We're Nate Tate and Mary Kate Tate, a brother and sister cookbook author team obsessed with all things China. We create authentic and accessible Chinese recipes for home cooks. See more...

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Fish sauce 鱼露 (yú lù)

Popular throughout Southeast Asia, fish sauce is a thin, amber-colored liquid made from salt and fermented fish. It is typically used as a flavor enhancer in soups and sauces. At first whiff it smells like dirty socks, but when it is combined with other ingredients its unpleasant smell disappears and it brings out a dish’s natural umami flavor. We like to add a dash of fish sauce to non-Asian dishes, like spaghetti Bolognese, to increase their flavor. It is sold bottled at Asian grocery stores.

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