â€¢ Fish sauce. Can’t live with it, can’t cook without it. Love the taste of a bit in Thai and Vietnamese dishes, but need a substitute to cook with. Any suggestions? – A Reader, California
Are you out of your mind?
You can substitute soy sauce (many true vegetarian restaurants in Southeast Asia use it) but itâ€™s just not the same. Oyster sauce is also used in many Asian dishes. Best bet: take a trip to Vietnam. Immerse yourself in all the scents and flavors, eat a bowl of bun cha on the street, and youâ€™ll soon conquer your fish sauce fears.
NOTE: Make sure to buy the best fish sauce available, generally something from Phu Quoc, Vietnam (see posting here). It makes a huge difference. For example, while Thai sauce often stinks of fish, Phu Quoc smells of it. Yes, thereâ€™s a big difference.