Have you ever had a meal that made you close your eyes and savor each bite? I remember the most delicious meal I had at a Thai restaurant, where every dish was bursting with flavor. One dish, in particular, stood out to me – it had a unique taste that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
That dish I ordered at the Thai restaurant was none other than the famous Tom Yum Soup! As soon as I took the first spoonful, my taste buds were hit with an explosion of flavors.
The soup was spicy, sour, and savory, with a depth that I wondered if it came from garlic? Soy sauce? After some research, I discovered that the secret to this heavenly soup was fish paste.
I was surprised to find out that fish paste could add so much complexity and flavor to a dish, especially one as beloved as Tom Yum Soup.
It just goes to show that fish paste is not only one of the most popular condiments in the world, but it can also transform your meals into something truly special.
In this article, we’ll explore the wonders of fish paste and how to use it to enhance your meals. From its complex flavors to its versatile uses, fish paste is truly one of the most popular condiments in the world.
What is fish paste?
Fish paste is a staple ingredient in many Southeast Asian cuisines, including Thai, Vietnamese, and Malaysian. This condiment is made by grinding or blending dried fish into a fine paste.
While the thought of fish paste might not sound appealing to some, it is a popular ingredient that has been used for centuries.
In Southeast Asia, fish paste is often used as a seasoning and a base for sauces and dips. From Tom Yum Soup to fish cakes, the use of fish paste gives these dishes their distinctive flavor and aroma.
In fact, the demand for fish paste is so high that the industry is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. According to a report by Future Market Insights, the global fish paste market is projected to reach over $600 million by 2031.
What are the health benefits of fish paste?
Did you know that fish paste is packed with nutrients? It is an excellent source of protein, providing around 20 grams per 100 grams of fish paste.
Additionally, fish paste is rich in vitamin B12, which is essential for maintaining healthy nerve cells and red blood cells.
The condiment also contains trace minerals, such as iron and calcium, which are important for bone health. Fish paste also contains dietary fiber, which can help improve digestion and promote feelings of fullness.
How is fish paste made?
Fish paste is made by cleaning and deboning fresh fish. They can be ocean fish or freshwater fish. Then, the fish is mixed with salt, sugar, and rice flour.
Rice flour can be substituted for other thickeners like tapioca starch or cornstarch. Variations of fish paste are numerous. Sometimes tomato paste or other spices are added to give it more depth and flavor.
The mixture is then ground up into a mixture of pulverized fish. A blender or food processor works well for this. Once the fish mixture looks more like a paste, it is left alone to ferment.
During the fermentation process, the mixture is heated until it thickens and develops a strong smell. After fermentation, the paste is dried in the sun or in an oven.
Try our recipe for traditional Thai fish paste! You will want to make this over and over!
Making traditional Thai fish paste at home is a bit of a process, but it can be a rewarding and delicious experience. Here are the ingredients and the directions:
- 1 pound of white fish fillets, such as mackerel or cod
- 1/4 cup of chopped garlic
- 1/4 cup of chopped shallots
- 1/4 cup of sliced lemongrass or use lemongrass paste
- 1/4 cup of chopped galangal (or ginger)
- 1/4 cup of kaffir lime zest, chopped
- Several (to your taste) Thai bird’s eye chilies, or chilies of choice chopped
- 1 tablespoon of shrimp paste (optional)
- Tapioca starch (can use potato starch as well) Add until paste is the desired consistency
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- Cut the fish fillets into small pieces and place them in a bowl.
- In a food processor, blend the garlic, shallots, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime zest, and chilies until they form a smooth paste.
- Add the paste to the fish and mix well. Mix in the tapioca starch
- Add the shrimp paste (if using) and salt to the mixture and mix until well combined.
- Transfer the mixture to a large mortar and pound with a pestle until it becomes a smooth paste.
- Transfer the paste to a container and let it ferment for about 24 hours at room temperature, or until the desired level of sourness is achieved.
- Once fermented, the paste can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Note: Be sure to handle the chilies with care, as they can be quite spicy and irritate your skin and eyes.
It is also recommended to wear gloves while handling the fish paste, as it can have a strong smell that can linger on your skin.
Incorporate fish paste into your current meals for a new twist.
For a real flavor punch, add fish paste to your dishes. This intensely flavored ingredient is made from grinding up fish, and it can be used in a variety of ways.
A little bit of fish paste goes a long way, so start with a small amount and then add more to taste. Use it to add depth of flavor to soups and stews, or mix it into ground meat for burgers or meatballs.
You can even spread it on toast or crackers for a quick snack. Fish paste is an easy way to add some serious savory flavor to your cooking.
How to make a fish paste sandwich?
Fish paste is a flavorful condiment that goes well with a variety of sandwich ingredients. Here are some ingredients that would pair well with fish paste as a spread:
The cool, crisp texture of cucumbers complements the rich and savory flavor of fish paste.
- Lettuce or greens
Adding lettuce or other leafy greens to a fish paste sandwich can provide a refreshing crunch and balance out the flavors.
- Red onion
- Lemon or lime juice
Overall, there are many ingredients that can complement fish paste as a sandwich spread. Feel free to experiment with different combinations to find your perfect fish paste sandwich.
Video: How to make traditional Thai fish paste at home
Flavors of Asia shows you how to make your own fish paste the traditional way using just a simple cleaver.
What Can You Do With Fish Paste?
Fish paste is a centuries-old condiment enjoyed in many different cultures around the world. The condiment is made by grinding fish, often little ones like anchovies, into a blend and adding salt and seasonings.
The paste can be used in a variety of ways, such as a spread on bread or crackers, an ingredient in soup or stew, or a filling for dumplings or spring rolls.
Most Asian dumplings have fish paste in the filling.
Fish paste is also a popular base for making sauces and marinades. While the taste of fish paste can vary depending on the type of fish used and the seasonings added, it typically has a strong, salty flavor with a slightly fishy smell.
It’s relatively easy to make, doesn’t require any special ingredients, and has a rich and hearty flavor that can add a serious depth of flavor to your food.
Some recipes use fish paste in a way that we would use hamburger. It can be used in larger amounts, like stuffing for peppers, or as a flavor accent in smaller amounts, depending on how it is aged and depending on the recipe.
The popularity of fish paste in different countries
Fish paste is a popular condiment and seasoning in different parts of the world. In Asia, it’s most commonly used as a flavor enhancer and as a source of nutrients. In the United States, fish paste is most commonly found in Southeast Asian restaurants. It’s also gaining popularity in Europe, where it’s used as a condiment or seasoning.
This paste is used to add flavor to various dishes. Fish paste is especially popular in East Asia, where it’s used in a variety of dishes, from soup to soy sauce to rice. Gelatin or starch in the fish binds the flavors together, resulting in a flavorful product that is easy to work with.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there any other way that I can use fish paste in my cooking?
Fish paste is a popular ingredient in many dishes in Japan, but you can use it in your home kitchen in many different ways as well. Add some excitement and flavor to your dishes with fish paste—you won’t regret it! Here are just a few examples:
- It can be used as a condiment.
- Create a flavor-rich sauce for rice.
- Add it to your noodles.
- Use it as a condiment for vegetables or meat.
- Make fish balls.
- Make tofu recipes stand out.
How can I use fish paste to add serious flavor to my cooking?
Adding fish paste or fermented fish products in general to your cooking can add flavor worth talking about to your meals. Some great recipes that you can try that include fish paste include:
- Combine it with the curry.
- Add it to your next dumpling filling, mixing it with your regular ingredients.
- Add it to stir-fries.
- Eggplant dishes
- Spread it on crackers for snacks.
Concluding remarks on the magic of fish paste
In conclusion, if you want to add an extra burst of savory flavor to your dishes, give our homemade fish paste recipe a try. With just a few simple ingredients and a bit of patience, you can transform your ordinary meals into extraordinary culinary experiences.
Whether you’re using it as a sandwich spread, a dip, or a seasoning for your favorite recipes, fish paste is a versatile ingredient that will elevate your dishes to the next level. So go ahead and give it a try – your taste buds will thank you!
Sources and further reading on fish paste
1.”Thai Fermented Fish Paste”: https://www.pastemagazine.com/food/thai-fermented-fish-paste/
- “A Guide to Fermented Shrimp and Fish Pastes in Southeast Asian Cooking”: https://www.saveur.com/fermented-shrimp-fish-pastes-southeast-asian-cooking/
- “Nam Pla Ra – The Magic of Thai Fermented Fish Paste”: https://www.mychiangmaieverything.com/nam-pla-ra-thai-fermented-fish-paste/
- “Try These Amazing Thai Dishes Made with Fermented Fish Paste”: https://migrationology.com/thai-dishes-made-with-fermented-fish-paste/
- “Exploring Umami: Thai Fermented Fish Paste”: https://cookingdistrict.com/cd/general.nsf/blogbydate/852578CF000187B48525790D006F5806?opend
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