Our 21 Best Fish Sauce Recipes

Pancit Miki Bihon
Photo: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Kay E. Clarke

Fish sauce is a wildly popular and versatile condiment, used widely to give a savory, umami note to dishes. It's prominent in the cuisines of a wide swath of East and Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia and China. Once you get your hands on a bottle, here are 21 of our best fish sauce recipes to try.

01 of 21

Sinigang Na Hipon

Sinigang Na Hipon
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Kay E. Clarke

Sinigang is a soup from the Philippines with a tangy broth, often made using sour fruit like tamarind or unripe guava. For her sinigang na hipon (prawn sinigang), chef Melissa Miranda uses fresh grapefruit and lemon juice for the sour notes in the full-bodied fish broth that bathes succulent, grilled head-on Argentinean prawns and earthy charred shishitos.

02 of 21

Bruised Cabbage and Herb Salad with Spicy Fish Sauce Dressing

Bruised Cabbage and Herb Salad with Spicy Fish Sauce Dressing Recipe
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

When hardy vegetables like cabbage are lightly crushed in a tall Thai-style clay mortar with a long wooden pestle, they're tenderized just enough to yield a pleasing soft crunch. Bruised Thai basil, cilantro, and mint permeate this dish, with a dressing of fish sauce and lime, pounded chiles, garlic, and ginger.

03 of 21

Spicy Shrimp Toast

Shrimp Toast
Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Prop Styling by Christina Daley / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall

Shrimp toast has become a staple in American Chinese restaurants and is a fun snack to make at home. Here, 2011 F&W Best New Chef Stephanie Izard makes a shrimp mousse flavored with spicy sambal oelek; bright, tangy preserved lemon; and Shaoxing rice wine, and spreads it on white bread.

04 of 21

Shaking Beef

HD-201005-r-shaking-beef.jpg
© Quentin Bacon

Chef Charles Phan serves this sweet and vinegary Vietnamese dish with a tart dipping sauce of lime juice, salt, and pepper. In this easy version, the beef is served with fresh lime wedges instead of a dipping sauce.

05 of 21

Green Curry Lobster Stew with Sweet Potato and Mushrooms

Green Curry Lobster Stew
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

""Lobster stew is one of the pillars of Maine cooking," according to chefs Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor of Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, Maine. For this green curry-laced version, they took cues from tom kha, a coconut milk-based Thai soup, and enriched it with umami-heavy Golden Mountain sauce and hen-of-the-woods mushroom confit to create a richly aromatic lobster stew.

06 of 21

Cornish Hen Stew with Lemongrass and Chiles

Cornish Hen Stew with Lemongrass and Chiles
© Stephanie Foley

Served in the rustic northern Thai style with the aromatics left in, this spicy, gingery stew makes a fantastic main course or starter.

07 of 21

Crispy Garlic-Glazed Chicken Wings

Crispy Garlic Glazed Chicken Wings
Justin Walker

At Anan Saigon restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, chef Peter Cuong Franklin serves next-level chicken wings that are at once sticky-sweet and explosively umami. Baked then stir-fried in a mixture of fish sauce, lime juice, and soy sauce, the wings get finished with crunchy fried garlic and fresh scallions.

08 of 21

Crab Summer Rolls with Nuoc Cham Sauce

Crab Summer Rolls with Nuoc Cham Sauce
© Con Poulos

Layering the crabmeat first in these summer rolls (often mislabeled as spring rolls in America) lets you see it through the translucent wrapper. The deeply flavored nuoc cham sauce brings together lime juice, fish sauce, chile, sesame, scallion, cilantro, and mint.

09 of 21

Shrimp Fried Rice with Coconut and Pickled Onions

Shrimp Fried Rice with Coconut and Pickled Onions
© John Kernick

For chef Chris Yeo's version of fried rice, known in Southeast Asia as nasi goreng, he adds two surprise ingredients: quick-pickled onions and nutty shredded coconut.

10 of 21

Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)

FW Feb 2019 Vietnamese - Beef Stew
Greg DuPree

Baguette and bo kho are great friends, but you also can serve the stew with pasta — try it over pappardelle-size egg noodles or rice noodles. Add a green salad for a complete meal.

11 of 21

Fish Sauce Caramel Chicken

Fish Sauce-Caramel Chicken
Christopher Testani

This dish is inspired by ga kho gung, a Vietnamese dish of caramelized chicken with ginger and fish sauce. The sweetness of the caramel is nicely balanced by the saltiness of the fish sauce and the savory notes of shallots and garlic.

12 of 21

Larb (Thai Ground Pork Salad)

Thai Ground Pork Salad
© Con Poulos

At Thai restaurants, butcher Tom Mylan usually requests a double order of larb (or laab), an irresistible appetizer of ground meat spiked with chiles, lime juice, and fish sauce and served with lettuce leaves for wrapping.

13 of 21

Pancit Miki Bihon

Pancit Miki Bihon
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Kay E. Clarke

"Pancit is a catch-all term for noodle dishes in the Philippines — and there are so many variations of pancit" says 2021 F&W Best New Chef Carlo Lamagna. This pancit combines two types of noodles: bihon (long, thin noodles usually made from rice flour or cornstarch) and miki (egg noodles).

14 of 21

Thai-Style Shrimp Cocktail

Thai-Style Shrimp Cocktail
Aubrie Pick

Chef Kris Yenbamroong of Night + Market invites a quick garlic aioli and super spicy fish sauce–based dipping sauce to the shrimp cocktail party. Serve the shrimp alongside ramekins of aioli and nam jim seafood sauce for dipping, or arrange the shrimp around the rim of a coupe glass filled with nam jim for more intense flavor.

15 of 21

Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Peanuts and Fish Sauce

Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Peanuts and Fish Sauce Recipe
Cedric Angeles

Chef Nick Bognar's salad of fresh shredded cabbage is a riot of flavors and textures. The tangy, spicy dressing soaks into each bite, which is punctuated with pops of sweet crunch from the quick-candied peanuts and bursts of verdant flavor from fistfuls of herbs.

16 of 21

Savory Fish Sauce Caramel Porridge with Sweet Potatoes

savory porridge
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

This satisfying bowl of multigrain porridge — made with long grain brown rice, quinoa, and amaranth — is flavored with coconut milk and topped with sweet potatoes seasoned with a splash of fresh lime juice. The fish sauce caramel is both mixed into the porridge as well as drizzled on top just before serving for a sweet and savory umami hit.

17 of 21

Spicy Green Papaya Salad

Spicy Green Papaya Salad
© Maura McEvoy

The classic northern Thai salad called som tam is often eaten with sticky rice and such ingredients as very small Thai eggplants, little tomatoes, crushed peanuts, dried shrimp, long beans, crispy pork, and even salted crabs. This is a minimalist version, and it's simply stunning.

18 of 21

Butternut Squash and Pork Soup with Fish Sauce and Tender Herbs

Butternut Squash and Pork Soup with Fish Sauce and Tender Herbs
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

In Vietnam, kabocha squash is simmered with pork to make a soup called canh bi do thit heo. This riff on that classic dish swaps in mild butternut, which holds its shape well and absorbs the rich flavors of the broth and pork while cooking quickly. Filled with tender ground pork marinated in fish sauce and sugar, this aromatic, brothy soup comes together in under an hour for a light and satisfying meal.

19 of 21

Okra Tempura with Lime "Fonzu" Dipping Sauce

Okra Tempura With Lime Fonzu Sauce
Photo by Linda Xiao / Food Styling by Kate Buckens / Prop Styling by Maeve Sheridan

For those who aren't fond of okra's gooey quality, there are two surefire ways to keep it in check: high-heat cooking and a dose of acid. Executive Editor Karen Shimizu's recipe for okra tempura with a zippy dipping sauce incorporates both. The "fonzu" sauce — inspired by ponzu — uses lime juice instead of harder-to-find yuzu and a shortcut of fish sauce instead of steeping in katsuobushi.

20 of 21

Jeow Som Dipping Sauce

Jeow Som Dipping Sauce
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer and John Somerall / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

This sweet, sour, and pungent Laotian dipping sauce from 2020 F&W Best New Chef Donny Sirisavath gets a kick of heat from Thai chiles, ginger, and garlic balanced by bright, fresh lime juice. It's a delicious partner for the beefy tri-tip.

21 of 21

Grilled Quail with Sweet-and-Sour Plum Glaze

Grilled Quail with Sweet and Sour Plum Glaze
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Plums and blackberries form the backbone of this sweet-savory glaze from Top Chef Season 17 winner Melissa King; it's perfect for quail but also delicious with bone-in chicken thighs or pork chops. Serve alongside a crisp and refreshing arugula-radish salad with a tangy lime-sesame dressing for the perfect summer meal.

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