When you’re done making fish sauce brittle – apparently, it’s a thing – try your hand at some of our best fish sauce recipes from Southeast Asia and beyond. From traditional uses for fish sauce, such as fish sauce based dipping sauces, salad dressings and marinades to distinctly non-traditional: I use it in my Stroganoff.
Fish sauce is my desert island condiment for its funky, salty and savoury flavours that add umami to everything from salads to stir-fries. If I was forced to choose from the dozens of sauces, vinegars, pastes, and condiments in our kitchen – a quarter of which are fish sauces from Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand – I’d naturally choose fish sauce.
Our best fish sauce recipes include dipping sauces for Cambodian fried spring rolls, spicy Thai dips for raw veggies, and salad dressings for Shan salads from Myanmar and a Thai fried egg salad called yam khai dao – as well as soup stocks, stir-fries and braises.
While Vietnamese fish sauces and Thai fish sauces are the best-known Southeast Asian fish sauces internationally, fish sauce was produced by the Mon-Khmer in the lands we now know as Vietnam and Thailand long before the Vietnamese settled on the Red River Delta and the Tai travelled down from Southern China into the land we now know as Thailand.
Unless you travel to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, you’ll find it challenging to source their fish sauces, as production is significantly smaller and something of a cottage industry. Thai and Vietnamese fish sauces are also produced at an artisanal level, and these have been some of my favourites, however, major manufacturers produce fish sauces that are more consistent in flavour.
We will be publishing a fish sauce tasting of the top quality fish sauces from Thailand and Vietnam that are distributed globally. Until then, we recommend Thailand’s Megachef for a quality fish sauce, as its sodium levels are always consistent.
You could also try the Vietnamese-American brand Red Boat Fish Sauce, which our American readers often recommend, although we haven’t tried it as we’ve never seen it in Southeast Asia.
Before I tell you more about our best fish sauce recipes, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve cooked our recipes and enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo by supporting our epic Cambodian cuisine history and cookbook on Patreon, which you can do for as little as the price of a coffee. Or you could buy us a coffee and we’ll use our coffee money to buy cooking ingredients for recipe testing.
Another option is to use links on our site to buy travel insurance, rent a car or campervan or motorhome, book accommodation, or book a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide. Or buy something on Amazon, such as these cookbooks for culinary travellers, James Beard award-winning cookbooks, cookbooks by Australian chefs, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, travel books to inspire wanderlust, and gifts for Asian food lovers and picnic lovers. We may earn a small commission but you won’t pay any extra.
Lastly, you could browse our Grantourismo store for gifts for food lovers, including food themed reusable cloth face masks designed with Terence’s images. Now let me tell you all about our best fish sauce recipes.
Best Fish Sauce Recipes – Ways of Cooking with Fish Sauce from Salad Dressings to Stir Fries
Fish sauce is a key ingredient in a whole array of fish sauce-based dipping sauces in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos, such as the Cambodian dipping sauce, teuk trei pa’em. Made with fish sauce, vinegar, palm sugar, shallots, garlic, and carrot, it’s the quintessential sauce for dipping classic Cambodian deep-fried spring rolls filled with pork, shrimp, carrot, daikon, and garlic. It’s one of the best fish sauce recipes as it tastes so delicious and is so easy to make that you may never buy a bottled spring roll dipping sauce again.
Cambodian Fried Spring Roll Dipping Sauce Recipe for a Sweet Tangy Sauce That’s a Cinch to Make
Fish sauce makes this coconut sauce for poat dot, a Cambodian street food snack, truly special. The sauce is both a marinade of sorts, brushed onto the corn cobs before they’re barbecued, as well as a dressing, drizzled on the corn cobs after they’re cooked. Fish sauce, coconut milk, sugar, salt and spring onions make this delightfully sweet and salty sauce for a snack that’s hugely popular during corn season and deservedly so! It’s one of the best fish sauce recipes for fish sauce lovers.
Cambodian Grilled Corn Recipe for Poat Dot with a Fish Sauce, Spring Onions and Coconut Milk Sauce
Fish sauce gets used as an ingredient in a variety of dips – not only dipping sauces – such as this Thai nam prik ong, a gently spiced pork and tomato dip from Northern Thailand. A Northern Thai specialty, it was one of the first dishes we’d order at our favourite restaurants in the old Lanna capital of Chiang Mai. Served with fresh or steamed vegetables or sticky rice, which you dip into the bowl, nam prik ong is the most approachable of the Thai relishes and dips, not being as pungent or fiery as some. You’ll need a granite mortar and pestle to make it.
Tasty Thai Nam Prik Ong Recipe for a Spicy Pork and Tomato Dip from Northern Thailand
Skip the salt. Fish sauce and eggs are a marriage made in heaven. Douse your best fish sauce on omelettes, fried eggs, poached eggs, steamed eggs, and baked eggs. Not only does fish sauce provide saltiness and savouriness, but the wetness of a fish sauce is a nice contrast to dry crispy fried eggs. Use a top quality fish sauce with deep flavours for added punch, particularly if you’re serving it with a Southeast Asian-style omelette for breakfast or brunch to guests. It’s a perfect match for this Thai fried egg salad called yam khai dao, an addictive dish of crispy fried eggs with sweet tomatoes, purple shallots, crunchy peanuts, fragrant coriander and Chinese celery, chillies, and a salad dressing that’s all at once sweet, sour, tangy, and funky.
Thai Fried Egg Salad Recipe for Yam Khai Dao, a Deliciously Addictive Crispy Fried Egg Salad
Fish sauce is used in the dressing for this wonderful Shan tomato salad made with juicy tomatoes textured with crunchy purple onions, sesame seeds, crispy fried shallots and garlic, and fragrant fresh coriander, and it’s easily another of the best fish sauce recipes for fans of fish sauce. Mostly made with green tomatoes, it’s also made with red tomatoes and is typically eaten as a refreshing accompaniment to rich curries but can also be enjoyed with steamed rice. It hails from beautiful Shan State in northeastern Myanmar – a fertile region of forested mountains, rolling hills and serene lakes. If you enjoy this also try this Shan vermicelli noodle salad recipe.
Shan Tomato Salad Recipe with Shallots, Sesame and Coriander from Shan State, Myanmar
Fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind water, lime juice, and bird’s eye chillies comprise the salad dressing for this fantastic fresh herb salad recipe, which will make you a big fragrant bowl of yum chee from chef Chalee Kader’s 100 Mahaseth restaurant in Bangkok. While more akin to a European-style green salad than a Thai salad, it’s nevertheless distinctly Southeast Asian in its sweet and sour flavours and zesty-ness.
Fresh Herb Salad Recipe for Yum Chee from 100 Mahaseth Restaurant Bangkok
When it comes to the classic Thai som tam, fish sauce is so much more than an element of a salad dressing – which we tend to think of as something that you pour over a salad or toss with the salad. The spicy Thai green papaya salad, made on the streets of Thailand, originated in northeastern Thailand’s Isaan region and is found right across northern Southeast Asia. Thai fish sauce, palm sugar, lime juice, tamarind water and garlic cloves are pounded in an enormous mortar and pestle with the other ingredients, roasted peanuts, dried shrimp, cherry tomatoes, long beans, chillies, and green papaya. It’s undoubtedly another of the best fish sauce recipes for fish sauce addicts. If you enjoy this, try the Cambodian green papaya salad called bok lahong.
Classic Thai Som Tam Recipe for a Thai Green Papaya Salad Plus Tips for Jazzing Up Your Som Tam
Raw Fish Marinade
This traditional Khmer raw fish salad recipe for phlea trei makes a ceviche-style Cambodian dish that’s usually made with a local firm white fish ‘cooked’ in a marinade of citrus juice, lime zest, fish sauce, sugar, salt, garlic, and kaffir lime leaves that then becomes the dressing. It’s an ancient Khmer dish that feels contemporary, which is why it can be found on the menus of Cambodia’s finest Cambodian restaurants. We use salmon for this dish, which is much-loved by Cambodians, and which I also adore.
Traditional Khmer Raw Fish Salad Recipe for the Cambodian Style Ceviche Called Phlea Trei
Fish sauce and soy sauce finish off the pork bone stock for this wonderful Lao khao soi, a deliciously filling Laotian soup with wide rice noodles and a rich, hearty sauce of pork mince, tomatoes and fermented soy beans that could best be described as a Southeast Asian style ragu Bolognese. Warning: this is seriously addictive. Terence has been perfecting this recipe since we first tasted Lao khao soi at a simple noodle joint in a dilapidated shed in Luang Prabang, Laos.
Lao Khao Soi Recipe – How to Make the Laotian Soup with a Ragu Bolognese Style Sauce
Fish sauce is the ingredient that distinguishes Southeast Asian stir-fries from Chinese stir-fries and it’s a key ingredient in this popular stir-fry as well as the sauce that accompanies it, making it another one of the best fish sauce recipes for fish sauce lovers. Pad kra pao consists of stir fried pork and holy basil with fried egg, that’s served with prik nam pla – a sauce made from fish sauce, lime juice, bird’s eye chillies and garlic – and eaten with jasmine rice. It’s a breakfast staple dished up at street food stalls all over Thailand and is one of the most popular Thai street food breakfasts with Thai people. You’ll need a seasoned carbon steel wok to get the mince nice and smoky.
Thai Pad Kra Pao Recipe for Stir Fried Ground Pork and Holy Basil with Fried Egg
My Russian chicken Stroganoff recipe makes the best chicken Stroganoff and another of our best fish sauce recipes. It’s inspired by the old Shanghai-style of Stroganoff and it’s incredibly rich, redolent of spices, slightly tangy due to the addition of Worcestershire sauce, which was added to beef Stroganoff in the Russian restaurants in Shanghai and Harbin in China in the early 20th century, and loaded with umami thanks to my addition of fish sauce. If you love my authentic beef Stoganoff recipe and my mushroom Stroganoff recipe, both based on my Russian family recipes, then I guarantee you that you’re going to love this chicken Stroganoff recipe, perhaps even more.
Chicken Stroganoff Recipe for a Rich, Spicy, Tangy Old Shanghai Style Stroganoff
Please do let us know if you make any of our best fish sauce recipes in the comments below as we’d love to get your feedback and hear how our recipes turned out for you.
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