Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Things I Don't Like: Fish Sauce

I had a recipe in my Barbecue Bible (a must-have for any grilling enthusiast) for Thai chicken lettuce wraps. Essentially, chicken strips marinated in coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, sugar and turmeric, grilled and wrapped in lettuce leaves with a peanut sauce. Sounds good, right?

One roadblock: fish sauce. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about fish sauce:

Fish sauce is a condiment that is derived from fish that have been allowed to ferment. It is an essential ingredient in many curries and sauces. Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in Vietnamese, Thai, Lao, Cambodian, and Filipino cuisine and is used in other Southeast Asian countries. In addition to being added to dishes during the cooking process, fish sauce can also be used in mixed form as a dipping condiment, and it is done in many different ways by each country mentioned for fish, shrimp, pork, and chicken. In parts of southern China, it is used as an ingredient for soups and casseroles.

I've made only 1 recipe that has fish sauce, a shrimp recipe that I did not end up enjoying as much as I'd have liked. I usually would substitute soy sauce, but I was feeling adventurous and thought I'd give the stuff a try again.

To say that the stuff smelled like rotten dirty feet would be an understatement. It's got to be one of the foulest smelling substances I've ever encountered (and I went through 2 semesters of smelling particularly horrid organics). Even though I had hoped the flavor would mellow somewhat during the grilling, all I tasted was nasty feet, and that's even through a particularly seasoned and tasty peanut sauce.

The moral of the story? I don't think I'll be cooking with fish sauce again anytime soon.


Brian said...

I always had the same feelings about fish sauce. I just never made it to the appropriate store to find some so I could try it. I see that my laziness has ruled over your adventurousness!