After making the Japanese vegan soy sauce concentrate from Elizabeth Andoh’s new Kansha cookbook, I tried using it to concoct a vegetarian version of the basic Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce. Right off the bat, I realized that I could just dilute the vegan soy concentrate to make a vegetarian fish sauce. It was dull tasting, like the bottled veggie nuoc mam that I discussed a while back.
I had to doctor up the soy concentrate to best utilize its umami-ness without letting its soy sauce flavor become too pronounced. Given that, I aimed for a fish sauce-less alternative to nuoc cham, the ubiquitous dipping sauce served with rice paper rolls (goi cuon), bun rice noodle bowls, etc.
What I came up with looked like a dark version of the basic nuoc cham dipping sauce but wasn’t as punchy. That is just fine because Vietnamese vegetarian food has a light flavor profile. I’ve had similar dipping sauces that were much lighter in flavor and color.
To test the vegetarian fish sauce dipping sauce out, I dipped a few raw herb leaves into it and tasted. It was quite serviceable. Then I tried out the sauce on my skeptical husband, Rory.