A New, If Slightly Pseudo, Fish Sauce Arrives | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

A New, If Slightly Pseudo, Fish Sauce Arrives

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A New, If Slightly Pseudo, Fish Sauce Arrives

Add oomph to your Asian-style cooking with a hekshered fish sauce.

Now that we have a hekshered fish sauce, remember that nam pla is not intended for sprinkling straight from the bottle onto food. It’s not like ketchup, Worcestershire sauce or tabasco, but more in the nature of tomato paste or hoisin sauce, to be used for cooking.

Because it's so assertive, you’d be smart to use fish sauce in conjunction with other ingredients that balance its robust personality: chili peppers, lime juice, cilantro, curry and garlic, for example.

You don’t, however, have to stick with Asian-style foods. Although nam pla may taste and feel most familiar in noodle salad, soups and curries, you can branch out and add some to marinades for meat, fish and poultry. You could also include a small amount in vinaigrette dressings for salad, sprinkle some into a chili pepper-based frittata or mix some into your favorite recipe for old-fashioned fish cakes. At a holiday party, or when watching football, consider adding a few drops to rev up your Bloody Mary.

Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author and cooking teacher in Stamford, Conn. Her latest book is Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com, and follow her on Twitter at @RonnieVFein.

Servings & Times
  • 6 servings
Active Time:
  • 15 min
Total Time:
  • 1 hr 15 min

For Chicken:

1 whole boneless chicken breast

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon honey


For Dressing:

1/4 cup fish sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil

6 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Cayenne pepper to taste, optional

1/2 cup chopped cashews, optional


For Salad:

8 ounces rice noodles, spaghetti or linguine shape

3 carrots, cut into julienne strips

2 stalks celery, cut into julienne strips

1 medium zucchini, cut into julienne strips

1 serrano pepper, deseeded and chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped

The stirfried chicken

  1. Cut the chicken into shreds and place in a bowl.
  2. Mix 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, fish sauce and honey in a small bowl. Pour over the chicken and toss the ingredients to coat the chicken completely. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Stirfry the chicken for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside to cool while you make the salad.
  4. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain the noodles and place them in a bowl.
  5. Add the carrots, celery, zucchini, Serrano pepper, cilantro, mint, garlic and chicken and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly.
  6. Combine the fish sauce, vegetable oil, lime juice, brown sugar and cayenne pepper in a bowl and whisk the ingredients to make the dressing.
  7. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss the ingredients. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.