Why You Should Consider Keeping Fish Sauce In Your Pantry

According to Bon Appétit, fish sauce is a liquid condiment that's made by fermenting fish in a process that can last from a few months to a few years. Fish sauce is really made using smaller fish such as anchovies that are first rubbed with salt and then placed into large barrels. Once packed in the barrels, the natural bacterias soon start to disintegrate the fish into a salty and savory liquid with an intense fishy flavor. The flavor is packed with umami and a distinctive pungent fishiness that's contrasted by the salty and caramel-like sweetness. 

Fish sauce is typically associated with Southeast Asian cuisine, and it's used with a variety of foods and dishes such as stir-fries, marinades, pad thai, and salad dressings. There are many regionally-specific versions of fish sauce, but it's believed that the best ones come from Thailand and Vietnam. However, even if you're not living in Southeast Asia or don't like to prepare Asian dishes, there's a pretty good reason to keep fish sauce in your pantry.

The magical versatility of fish sauce

Country Living asked chefs to share one thing that they should always have in the pantry, and chef Daniel England of San Diego's OMG Hospitality Group is all for the fish sauce. He says that even though the fish sauce is most commonly used in Asian dishes, it can really be used in anything else because "it adds everything you need to a dish! Sweet, salty, fishy, tangy. It's really a mouthful explosion of flavor." The sauce can offer a ittle something extra to veggies such as cucumbers, but it also works well with marinades for meats like fish or poultry. 

England likes to mix it with noodles and rice, and he even tried it on fried chicken, with surprisingly tasty results. He does warn not to overdo it — due to the fact that fish sauce is quite aggressive in its flavors. It's recommended to add just a dash of it to your dishes and use it as a replacement for salt (via Bon Appétit). If you're not ready to try this condiment just yet, here are Mashed's 7 best substitutes for fish sauce.