Are you a fan of kimchi but unsure about which type of fish sauce to use in your recipe?
With so many different varieties available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. Some sources claim that only Korean fish sauce will properly ferment the cabbage, while others argue that any type of anchovy-based fish sauce will do the trick. And what about using soy sauce instead?
In this article, we’ll explore the world of fish sauce and kimchi and answer the burning question: Can I use Thai fish sauce to make kimchi?
Get ready to dive into the delicious and complex flavors of this beloved Korean dish.
Can I Use Thai Fish Sauce To Make Kimchi?
The short answer is yes, you can use Thai fish sauce to make kimchi. While some may argue that only Korean fish sauce will properly ferment the cabbage, the truth is that any type of anchovy-based fish sauce will work.
Fish sauce is a key ingredient in many Southeast and East Asian cuisines, including Indonesian, Burmese, Cambodian, Filipino, Thai, Lao, and Vietnamese. It is made by fermenting anchovies and salt, resulting in a liquid condiment that adds a savory umami flavor to dishes.
When it comes to making kimchi, fish sauce is not necessary for fermentation. Cabbage alone provides enough bacteria food for the fermentation process. However, fish sauce does add a delicious depth of flavor to the dish.
Thai fish sauce is pasteurized and does not continue to ferment after bottling, unlike Korean fish sauce which remains active in its fermentation process. This means that while Korean fish sauce can aid in controlled fermentation of kimchi, Thai fish sauce will not have the same effect.
If you choose to use Thai fish sauce in your kimchi recipe, keep in mind that the flavor may be slightly different than if you were to use Korean fish sauce. Additionally, if you prefer a vegetarian or vegan option, soy sauce can be used as a substitute for fish sauce.
Understanding Fish Sauce: Types And Varieties
Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in many Southeast and East Asian cuisines, but not all fish sauces are created equal. The type and quality of fish sauce can greatly impact the flavor of your dish.
The most important thing to look for when purchasing fish sauce is the ingredient list. Look for a brand that contains only anchovies and salt, without any added preservatives or flavorings. Red Boat fish sauce is a popular brand that meets these criteria and can be found at many retailers in the United States.
There are also different varieties of fish sauce from different regions. Korean fish sauce, also known as anchovy sauce, is made with fermented anchovies and is typically used in kimchi making to accelerate the fermentation process. It is still active in its fermentation after bottling, which makes it ideal for controlled fermentation.
Thai fish sauce, on the other hand, has had its fermentation process artificially stopped and will not cause or aid controlled fermentation. It is still a delicious addition to dishes, but may not have the same impact on fermentation as Korean fish sauce.
Other types of fish sauce include Vietnamese nuoc mam and Filipino patis, both of which are made with anchovies and salt but may have slightly different flavors due to variations in the fermentation process.
Ultimately, the type of fish sauce you choose to use in your recipe will depend on personal preference and availability. Just remember to read the ingredient list and choose a high-quality brand for the best results.
The Role Of Fish Sauce In Kimchi Fermentation
Fish sauce plays a crucial role in the fermentation process of kimchi. The bacteria from the anchovies in the fish sauce helps accelerate the fermentation of the pickled cabbage, resulting in a tangy and flavorful dish. Additionally, fish sauce acts as a preservative, allowing the kimchi to last for longer periods of time.
While any type of anchovy-based fish sauce can be used in kimchi, it is important to choose a brand that has only anchovies and salt as ingredients. Thai fish sauce, which is readily available in most grocery stores, can be used in place of Korean fish sauce. However, it is important to note that Thai fish sauce is pasteurized and will not aid in controlled fermentation like Korean fish sauce does.
When using fish sauce in kimchi, it is recommended to use 1-3 tablespoons for a one-quart batch of kimchi. The intense salty flavor of fish sauce balances the other flavors of kimchi wonderfully. In addition to kimchi, fish sauce can also be used in soups, spring rolls, and as a seasoning for fried rice or marinades.
Korean Fish Sauce Vs. Other Anchovy-Based Fish Sauces
While Thai fish sauce is a popular option for many Southeast Asian dishes, it is important to note that it is not the same as Korean fish sauce. Korean fish sauce, also known as anchovy sauce, is made with fermented anchovies and is still active in its fermentation process after bottling. This means that it can aid in controlled fermentation of kimchi and other dishes, while Thai fish sauce cannot.
Furthermore, Korean fish sauce has a distinct flavor from that of Thai fish sauce. This may not make a significant difference in some dishes, but for kimchi, where the flavor profile is crucial, it is important to use the correct type of fish sauce.
If you cannot find Korean fish sauce or have dietary restrictions that prevent you from using seafood-based sauces, there are alternatives. Soy sauce can be used as a substitute for fish sauce in kimchi and other dishes. Additionally, some vegan kimchi recipes use miso paste or soybean paste to add umami flavor.
Using Soy Sauce As A Substitute For Fish Sauce In Kimchi
Soy sauce is a great alternative to fish sauce in kimchi, especially for those who prefer a vegetarian or vegan option. Soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans, water, salt, and wheat, and it adds a rich umami flavor with a hint of sweetness to the dish.
To use soy sauce as a substitute for fish sauce in kimchi, start by marinating the cabbage in a mixture of 1/2 cup soy sauce (instead of 1/4 cup fish sauce or water), 2 tablespoons minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon grated ginger for about 30 minutes. After marinating, put the cabbage in a clean container and turn it over after 20 minutes to allow even fermentation. Repeat this process three times before placing the cabbage in the refrigerator. Turn over the cabbage once or twice a day to promote fermentation and place it back in the refrigerator when not turning over.
It’s important to note that while soy sauce can be used as a substitute for fish sauce, the flavor may be slightly different. Fish sauce has a more aromatic and flavorful taste compared to soy sauce. Additionally, both soy sauce and fish sauce contain high amounts of sodium, so it’s important to use them in moderation.
Using Thai Fish Sauce In Kimchi: Pros And Cons
Using Thai fish sauce in kimchi has both pros and cons.
– Thai fish sauce adds a unique, savory umami flavor to kimchi that cannot be replicated with other ingredients.
– It is a common ingredient in many Southeast Asian cuisines, so using it in kimchi can add an authentic touch to the dish.
– Thai fish sauce is readily available in most grocery stores, making it an easy ingredient to find.
– Thai fish sauce is not traditionally used in Korean kimchi, so using it may result in a slightly different flavor profile than what is expected from traditional kimchi.
– Thai fish sauce is pasteurized and does not continue to ferment after bottling, which means it may not aid in controlled fermentation of the kimchi like Korean fish sauce would.
– Some people may have dietary restrictions or preferences that prevent them from using fish-based products, making Thai fish sauce an unsuitable ingredient for them.
Tips For Using Fish Sauce In Your Kimchi Recipe
When using fish sauce in your kimchi recipe, it is important to choose a high-quality brand that contains only fish and salt. Avoid brands that contain added sugars, preservatives, MSG, or other additives.
While Korean fish sauce is traditionally used in kimchi recipes, any anchovy-based fish sauce will work. Thai fish sauce is a popular choice and can be found in most grocery stores.
When adding fish sauce to your kimchi paste, start with a small amount and adjust to taste. Generally, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce per 1 head of cabbage is a good starting point.
If you prefer a milder flavor, reduce the amount of fish sauce or use a combination of fish sauce and soy sauce.
Remember that fish sauce is not necessary for fermentation and can be omitted from the recipe if desired. Cabbage alone provides enough bacteria food for the fermentation process.