Monday, October 31, 2011

Nothing Fishy

I am committing myself to making more delicious Asian-inspired foods this winter.  I love the care that goes into making beautiful Japanese food.  I love the flavors of Korean and Vietnamese and Thai food.  To get myself started, I looked for a recipe on the web for vegetarian fish sauce.  There are quite a few!  As far as I can tell, fish sauce serves to add salt and umami complexity to recipes.  Most of the time, when I see fish sauce in a recipe, I just add extra tamari.  We'll see what happens when I add my special phish sauce to Veggie Pho, and all the curries and soups I plan on making this winter.

Fysh sauce?  It tastes gingery and sour and sweet and salty all at once.  My first use of the fish sauce is in a big batch of vegetarian kim chi I am fermenting in the fridge.  I'll let you know how it turns out in a couple of weeks!

Vegan Fish Sauce
Takes 1 hour
Makes 1 3/4 cups of sauce

2 cups wakame seaweed, broken up (I think I would use kombu next time)
3 dried shitake mushrooms
4 cups water
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 TBSP black peppercorns
1/2 cup tamari
2 tsp. lime juice
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 TBSP rice wine vinegar
3 tsp. palm sugar
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1/4 tsp. chili powder

In a large pot, bring seaweed, mushrooms, and water to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer again, and cook for 30 minutes.

Let cool.  Strain into a clean bottle.  Store in the fridge, for up to 1 month.

Your house will smell intense while this is cooking!  Moste Potente!

Let me know if you have a good name to call this stinky sauce by!


  1. I can't wait to hear how the kimchi turns out! I want to make some!!!!!!

  2. a good intense or bad intense smell?? apartment is not big!

  3. Abby--we haven't tried the kimchi yet, we are waiting for the 1 week mark!

    Lady---It's not a bad intense smell. The sauce itself smells no where near as pungent as real fish sauce. But when I walked into my apartment after stepping outside for a bit, I was definitely confronted with the smell of the sea! It's a lot of seaweed simmering for awhile!

  4. I would love to know how this came out. The only advice I would add is to add some pineapple juice. I got this tip from the daughter of a Philipino mother, who family had passed down their fish sauce recipe for many generations. I really think it adds an authenticity to the fake fish sauce. But I love the changes you made to my recipe.

    Ms Nadja Dee Witherbee