We think every merchant we work with for Provisions is special -- but when we find one with a great story, we'll be featuring them here. Because we want to tell the world about our favorite makers.
Today: Take a peek behind the scenes of Red Boat Fish Sauce, bringing small-batch, artisan fish sauce and salt from Vietnam, and learn how to put it to work in your kitchen.
A cooking mantra we believe in is: Start with the highest quality ingredients, and you'll end up with the highest quality products -- and that's Red Boat Fish Sauce in a nutshell.
The inspiration behind it all? Owner Cuong Pham was raised in Vietnam on spicy, bold, umami-rich flavors. He later moved to the United States, but couldn't find any version of bottled fish sauce that approached the deep, intense taste of the nước mắm nhi (fish sauce) he remembered.
Taking matters into his own hands, he tapped into generations-old artisan traditions of making fish sauce in Phu Quoc, an island off the coast of Vietnam. Red Boat uses just two ingredients (no preservatives or additives found here): fresh wild-caught black anchovies and sea salt. It's the result of the first pressing of the fish (think olive oil) and a subsequent slow fermentation in wood barrels.
Red Boat's newest product is fish salt (sold exclusively on Provisions) -- essentially a dehydrated version of their fish sauce. It’s extremely strong, so we asked Red Boat how best to cook with it. Some chefs they work with use it to cure meats, or season compound butters -- it's potent!
Though traditionally used in Asian cuisines, don't be shy about experimenting with both products. Anchovies are one of our favorite secret weapon ingredients in cooking, and good quality fish sauce and salt do the same trick. The salty taste can elevate an otherwise-average cheesy pasta bake or stew to a multi-layered, nuanced masterpiece.
We checked in with Jenn Louis, chef and owner of Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern in Portland, OR, for more expert inspiration. She came up with a twist on a Bloody Mary using lime juice and fish sauce that has earned a permanent place on our weekend brunch menu.
20 ounces tomato juice
2 1/2 ounces lime juice
1 ounce Red Boat Fish Sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
Heaping tablespoon of horseradish
1/4 ounce olive juice
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce