When summer days wane and cooler winds start to blow, who among us doesn't begin craving the hygge-centric qualities of firelit interiors and the smells of the foods of the new season filling the home? Braised meats, roasted vegetables, warm soups and stews perfume houses closed up against the cold. The question arises, though, of how you keep these classic dishes — specifically meaty stews — vibrant and interesting while still deeply satisfying. The answer might surprise you, but is right under your nose: fish sauce.
On its face, it may seem a bit more than counterintuitive to add a thin sauce made from fermented fish to a dish that generally contains beef, lamb, or other meats of the land, along with hearty vegetables. But what we're proposing is a light accent because if you've ever used it, you know of its potency. What's more, fish sauce is an absolute umami bomb. So, by adding a small amount to a relatively large stew, you can dial up the dish's savory qualities to 11. For its part, the stew, by virtue of both quantity and the assertive ingredients therein, will showcase none of the fishiness of fish sauce, simply benefitting from the umami-boosting properties it has.
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How To Add Fish Sauce To Stew
Adding fish sauce to stew is a fairly simple proposition. For illustrative purposes, we'll refer to beef stew, though lamb, chicken, or pork stews also benefit from the addition of fish sauce. But for the stew broth, after you've seared your well-marbled beef chunks, sautéed the aromatics, added in potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables, and submerged it all in red wine and beef stock, you can stir in a teaspoon or so of fish sauce for a final punch of flavor. As the pot bubbles and the meat and vegetables are rendered achingly tender, the fish sauce will season every element and help the dish develop a delightful saltiness and deep umami flavor.
If, however, fish sauce is just a bridge too far when it comes to your stews this season, there are other umami-forward ingredients that can perform much the same task. Consider adding a spoonful of soy sauce or liquid aminos, dried mushrooms, or anchovies if you don't mind the idea of fish but fish sauce isn't readily available.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.