to reduce the amount of sodium in a dish while still boosting flavour. It’s naturally high in protein and iron, and low in baddies like cholesterol and saturated fat.
What does fish sauce taste and smell like?
On it’s own, fish sauce tastes and smells like fish and salt. It has a very strong flavour of fish, but not in an “off” or rotten way. Unless you have very curious tastebuds we’d never recommend trying fish sauce on it’s own, but when blended with other ingredients it adds a delicious savoury flavour that isn’t overly “fishy” in the final dish.
You don’t necessarily have to cook it either, fish sauce can be used to made delicious dipping sauces and marinades as well as be added to cooked dishes like stir fries and curries.
Can fish sauce go bad?
Fish sauce can sometimes change colour and flavour as it ages in the bottle, but as long as there is no mould or strange smell, it should be fine to continue to use in cooking.
What can I use instead of fish sauce?
The most common substitute for fish sauce is soy sauce, which will give similar salty kick.
Are fish sauce and soy sauce the same?
Both sauces are similar in how they are both made through fermentation and rely on salt to kick start the process. Fish sauce is a reddish brown colour while soy sauce is a dark brown colour.
Since fish sauce is made from anchovies, it’s not suitable for vegan diets. Soy sauce, on the other hand, is made from soybeans and wheat, so it’s a great alternative for vegans.
Fish sauce vs oyster sauce – what’s the difference?
There are just two ingredients in fish sauce – anchovies and salt, while oyster sauce is made from oyster extracts, sugar, salt and thickened soy sauce. Oyster sauce is much sweeter than fish sauce, it’s also darker in colour and less salty in flavour.
15 Mouth-Watering Fish Sauce Recipe Ideas
Soups & stews
Salads and dipping sauces
Other delicious creations
These recipes are sure to help you find new and exciting ways to use up your shiny bottle of fish sauce. All you need to do now is decide: Which recipe will you try first?
And if you’ve already tried one or more of these tasty dishes, let us know how it turned out in the comments!
Looking for MORE delicious ingredient ideas to use up those condiments in the cupboard? Try these:
- 15 Ways to Use Gochujang – Korean Chilli Paste
- Beyond India: 13 Asian Curries To Rev Up Your Spice Addiction
- 12 Incredibly Healthy Recipes Using Miso Paste… Including Dessert!