What is Fish Sauce and How to Use It
By Sandy Leibowitz of The Kosher Tomato
Nam Pla, in Thai, is fish sauce. Without a doubt, it is stinky; but do not let that deter you from this awesome ingredient!
In Thai or Vietnamese cuisines, it is essentially their “salt and pepper”. You may be hesitant to add it to your cooking, but it adds such a dimension to the food, and cannot really be replaced. Think of it like a delicious Caesar dressing that has anchovy paste, which has that special something. Can you make Caesar dressing without it? Sure – but it just won’t taste the same.
The stinky aroma comes from the fermentation process. (Read more about the kosher process here). It is usually made with a mixture of salt and anchovies, but some are made from other types of fish; and even squid is used. It is fermented between 1 year to 18 months. The result is a rich, deep umami flavor that really enhances the dish.
*Mixing fish and meat is a minhag (custom) followed by many Jews. If you do follow this minhag, you can use vegetables or tofu for a delicious alternative
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