Your Boxed Mac And Cheese Is Missing A Fishy Ingredient

Sure, a box of instant mac and cheese is convenient, cheap, comforting, and eternally popular, but if you reach for it too often you can feel like you're stuck in a rut. Luckily, there are plenty of hacks for making boxed mac and cheese better, and people are coming up with new ideas all the time. For instance, you might add a sweet ingredient to your mac and cheese, like brown sugar. Simple, yes, strange, maybe — but game-changing. In much the same way, you might consider adding fish sauce to your mac and cheese. 

While a bit unusual, fish sauce helps boost umami flavors in countless dishes, so why not try it with mac and cheese? It adds an extra layer of savory flavor that enhances the cheesiness. All you need is a single teaspoon of fish sauce to upgrade your pasta. Limiting the amount also helps to avoid any unpleasant fishy flavor, so you can add a bit of complexity without overwhelming the flavor of the mac and cheese.

Fish sauce is made from a combination of salted fermented fish mixed with more salt, and a little sugar. So if you decide to use fish sauce in your next bowl of mac and cheese, keep in mind that you'll want to cut back on how much salt you add. 

More fun ways to add a fishy flavor to your mac and cheese

On days you have a little more time to experiment with mac and cheese recipes, get creative with how you incorporate fish sauce or other fishy ingredients. For instance, you can also try adding Worcestershire sauce, as it's made with anchovies and therefore also lends dishes a salty taste. The vinegar in the sauce adds an acidic edge, and the sugar lends a touch of sweetness. 

If you want to make the flavor pop even more, try adding fish sauce and Ac'cent flavor enhancer, which will help to kick start the fish sauce's contribution. Ac'cent is basically MSG, which previously had a bad reputation due to some misunderstandings but is having a culinary revival. The resulting dish is packed with umami flavors, and MSG actually has less sodium than table salt, so if you're watching your sodium, this might be the way to go.

Adding fish sauce to your mac and cheese, surprisingly enough, might not make the dish too fish-forward after all, and might just add the indefinable savory kick needed to elevate a box of mac and cheese from the humdrum to the fantastic.