Fish sauce, a staple ingredient in many Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia, is made from fermented fish and sea salt. While it may not sound or smell appetizing, fish sauce adds a complex flavor to food. It is added to dishes during the cooking process or used straight or as a base for dipping sauce.
Growing up in the Philippines, I knew it as patis. In Vietnam it is known as nuoc nam, and as nam pla in Thailand. Perhaps since I was introduced to fish sauce at such an early age, I don’t mind its distinct potent aroma; in fact, I rather like it. I often add it to the Filipino soups, seafood and meat dishes I prepare.
For years, I’ve been buying the Thai brand of fish sauce called Tiparos. Recently, I have noticed that many blogs, magazines, and food web sites are hailing the Red Boat brand fish sauce as the ingredient of the moment, so I decided to use the Red Boat No. 40 for this Vietnamese Shaking Beef recipe. I found the flavor and smell milder and lighter than the Tiparos. I see the Red Boat brand’s appeal in the American market, but as a lifelong user of fish sauce, I prefer the stronger, more pungent flavor of Tiparos.
I love how the different elements of this Vietnamese dish, Bo Luc Lac – the beef marinade, vinaigrette, and awesome dipping sauce – create a complex, yet perfectly balanced combination of sweet, salty, sour, and umami flavors. Since I followed the recipe mostly as written, I won’t be reprinting it here. The only changes I made were to add bit more soy sauce and fish sauce than the original recipe to suit my taste and to substitute spinach for the watercress. Perhaps a change I would make the next time I make this dish is in the cut of beef. I think the ribeye, a more flavorful and tender cut of beef than the sirloin steak called for in the original recipe would be a better choice.
Click on the link for the original recipe found in Rasa Malaysia.
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Reblogged this on CARMEN.
When made right, these are fall-apart tender. I like to dip it in salt & pepper with lime juice. This is a great dish, and nice photos!
This is amazing Daisy, thank you for sharing!
I love fish sauce, fermented prawns, you name it. Good for you keeping the flavors bold!
Susan, we’re you Asian in your previous life?
I think I must have been! I just gorged at a Lucky Peach inspired pop-up featuring five courses of pork! *burps*
I am seeing your picture everywhere today – Tastespotting, Foodgawker, and Pinterest. Every time it makes my mouth water. I am definitely going to make this soon!
Thanks! I didn’t realize that I made on to both Tastespotting and Foodgawker, at the same time! It doesn’t happen too often. I hope you like it!
I think fish sauce should be as pungent as possible… that’s kinda the point, right? Anyway, this sounds awesome. I’m always learning about new dishes from you 🙂
Frugal, I love the way you think….and cook! Some people find fish sauce too stinky, but I love it. Thanks for your kind words. The feeling is mutual.
Oh, I need to make this. Gorgeous as usual, Daisy.
Thanks, Patti! It was a hit at our house! I hope you guys like it, too!