Your kosher Grandma probably never heard of nam pla or nuoc nam, the pungent tasting fish sauce used ubiquitously in Thai and Vietnamese cooking. In fact, if she took one whiff of the sauce’s fishy odor, she might have thrown it away on the assumption it was spoiled.
But tastes change. And while we still might love and treasure Grandma’s gefilte fish, a lot of us are really more in the mood for fish sauce these days, on pad thai, pho or other Southeast Asian specialties. Until recently, though, kosher cooks had to make do with soy or teriyaki sauce, mashed anchovies or soy-based Bragg’s Liquid Aminos for lack of a reliably hekshered brand of fish sauce.
Enter Queen of Tuna-brand Tuna Fish Sauce (Triangle K/Chief Rabbinate of Israel) from KosherGourmetMart. It’s expensive ($30 plus shipping, about $13) for a 25-ounce bottle. And it’s not traditional fish sauce, which is the brownish liquid that seeps from anchovies that have been salted, packed in layers and weighed down, then left to ferment for several months. Nam Pla Queen of Tuna, as its name signals, is made from tuna fish.
Still, it has the right reek and has that mysterious “almost-but-not-quite-rancid” quality that you expect from fish sauce. It might be worth a try, perhaps if you pitch in and share a bottle with a friend or two.
Click here for a chicken salad recipe using the sauce.
Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author and cooking teacher in Stamford, Conn. Her latest book is Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com, and follow her on Twitter at @RonnieVFein.
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