Nuoc mam or fish sauce is an essential ingredient in Vietnamese cooking. It is also widely used in the Philippines (known as patis) and in Thailand (nam pla). It is made from fermented salted fish or shrimps and is rich brown in color with a pungent fishy aroma and an intense salty flavor. In these countries, fish sauce is used in the same way the Chinese use soy sauce. In addition to its role as a seasoning ingredient in stir-fries it can be used to dress salads and add flavor to marinades or dipping sauces. This recipe is a fusion Chinese-Vietnamese stir fry using quintessential Chinese ingredients such as garlic and ginger with succulent tiger shrimp and crunchy Napa cabbage finished off with fish sauce and aromatic Chinese black rice vinegar for a subtle edge and – for a touch of fragrance – not the usual cilantro but Thai basil. It is served with Chinese egg-fried rice and is ready in minutes!
© 2006 Ching-He Huang. All rights reserved.