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How to Make Vegan Fish Sauce

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How to Make Vegan Fish Sauce.  For a long time, I suspected that the secret to delicious Asian cuisine must be some sort of magical sauce that instantly made every food it touched more flavorful and complex. As it turns out, that sauce does exist: it is called fish sauce. Made from fermented fish (really), it has the power to give foods a whole new dimension of flavor. While it’s famously used in Asian cuisine, it is a delicious addition to all types of fare, from soups to vegetables to salad.

But fish sauce is not for everyone. Some people will choose to avoid fish for ethical or health reasons; others simply don’t like the idea of a sauce made from fish. Luckily, vegan fish sauce can allow these people to enjoy all of the flavor benefits of the sauce while adhering to their chosen diet.

Before we discuss how to make vegan fish sauce, it’s helpful to understand a little more about fish sauce and how it is used; this can help inform how to create the best vegan substitute.

What is fish sauce?  Fish sauce is made from whole fish combined with salt and water, and occasionally a few other flavorings or sugar. The ingredients are combined and aged in barrels for respectable periods–often, over a year. The mixture ferments during this time, and the sauce progresses from unforgivingly fishy in flavor to nutty and more complex. The fermentation process also discourages “bad” bacteria from forming.

What role does fish sauce play in cooking?  Fish sauce is one of those ingredients that adds umami to every dish it touches. It’s most famously used in Asian cuisines, where it can be employed as a condiment, flavoring, or as a component in sauces such as salad dressings or dips.

That having been said, fish sauce can add flavor in unexpected ways: adding a touch to your next batch of guacamole, or mixing some in with Hollandaise sauce, will show you that fish sauce is useful in a variety of different recipes.

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Why vegan fish sauce?  As previously noted, there are many reasons why a vegan fish sauce substitute might be desirable. For one, it has no animal by-products, which makes it appropriate for those on a vegan or vegetarian diet. There’s also less of an “ick” factor. Even foodies can be finicky, and not everyone is keen on the idea of a sauce made with fish. Vegan fish sauce can be the perfect substitute, allowing for the flavor but not the fish.

By using vegan soy sauce in your vegan fish sauce recipe, you will be adding a fermented ingredient to the mix, so you’ll end up with the same sort of unique, nutty flavor–but the flavor will be less fishy.

Making vegan fish sauce: what you need.  To make vegan fish sauce, you’ll need to assemble ingredients with plenty of umami. An obvious choice is mushrooms; I have adapted this recipe to include mushroom broth for the liquid, in addition to mushroom soy sauce. The mushroom soy sauce, as well as shredded seaweed and miso, should be easy to find at most Asian supermarkets.

Recipe notes: If you prefer a recipe which is less mushroom-y, you can use water or unsalted vegetable broth instead of mushroom broth.

Can’t find unsalted mushroom broth? Reduce the amount of soy sauce to ¾ cup to adjust the salt in the recipe so that you’re not creating a salt lick!

What type of seaweed should you use? The recipe I adapted called for wakame, which is an affordable and easy to find type of seaweed in Asian markets and better supermarkets.

How to make vegan fish sauce: Ready to get cooking? Here’s a delicious recipe that will yield a generous amount of vegan fish sauce.

Vegan Fish Sauce

Adapted from The Kitchn

Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded seaweed
  • 6 cups mushroom broth (unsalted if possible)
  • 5 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 cup mushroom soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons miso

Procedure

  1. Place the seaweed, mushroom broth, garlic, peppercorns in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and let the mixture simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.
  3. Strain the mixture; return the strained liquid to the pot. Add the mushroom soy sauce, and bring the mixture back to a boil. Cook until the mixture reduces to a thickened, super-salty sauce, about 3 cups total.
  4. Remove from heat, and stir in the miso for an extra je ne sais quoi.

Storing your vegan fish sauce: Store in a bottle or airtight container in your refrigerator. It will keep for up to 6 months.  In general, this mixture can be swapped for equal amounts of fish sauce in recipes, but if you are worried that the flavor might be too strong, add it a little at a time to recipes.

Dishes to make with vegan fish sauce: Now that you’ve made vegan fish sauce, how should you use it? Here are some ideas.

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Add flavor to veggies: Use a dash of vegan fish sauce to top steamed or stir-fried vegetables; serve with rice and sesame seeds.

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Make slow-cooked dishes full of flavor: Add a splash of vegan fish sauce to your next slow-cooked veggie dish or curry. It will give it an indescribable flavor which will keep everyone coming back for more!

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Use it as a flavor alternative in non-veggie recipes: Explore your favorite Asian recipes using vegan fish sauce instead of regular fish sauce. You can even use vegan fish sauce with non-vegan recipes for a unique new flavor.

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Get your noodle on: Make noodles such as the classic Indonesian dish mie goreng, which is often served with fish sauce on the side so that you can season to salty, savory perfection. While many traditional mie goreng recipes call for fish and/or chicken, you can easily veganize this recipe by omitting the meat. 

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Try it in non-Asian recipes: You don’t have to use vegan fish sauce for Asian recipes only. You can also use it to flavor sauces or dips. For instance, guacamole with a small amount of vegan fish sauce will make you a big believer in this sauce’s ability to turn everything it touches into a more interesting and flavorful food.

Do you like fish sauce, or would you prefer a vegan variety?

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How to Make Sauerkraut

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How to Make Sauerkraut

Do you love sauerkraut? Whether you say yes or no, you’re not alone. Assertively-flavored, sour-savory sauerkraut is one of those foods that people seemingly either love or despise; few people seem to take the middle ground. For a long time, I was part of the latter group. I didn’t like the look, smell, or taste of sauerkraut, and I felt like it was a travesty to wreck a perfectly good hot dog with the stuff.

But then, one day, I tried a homemade version of sauerkraut, served alongside a kielbasa platter. It was homemade, studded with caraway seeds and with a crisp texture. This sauerkraut was like an epiphany to my taste buds. It was the perfect acidic complement to the kielbasa, acting as a flavor complement and a palate cleanser to the unctuous, rich meat. Suddenly, I understood sauerkraut, and I wanted more. All it took was a well executed version of this fermented food to make me a believer.

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Pastas and Noodles from Around the World

There are a delicious variety of pastas and noodles from around the world, but what makes them so different?  What is a pasta vs. a noodle? Are pasta and noodles all the same or are there “healthy” pasta and noodles? Do you ever wonder whether you are paring the right sauce with the right noodle? Read on to learn about the different types of pasta and noodles and how they should be served.

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DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte

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There is nothing like getting a pumpkin spice latte at your favorite coffee shop in the fall. With the leaves changing and the weather cooling it triggers the inner pumpkin obsession in us all.  The problem is, you can only get it for a limited time during that time of year.

In the fall, I can get canned pumpkin for very cheap. And it being the star of my fall baking, I stock up. More often than not I end up going overboard, but that’s okay! That just means I’ll have leftovers to last me until the next sale.

I love to use canned pumpkin for whole wheat pumpkin muffins, pumpkin granola, and whole wheat pumpkin pancakes. But by far, my favorite recipe that uses canned pumpkin is this DIY pumpkin spice latte. There is nothing like a warm cup of creamy sweet goodness to take you to comfort food heaven.

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How To Make Energy Bars from Scratch

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I know it seems like spring just started, but it is already almost summer! Which means swimsuit season is only a month away. I have my eye on a super cute black bikini with pink polkadots. So if you’re anything like me, you are quitting your excuses for not going to the gym, and getting ready to look your absolute best.

During the cold months, most of us slack a little bit on eating healthy and exercising.Those holiday treats can go straight to your hips and never want to leave. Plus, those amazing salad ingredients that are available in the spring and summer are not in grocery stores or the prices skyrocket, which makes us a little less likely to buy them. So it isn’t uncommon for people to gain a few pounds.

Around this time, my friends and I spend at least 8-10 hours in the gym a week. And as you would imagine, we get pretty exhausted. So to take the edge off we swap homemade energizing snacks to get through this time. My friends bring things like kale chips, homemade fruit leather, and healthy peanut butter chocolate energy bites.

I don’t usually remember about swapping until the day it is supposed to happen, so I always end up resorting to these easy energy bars from scratch. It comes together in 25 minutes or less, and requires about 5 ingredients.

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What’s the Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream?

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Growing up by the Jersey Shore, I was raised with a healthy respect and appetite for ice cream. Along the boardwalk, the sight of ice cream shops was quite common, and you could score just about any type of ice cream, from a soft serve cone to a banana split with hot fudge sauce.

It wasn’t until later that I discovered gelato, ice cream’s European cousin. Served in cups with teeny-tiny spoons, it had a sophistication that was different from ice cream, with fancy-sounding flavors like gianduia and stracciatella.

Some people will call gelato “Italian ice cream”, or use the terms ice cream and gelato interchangeably, but it isn’t quite that simple. Although they are both part of the same creamy cold treat family, there are distinct differences between gelato and ice cream. These differences are not just cultural, but technical too–they differ in techniques and ingredients employed. Here, we’ll take a few delicious minutes to explore the difference between gelato and ice cream.

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Coveted Cuts: A Simple Guide to High End Steak Cuts

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I remember the first time I tried a so-called “fancy” steak. It was a New York Strip steak at a restaurant that felt like it harkened from a different era, where the waiters wore serious-looking suits and pulled out the chairs for you to sit. It’s the steak that stands out in my memory, though: assertively “beefy” in flavor, with a seared exterior but pink interior; incredibly tender, simply seasoned and topped with a dab of compound butter. It was simple, but every component was perfectly executed, making the experience exquisite.

Steak is often considered a special occasion food, but unlike the aforementioned strip steak, not all cuts are suitable for pan searing and serving just as-is. Some cuts of beef, like shank or brisket, are rather tough, so require slow cooking methods such as braising or stewing, and would end up chewy and unpalatable if you tried to cook them as you would a premium steak cut.

How do you identify those coveted cuts of steak that are suitable for cooking simply? Here, we’ll explore four of the premier high end steak cuts that everyone should know. These are definitely not the cuts you’d use for a humble stew.

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Easy Homemade Kimchi

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It is likely that you are familiar with sauerkraut. You probably enjoy it on your hot dogs, reuben sandwiches, and your bratwursts. Well, let me introduce you to sauerkrauts hotter older sister, kimchi.

Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean side dish with a spicy, sour flavor that has won over the hearts of many. It is traditionally fermented in jars underground for months. There are hundreds of varieties, using napa cabbage, radish, scallion, or cucumber as the main ingredient.

The first documentation of kimchi is in East Asia during the 12th century. It was adopted in Korea in the 1590’s and flourished as a staple leading it to become Korea’s national dish. Koreans consume 40 pounds per year per person, and is kimchi is now popping up in trendy restaurants across the U.S.

Kimchi contains healthy bacteria and probiotics for the overall wellness of your body. It produces healthy hair and skin, while slowing the aging process. Kimchi also helps you lose weight by boosting your metabolism.

So, kimchi is sounding pretty dang good right now, right? But…how do you eat kimchi? Well, for breakfast you could enjoy it in your scrambled eggs. For lunch you might enjoy in in your grilled cheese, on your pizza, or on a hotdog. As for dinner, kimchi is also very tasty on hamburgers, in stew, as pork and kimchi dumplings, or in a bowl of kimchi fried rice.

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The History of Brunch

When the weekend finally comes around, people line up for hours to indulge in brunch. Whether it is the eggs benedict, bloody marys, or bottomless mimosas drawing you in, brunch is a favorite meal for many. But have you ever wondered how it came to be?

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What’s the Difference: Whiskey versus Whisky?

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I don’t know about you, but I find variations on regional names to be fascinating. Why do we call them sprinkles here, jimmies there? Why do we call it soda here, pop there?

But today, we’re going to discuss the question of a difference that is subtle but amazingly widespread: what’s the difference between whisky and whiskey?

No, this is not a riddle, and it’s not a question of the intelligence of your autocorrect. Both terms are valid spellings of a type of distilled liquor. But why two spellings? And what is the stuff, exactly? Let’s explore.

What is whiskey/y?

Regardless of the e or lack thereof, the substance in question is constant: a sort of spirit made from fermented grains, which are turned into a mash and then distilled. Many types of whisk(e)y are aged, with the exception being corn-based variations, which do not always need to be aged.

Within this very general definition reside many different types of liquor which can be called whiskey or whisky. Stateside, famous variations include bourbon or rye; internationally, you might hear specific locations assigned to the liquid, including but not limited to Canadian, Irish, and Scotch.

Why are there two spellings, anyway?

There are different schools of thought on the subject. One is that it’s simply a regional variation, not unlike how we say “color” in the US but “colour” in the UK. Another thought is that it refers to where the whisk(e)y is from, so that if you spell it “whiskey” then you already have an idea of the limited regions from which it came. In this way, it’s not unlike the fact that only sparkling wine from a specific region can legally be called Champagne.

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The issue gets even trickier

In the US, the usage has not always been consistent. For much of US history, American writers used both spellings interchangeably, until style guides dictated which term to use.

As a testament to the changing times, the New York Times recently made a change in how they refer to the spirit. While they once referred to all varieties, lineage aside, as whiskey, a barrage of letters from whisky enthusiasts forced a change. The reaction was so strong that they now make all efforts possible to refer to the spirit appropriately to where it hails from. While it certainly shows respect, it must be quite a pain to spell check articles!

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When do you call it “whiskey” versus “whisky”?

At one point, I had heard that the short explanation is that it’s “whiskey” in the United States, “whisky” everywhere else. But it turns out, it’s not quite as simple.

Because while it’s a good reminder that most countries other than the U.S. refer to the stuff as “whisky”, this is not always the case. Ireland, for instance, refers to it as “whiskey” too.

Different types of whiskey and whisky

Here’s a guide to what defines popular types of whisk(e)y throughout the world, and what they are called in each place.

American whiskey: It’s definitively “whiskey” in the USA, but that can refer to a variety of different types of alcohol. They include:

  • Bourbon whiskey: made with a primarily corn-based mash
  • Malt whiskey: made primarily with malted barley
  • Rye whiskey: made primarily with a mash of rye
  • Wheat whiskey: made primarily with a mash of wheat

Australian whisky: While perhaps not the most famous of whiskies, the Australian varieties have garnered the praise of such pinkies-out institutions as the World Whiskies Awards.

Canadian whisky: In Canada, the spirits need to meet certain standards: by law, their whiskies must be produced and aged in Canada, distilled from a fermented mash of grain, aged in wood barrels not less than three years.

Danish whisky: Denmark is fairly new to the whisky scene, only starting production in the 1970s, but has come into its own. Some producers even use creative techniques like distilling on ice.

English Whisky: While Scotland and Ireland are famous for their spirited variations of whisk(e)y, several distilleries in England produce whisky. After a long hiatus (perhaps because Ireland and Scotland were getting all the glory?), England began producing the spirits anew in 2003.

German whisky (or whiskey): German varieties of the spirit are relatively new, and follow the lead of the styles produced in both Scotland (distilled at least twice) and the USA (using a variety of grains). Perhaps for this reason, “whiskey” and “whisky” are both used in the Teutonic banter.

Indian whisky: Fun fact: India consumes almost as much whisky as the rest of the world put together–more than North America and Europe put together. Typically, the mix is more like what would be called rum elsewhere, with fermented molasses being a key ingredient.

Irish whiskey: In Ireland, whiskey is typically distilled not once, not twice, but thrice, which makes it extra smooth.  By law, Irish whiskey must be produced in Ireland and aged in wooden casks for a period of no less than three years, although in practice it is usually three or four times that period.

Japanese whisky: While relatively new to the scene, Japanese whiskies have gained a reputation for quality, typically following the Scotch model. Esteemed critic Jim Murray even named a Japanese single malt whisky from the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery in as the “best in the world”.

Scotch whisky: Scotch whiskies are among the more famous: tourism related to whisky in Scotland totals millions of pounds each year, revenue generated from the 40-plus distilleries open to the public, many of which offer tours and gift shops. They are distilled at least twice, although sometimes many more times. Strict Scotch Whisky Regulations require that anything bearing the name “Scotch” be made in Scotland.

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How to remember it?

There is a helpful way to remember when you do and don’t use an “e” in the spelling: in general, countries that have an “e” in the spelling (United States; Ireland) spell it “whiskey”.

In general, countries that do not have an “e” in the spelling (Canada, Scotland) spell it “whisky”.

There are one or two exceptions to this rule, but in general, if you follow that guideline, you won’t offend any whisk(e)y enthusiasts.

And not to confuse you, but furthermore, in plural it is as follows:

whiskey = whiskeys

whisky = whiskies

It’s a fascinating cultural phenomenon to explore the difference between e versus no e in the word whisk(e)y. But far more enjoyable? Sampling an international variation of the spirited spirit that cannot be contained by just one name. Cheers!

What is your favorite whisk(e)y?

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