Swap Salt With Fish Sauce For An Umami-Rich Vinaigrette

jar of vinaigrette next to a bowl of salad
jar of vinaigrette next to a bowl of salad - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

Elevate your next vinaigrette to bold new heights with a dash of umami from under the sea. Simply replace the salt in your recipe with a few dashes of fish sauce, a staple condiment of Asian cuisine, and taste the difference. Fish sauce is typically made from fish that contains high oil content such as anchovy, which is salted, fermented, and pressed to perfection, accounting for a high salt content and potent fish flavor. While we'd argue this rich and complex sauce can boost the flavor of almost any meal, it's a particularly flavorful secret weapon for salad dressing, adding a rich and savory complexity to practically any vinaigrette.

Be sure to select the correct fish sauce for your vinaigrette, as there are many different types of fish sauce from around the world and no two brands are exactly alike. For example, Tuk-Trey from Cambodia boasts a complex flavor profile which hits on each of the five major tastes of sweet, salty, acidic, umami, and spicy, making it a well-rounded option no matter what you are pairing it with. And Shottsuru from Japan, made mostly from sandfish, has a much milder flavor in contrast that may make it a good option for lighter or creamier vinaigrettes. It's truly a matter of taste, careful experimentation, and understanding your personal preferences.

Read more: The 20 Best Olive Oils For Cooking

Try This Salty Swap On A Variety Of Salads

small dish of fish sauce on a wooden table
small dish of fish sauce on a wooden table - posmguys/Shutterstock

Considering the concentration of saltiness and fishy flavor, with fish sauce, less is more. You can always add more fish sauce but removing it would prove difficult. So start by adding just a few drops, and taste as you go to adjust until you reach a flavor balance you like.

There are endless ways to use fish sauce vinaigrettes to boost your salads. You could start with a similar flavor profile, replacing fish sauce for salt in the vinaigrette for a salmon salad. The pungent fish sauce will compliment the already fish-based dish while providing a richer overall taste. You could try a vinaigrette version of a creamy Caesar dressing with a fish sauce to bring out the traditional anchovy taste but with a lighter texture. Or consider our Almond-Crusted Chicken Kale Salad With Cider Vinaigrette recipe: the addition of fish sauce in place of salt can add a new layer of complexity and compliment the other acidic ingredients of lemon juice and dijon mustard. Experiment with fish sauce in all your favorite vinaigrettes, and you'll just might be pleasantly surprised by the myriad of ways it can your salads from simple to savory and satisfying.

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