ASK ME! fish sauce

• 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 it’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 you’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, there’s a big difference.

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