Fish Sauce Hell

A thing or two

One common misconception is that Vietnamese food is different than other South East Asian countries. Well having been around here for the better part of a year I can tell you that is not the case.

Think of it this way! If you had to tell me what five staple ingredient’s there are typically in an Italian/medeterainian/Greek kitchen the list would look similar and include garlic, olive oil, parsley, peeled tomato, wine and of course pastas and breads and the list goes on.

You could attribute at the very least two to three of these to over 50% of dishes found on menus in “Italian, Medi, ” we will come back to this one, restaurants the whole world over. Yes? Well a very similar thing can be said for the pantries in most South East Asian countries Bali, Vietnam, Indonesia share the same basics with slight but unique variations and use of the ingredients. 

Vietnamese food tends to rely heavily on fish sauce to the point that true Vietnamese not the stuff found in tourist spots even here, cooking like at grandma’s house would make you cry in disgust and have you wishing you hadn’t committed to being a good person in this life while Balinese food would have a similar effect with there use of lemon grass. I hate Lemongrass! 

You’ve heard of lemongrass, and you’ve probably tasted it, but do you know what the hell it is? Lemongrass is actually exactly what it sounds like: a grass-like herb that has a lemon flavor. There’s a lot more to it than that, however.

 Too popular in Thai and Vietnamese cooking, lemongrass also works well in Western cooking — its complex flavors can liven up a variety of dishes like anything you can muscle it into.

Lemongrass’s slightly sweet, pungent as ass and lemony taste makes it great for spicy stews and curries, but it also works well in the trash, desserts and sodas and cocktails. Just ask lip deformed Jamie oliver about it, he loves the shit!

If you haven’t explored the complex notes of lemongrass yet, or if you’re an avid fan who just wants to learn more about this common but somewhat mysterious ingredient, don’t! Fuck off to some bullshit foodie site and lemongrass yourself into a coma. 

Now on to my second most hated ingredient in the whole of the god forsaken universe. Fish Sauce!

Fish sauce is simple: Fish (usually anchovies) mixed with sea salt and fermented for a long period. The resulting liquid nastiness, fish sauce. 

It’s the backbone of Eastern Asian cuisine. The Thai call it nam pla, the Vietnamese, nuoc mam. In the Philippines it’s patis, Korea, aek jeot, I call it shit fish juice. According to Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking, fish fermentation “arose several thousand years ago in the freshwaters of Southwest China and the Mekong River region. The Vietnamese use this stuff like their lives depend on it and like I said before it’ lets say… an acquired taste.

So we are talking about Southeast Asian food all tasting pretty much the same to me. So next time you and shitty friends all settle on Vietnamese food for the evening remember if you bring your own fish sauce or lemongrass you can essential dine anywhere and decide what nations food will send you squirting about.

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