Your Favorite Ways to Use Fish Sauce

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline—it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge—and to keep the conversation going.

Today: Embracing the fishy funk of fermentation. 

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"Just a dab will do ya," is like fish sauce's unofficial motto. But, oh, what a dab it is. A tablespoon of fish sauce adds a funky depth to things like rice noodles and corn soup. It makes larb lovely and Thai steak Thai-y.

Over on the Hotline, Phillie Filly bought a bottle BLiS fish sauce, but has a slight problem: "the expiration date is 2/2016." She wants to know what suggestions you have for using all that funk up before its time is up. From marinades to grains, here are your favorite ways to cook with fish sauce:

  • As a marinade for chicken or pork, lloreen uses 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 3 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon minced lemongrass.
  • Kristen W. says to make a big batch of nuoc chom (a Vietnamese condiment made with fish sauce, lime, and sugar) and freeze it in indiviudal portions.

  • TobiT loves Vietnamese flank steak.
  • Food52's Director of Customer Experience and Operations Lauren Kelley reached out to BLiS, confirming the fish sauce is actually safe to use 2 years past its expiration date—giving us all plenty of time to cook our way through her fish sauce-specific recipe collection.

What's your favorite way to use fish sauce? Tell us in the comments below!

Photos by James Ransom 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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YenWhite August 27, 2015
in parts of east asia, fish sauce is actually the de facto seasoning (as opposed to soy); it has deep, briny savory profile that works well in both simple vegetable stirfries and complex braises. our dinner table is never complete without a little dish of sliced red chillies with a dash of fish sauce as a spicy, unfussy condiment that enhances every bite.
Jennifer G. August 26, 2015
I add a dash or two in my scrambled eggs prior to cooking.
Nichole August 24, 2015
I like to put it in marinara sauce as a sub for anchovies. I also like to add it to cooking quinoa along with a little sugar and some grated ginger for a fun asian twist.
Ryan M. August 24, 2015
This is wonderful. I bought fish sauce for one recipe and then it sits there until I decide to make the dish again. I can't wait to try some of these other recipes!
Sarah S. August 24, 2015
Bon Appetit has a recipe in their August issue which is a farro salad with a ton of herbs, tomatoes, and cucumber with a fish sauce vinegiarette. Great mixed in with tofu or edamame or as a side to some grilled meat. I've eaten this 4 times in the past two weeks! Delicious
Rich T. August 22, 2015
I use Red Boat and BLiS and store them in the refrigerator. While not necessary to keep them from spoiling — they're fermented and will never spoil — fish sauce is prone to oxidize over time and refrigeration will retard that process, so it can maintain its freshness longer.

I use regular Red Boat fish sauce in almost everything, from marinara to stews — you name it. One-half teaspoon per quart adds umami without any fish sauce flavor.

I bought the BLiS on a whim and haven't actually experimented with it yet. It might be too intense for lighter things like marinara, but the next time I make something heartier like green chile stew, I'll probably give it a try.