Vegetarian “Fish” Sauce (Nước Mam Chay)

What?! “Fish” sauce without any fish? It sounds totally fishy, but you read that right.

Fish sauce an an extremely popular and versatile sauce that goes well with a variety of Vietnamese (and other Southeast Asian) dishes, such as egg rolls, spring rolls, vermicelli bowls, and broken rice dishes.

As my family practices part-time vegetarianism, this sauce has been flavoring our food during the “veggie days”, as I would like to call it; and it tastes pretty close to the real thing! I finally got my hands on a kitchen balance and was able to numerically record the amount of ingredients that would go into this sauce, instead of relying on the age-old traditional Vietnamese way of “just putting the ingredients in until the voices of our ancestors say ‘that is good enough, my child”.

This sauce is perfect for vegetarians or people who generally don’t like the smell and taste that traditional fish sauce brings. This special and unique sauce has been with my family for years and I am so proud and excited to be able to have learnt this from my mom and to be able to share it with you all.

Ingredients (for ~60 oz of sauce)
-5 (12 fl oz) cans of coconut soda
-95 grams (3.4 oz) of table salt
-255 grams (9.0 oz) of cane sugar
-280 grams (9.9 oz) of lemon juice (include the lemon pulps)
-105 grams of chili paste (you can add more if you want it spicier)
-1 tsp of coconut caramel cooking sauce (Nước Màu Dừa); this helps to give the sauce the “fish sauce” color

Useful tools
-Kitchen balance/scale

Procedure
1) Add the five cans of coconut soda to a pot or other sauce-containing vessel
2) Add 90 g of table salt and 245 g cane sugar and mix to dissolve all solids
3) Add 1 tsp coconut caramel cooking sauce and mix.
4) Add 105 grams of chili paste and mix
5) Serve with egg rolls, spring rolls, or any other dish you normally would serve with fish sauce.

Observations
-You can store this sauce in the freezer for a really long time. Just thaw when you are ready to use.
-You can add more chilies to amp up the heat
-You can add more/less caramel sauce to brighten or darken your sauce.

References/Useful Links
Vietnamese Vegetarianism and Full Moon Cycles

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