Monday, July 23, 2012

Thai Fishless Sauce - DIY Pantry

Thai food is one of the most enchanting cuisines in the world, at least in my book. Any cuisine that uses lime, coconut milk, cilantro and chiles as liberally as Thais do are culinary geniuses. But there are a few slightly more esoteric ingredients that are fundamental to making Thai food, like lemongrass, Kafir lime leaves and fish sauce.

Fish sauce is usually made from anchovies and other seasonings, which puts it off the table for vegetarian and vegan cooking. So when I noticed that Vegan Dad had posted a DIY fishless sauce, well, that was a no-brainer to try!

Vegan Dad's version is brilliant - use plants from the ocean, AKA seaweed, to mimic that fishy taste, without the fish. Since I am not completely vegetarian at the moment and am still eating fish, I had some fish sauce to compare to Vegan Dad's seaweed version. To deepen the umami taste of the fishless sauce, I made two additions to his recipe - a dash of dark soy sauce and an extra piece of seaweed, kombu, which I allowed to soak for 24 hours in the first blend of the sauce. It deepens the complexity of the sauce giving it the stronger fishy flavor that actual fish sauce imparts.

The rough looking piece of black green stuff next to the sauce in the picture above is a piece of kombu. In case you are not familiar with this particular seaweed, make a point to find some and introduce yourself. Kombu is a great ingredient for adding to bean soups and earthy vegetarian broths to create the umami flavor that omnivores claim only comes from meat bones! On top of that, it is packed with iodine and iron. I use it when I soak beans, since it adds in the digestibility of cooked beans.

As for this fishless sauce, it went into a Thai Herbed Noodle dish with homemade green curry paste - sensational!

Thai Fishless Sauce - Vegan (adapted from Vegan Dad)
(makes 1 cup)

2 sheets nori, crumbled
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 inch piece of kombu

Place all ingredients except kombu in a blender and allow to soak for 5 minutes, then blend until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and add kombu and place in fridge for 24 hours. Remove kombu and store in the fridge. Keeps for at least 1 year.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Chick Pea and Poppy Seed Batter Fried Squash Blossoms at ECurry!
West-Indian Style Channa Wrap at Eats Well With Others
Spicy Harissa Seitan Sausages at Veggie Fixation

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