My first romantic adventure with fish sauce was on a first date in Los Angeles. I was grabbing an iced tea because it was UNGODLY hot that day…and I needed a quick break from all of the walking. I stopped in a “just opened pub” and apparently he was watching me for a few minutes. A buddy of his was the owner…so he was already in there with his biscotti and cold drink. He watched me as I took a couple of pics…and I was aware of it…but didn’t look up, because part of me is still shy when I first meet a new guy. I looked up for a brief moment and smiled at him…then went back to what I was doing. In that very second, he walked over to me and sat down and we talked…smiled…laughed..smiled and talked. We talked about life, food, zip lining, love, LA, New York, Chicago, the beach, first dates…etc..then he had an idea.
“My buddy owns this amazing pho restaurant. Ever have pho?” “I’ve heard of it and I may have had it once in Philly, but it didn’t make an impression on me”. “Oh this will”.
That night, we met at this restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard…it was partially outdoors and partially indoors…so of course, I wanted to be outside. He asked if I had any allergies, so I told him (shrimp, crab & lobster…TRAVESTY), so he ordered three different pho so we could try all three together. There was a comfort and ease being around him. I’m usually not one to share food unless I am 100% comfortable with the person…but there was something about him. It was effortless to converse with him and he seemed to care about giving me the best experience, so I could write about it in my blog.
Now….here it was….the three bowls of pho…beef, chicken and pork… and I knew this would be a new experience. I saw the lime wedge and squeezed it on top and gave it a gentle mix. I never put lime in my soup ever…so this was new. I took my first large spoonful…and the flavors exploded in my mouth. It was sour…sweet…spicy…salty. I looked up at him, as he flirtatiously smiled at me, while watching me. “What is that sour…it’s not just the lime…what is that?” “It’s fish sauce… One of the most influential staples in Vietnamese cuisine”. “Fish Sauce?”
I heard of it…I knew it existed…but it was creating taste sensations that I never felt in my life! I realized…this was one of the reasons why I was meant to be there in that moment. I met this wonderful man who wanted me to write about the amazing culinary landscape in LA…and there I was…opening my eyes to something new. I probably tried pho several times, but didn’t pay attention or care, because culinary diversity wasn’t a focus of mine back in those days. Now, my eyes were open…I was taking in this experience of the lit outside of this small, cozy restaurant…this beautiful man sitting across from me…and these sour noodles with a Thai pepper and jalapeno mingled in with every few bites. I have to say…this was by far the most beautiful, sensual memory of my Los Angeles trip. I can’t wait to come back here and have this feeling one more time!
- Fish sauce should be used in moderation to create a complex salty, sour undertone. It can be used in soups, sauces, pastas, etc
- Recommendation – “The Fish Sauce Cookbook” by Veronica Meewes