Your Melted Butter Needs Fish Sauce

In regards to fishy flavor enhancers, fermented Southeast Asian fish sauce is my outright favorite. I like a tinned anchovy, particularly when combined with a mess of slow-cooked garlic, but fish sauce has a much deeper, more tasty, practically caramelized flavor that keeps my mouth interested and participated in whatever I put it on. Plus, it’s already in a practical liquid kind, making it easy to splash into vinaigrettes, marinades, pasta sauce, chili, and melted butter.

Fish sauce butter is as easy to make as soy sauce butter, and it is– in my opinion– a bit more intriguing. Just like soy sauce butter, it’s salty and umami-forward, but the saltiness is brinier and the umami is funkier. It likewise requires far less sauce, as the flavor is rather noticable, though it is mellowed a bit by the richness of the butter.


To make fish sauce butter, all you have to do is melt 2 tablespoons of butter, either on the stover or in the microwave, then blend in a teaspoon (or more) of fish sauce, depending upon how funky you want your butter to be. If you have a bit more time on your hands, you can brown the butter and then whisk in the fish sauce for a deeper, nuttier taste, though you might want to up the sauce content to two teaspoons so its flavor isn’t overpowered. You can also sprinkle in a little sugar (brown or white) to offer it a sweet counterpoint to play off of, or swirl in hot sauce to add some heat.

Any iteration of fish sauce butter will be good on popcorn– simply drizzle it on and toss to coat like you would plain melted butter– however it’s equally delicious with steamed artichokes, pasta, any roasted vegetable, and sautéed shrimp. I ‘d put it on a lobster roll too, offered the opportunity, New England norms be damned.

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