Drop A Flavor Bomb On Your Buttered Noodles With One Secret Sauce

Butter noodles with herbs and pepper flakes on linens
Butter noodles with herbs and pepper flakes on linens - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

There are two ingredients that, when combined, cross cultural boundaries in their ability to be both comforting and satisfying. The equation is simple: butter plus noodles. But part of the beauty of this formula is that it can also be a canvas for so many other easy-to-add elements, and if you want to drop a flavor bomb on your buttered noodles, look no further than fish sauce.

This tip is similar to the way oyster sauce is your key to an umami-packed sauce that will majorly upgrade basic spaghetti. And while it also contributes salt, this ingredient is famous for its umami flavor — a savory note that's fundamental to dishes like pad Thai and nam prik. No matter what pasta you prefer, luxurious butter is well-suited to coat your carbs, and thanks to its ability to carry flavor (a quality it shares with other fats like olive oil), the funky salinity of fish sauce blooms and brings aroma and major flavor to your pasta. And if buttered noodles are your culinary go-to because they're quick and easy to prepare, the beauty of this ingredient booster is that you get so much added flavor without more time or effort.

Read more: 7 Butter Brands You Should Buy, And 7 You Shouldn't

What Is Fish Sauce And Why Does It Work?

Dish with fish sauce on wood background
Dish with fish sauce on wood background - posmguys/Shutterstock

Fish sauce is a central ingredient to many Southeast Asian cuisines. It's essentially the liquid byproduct of fish fermentation. Fish sauce is actually made from fish combined with salt and left for between 3 months to a year. During this time, enzymes help to break down proteins and aid in the development of fish sauce's delicious signature flavor and aroma, which is salty and savory with subtle caramel notes from the concentrated natural sweetness of the fish.

Like olive oil, fish sauce can be subject to multiple pressings and graded. You can study up on what you need to know when shopping for a quality fish sauce, but if you don't have these designations top of mind, look for a clear liquid that skews more toward reddish or amber. You may want to experiment with varying points of origin, as Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, and even the Italian colatura di alici all have their own nuances.

When added to buttered pasta, the fat from the butter not only helps this umami sauce to permeate your noodle dish, it helps to soften its bite a bit. Keep in mind that while fish sauce isn't particularly fishy, it is powerful, so you need only a small amount. Start with about 1 tablespoon for 12 ounces to a pound of noodles and 4 tablespoons of butter.

Enjoying Your Fish Sauce Butter Noodles

Buttered noodles with seafood
Buttered noodles with seafood - foodstck/Shutterstock

You can enjoy this dish as is, or get creative. Fish sauce is a welcome addition to an already fish-centric dish like pasta with anchovy-walnut sauce. The combination of the salty and savory fish sauce with the slight bitterness of walnuts, the spicy chili, pungent garlic, and sweet aromatic onion is a symphony of flavors. Seafood Spaghetti di Nero would also be an ideal dish to boost with a bit of fish sauce, elevating the paprika-spiked tomato and garlic combination to the next level.

Fish sauce also traditionally pairs well with citrusy notes in lime, as well as spicy heat. And if you've ever wondered, what is compound butter and what can you use it for? This might be your new answer. By combining fish sauce with butter, along with a combination of lime zest, herbs, ginger, chilies, and sugar, you'll have an ingredient on hand in the fridge that makes it a snap to melt over noodles and call it a day. Whether you opt to keep it simple or punch it up, fish sauce will take your buttered noodles to new heights.

Read the original article on Daily Meal