Friday, September 25, 2009

Vegetarian Fish Sauce!

Caution: Label contains Disney quote. "Fish are friends, not food!" I know this has been (over)done, but damn, it's cute.
I made vegetarian fish sauce today, and I must say, it is damn near as disgusting as real fish sauce. First, you boil seaweed in water for twenty minutes. My sister in law Sam said it smelled, "like a mermaid barn, like where they keep the seahorses." So yeah, it smelled like the ocean mixed with horse poop. After twenty minutes, you add a concoction of soysauce, garlic, lime juice, vinegar, ginger, sugar and pepper, then you boil it for another half an hour. Our kitchen has never smelled so bad. It was like children playing at making soup with things they found on the beach. After that, you let it cool, then strain it into a container of your choice. I used an empty soysauce bottle. The recipe made slightly more fish sauce than would fit, but it was close enough for me.

I found the recipe here, you have to scroll down a bit, but here's the whole thing, as I found it. Ms Nadja Dee Witherbee is a fellow Seattlite! Thanks to this awesome lady, we are one step closer to Home Made Thai Night!

HOME MADE VEGETARIAN FISH SAUCE: So, I've noticed that a lot of asian dishes call for fish sauce, and if you're a true vegetarian like me you always feel like that puts the recipe just out of reach. I've come up with my own vegetarian fish sauce and I think it's 99% close the real thing.

I based the main part of it off the Wikipedia Vegetarian Fish Sauce recipe, but I felt the recipe there lacked a few things which put it into the realm of "tastes like the real thing" but it's 100% VEGETARIAN.

2 - cups shredded dried seaweed
4 - cups water
3 - cloves garlic (smashed but not minced)
1 & 1/2 - Tbsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 - cup soy sauce
2 - tsp lime juice (concentrate OK)
2 - tsp lemon juice (concentrate OK)
2 - Tbs vinegar
3 - tsp sugar
1 - tsp ground ginger
1 - tsp ground garlic
1/4 - tsp chili powder

You can find the dried seaweed at just about any asian market. Personally I prefer the type that shredded kinda small versus the large sheets of seaweed. I think that when it's shredded it makes for a richer sauce.

1. In a large bowl, add 2 cups dried seaweed + 4 cups water
2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes
3. Add garlic cloves + peppercorns + soy sauce + lime juice + lime juice
+ vinegar + sugar + ginger + garlic powder + ginger + chili powder
4. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to medium and cook for 30 minutes
5. You can adjust the salt level by adding water
6. Allow to cool
7. Strain into a container

Straining it is the key. Once it's strained you can funnel it into a large water bottle, and label it "Veggie Fish Sauce" or as it's called in Vietnam "Nuoc Mam Chay" If you've ever tasted the real fish sauce (in your pre-veggie days) you can sample a tiny bit and see just how close to the real thing it really tastes. But caution...this stuff is stinky and strong! Just like the real fish sauce.

Hope you like it.
Ms Nadja Dee Witherbee
Seattle WA

Results of this science experiment to follow!

1 comment:

Benign Lives Tablorium said...

Dear Noelley B,
Hello Nadja Dee Witherbee here. I am thrilled that you tried the Nuoc Mam Chay recipe. That really makes me happy. I thank you also for giving me props on the recipe. It's really getting around and it seems like few sites are giving me credit, so thank you. I put a lot of research into making a decent vegetarian fish sauce replacement.

You are a fellow Seattle-ite and it's nice to visit your site.

Nadja Dee