Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vegan Fish Sauce

Stating the obvious, fish sauce (nước mắm) is made from fish that has been allowed to ferment. Problematic if you're vegetarian or vegan. Profoundly unsavory on it's own, it is an *essential* element in Vietnamese cooking and other cuisines across southeast Asia.

With several ingredients on hand that lend themselves to a Vietnamese salad, I needed to find an alternative, so here it is, from Wikibooks:
Vegan "Fish" Sauce


  • 1 1/2 cup shredded dried seaweed
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 very large cloves garlic, crushed but not peeled.
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup dark Chinese soy sauce
  • Extra boiling water as needed


  1. Place the seaweed in a pot and add 4 cups of water.
  2. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to keep it bubbling along.
  3. Cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and enough water to make about 6 cups total in the pot.
  5. Bring back to a boil, then boil fairly high for at least 1/2 hour.
  6. At that point, begin to taste (just a little, though--it's strong).
  7. When the stock is reduced by about half, it will be almost too salty to eat, and that means it is ready.
  8. Strain through fine mesh or a coffee filter and allow to cool.

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