flavor of the month: fish sauce

Fish sauce and I are having a moment. It’s not an ingredient we cooked with growing up, but it’s suddenly finding it’s way into more and more of my meals. It started with Molly telling me how much she and her beau loved it on roasted brussels sprouts. That was such a hit that I added fish sauce to my new favorite cauliflower recipe (which I also roast in the oven, rather than stir-frying on the stovetop. My cast iron skillet and I are also having a moment), making it even more delicious. Then I tried a recipe I can’t wait to share from Hal’s favorite lady chef that showed me how well fish sauce plays with chicken. And in a really fish sauce focused evening, Hal and I took a Vietnamese Street Food cooking class that featured the savor/salty/sweet taste in every single dish (except dessert)–Sugar Cane Shrimp, Caramelized Pork Belly Banh Mi, Banh Hoi, and Che Thai. And dang was it good. But my very favorite way to use my new very favorite ingredient is in Shutterbean’s Thai beef with basil.

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I’ve liked everything I’ve ever made from Shutterbean–in fact I made her lemon chicken just this week–and this dish in particular has me thinking I need to watch the site more carefully for genius quick n’ tasty weeknight dinner ideas. You really can’t go wrong with a blogger who appreciates the value of an occasional popcorn dinner and a great cocktail, but also does totally inspiring weekly meal prep (something I highly recommend stalking on instagram). Life skills I can get behind.

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This dinner is a win for a lot of reasons. First, minus some chopping prep (that you can totally skip with the right gadget or by buying pre shredded carrots), it really does come together quickly. So quickly that the last time I made it my timing was off and the beef had to wait while the brussels sprouts (seeing a trend?) finished roasting. The flavors really patch a punch, especially considering what a speedy process it all is. The meal itself is built in a way that really creates rich flavor: you start off with oil quickly infused with plenty of garlic and jalapeno, cook beef til it gets nice and browned, and wilt in plenty of basil. The finished beef is tossed with a quick carrot, basil, and scallion slaw, and an awesome sauce–featuring fish sauce, of course!–is drizzled over the top. You get heat from the beef, a nice cool contrast from the slaw, and tons of flavor from every component. So so good.

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I followed the recipe as written, and you can find it here. The only thing I switched up was serving it with red quinoa rather than rice, but I did take the awesome suggestion of using a combo of coconut milk and chicken broth, rather than water, to make my quinoa. So much more tasty and savory! Definitely recommend.

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One thought on “flavor of the month: fish sauce

  1. Pingback: thai chicken meatballs with peanut curry sauce | butter poached

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