My dad probably was never aware of the concept of umami.
All he knew was that a splash of soy sauce imparted a magical touch to so many dishes — from homemade steak sauce to a marinade for prime rib to Thanksgiving gravy.
He’d reach for that bottle of soy sauce instinctively, knowing it would add depth of flavor and a boost of savoriness to most anything it touched.
In much the same way, Vietnamese fish sauce is as indispensable in the kitchen.
If you know the fermented condiment made from black anchovies and salt only from its use in the ubiquitous nuoc cham dipping sauce served alongside so many dishes at Vietnamese restaurants, you know merely a fraction of its uses.
Explore just how versatile fish sauce can be in the new cookbook, “The Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook: Beloved Recipes from the Family Behind the Purest Fish Sauce” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a review copy.
It was written by the East Bay’s Cuong Pham, the former Apple engineer who founded Red Boat Fish Sauce, the game-changing brand that’s beloved by legions of top chefs and home-cooks.
After immigrating to the United States, he hunted high and low for the ultra fragrant, deeply amber fish sauce of his youth. When he couldn’t find any brands here that met his standards, he created his own in 2011, sourcing wild black anchovies off the coast of Vietnam and combining them with nothing but salt in wooden barrels to ferment the age-old way. In doing so, he created a fish sauce celebrated for its purity of flavor with no additives, enhancers, or preservatives.Read more