Two for one: Fish sauce

In the third of her series of recipes for store cupboard ‘lurkers’, Rosie Lovell experiments with fish sauce…

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I’m well aware that not everyone has found many uses for, or even likes, this mysterious and fishy-smelling elixir. Made from fermented fish, frankly it’s a hard sell. I first started using it at university with a Nigella Lawson recipe for a Vietnamese chicken salad. Fixed on hosting a perfect banquet, I headed off to the nearest Asian supermarket, bought a massive bottle of fish sauce, opened it with excitement and quickly gagged and retched with shock at the frankly horrid smell lurking within. But once added to Nige’s salad the whole dish came together. It really is the X factor. The trouble is that people are scared of it, and tend to use it only in Asian recipes. Here I’ve devised a couple of surprising uses for fish sauce to get you thinking outside of the box.



This vegetable is abundant right now and makes the perfect winter salad. The fish sauce provides the necessary salty savoury kick. Use enough to give it a kick. Don’t be shy. The strong dressing with naturally macerate the kale.  Serve with bangers and mash.

250g kale. Nour Cash and Carry are currently stocking it.

2 oranges, juiced

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Carefully slice out the main vein in the kale leaves and discard, shredding the green leaves finely with a sharp knife. Mix together the orange juice, fish sauce and olive oil. Pour over the kale and mix well so that it is coated. Leave to sit and macerate for a few hours to soften.


This really hits the spot. If you want to go the whole hog, make some mini kebabs stacked up with pickles and nestle on the top of your bloody marys.

50ml vodka

2 tsp fish sauce

½ lemon, juiced

6 dashes Worcester sauce

1 tbsp chilli jam

1 tsp Tabasco sauce

120ml tomato juice

ice, lemon wedges, celery sticks and pepper to serve.

In a big jar with a fitting lid, measure out all the ingredients. Place the lid on  tightly and give it a good shake. Pour over ice in a large tumbler. Easy.

Rosie Lovell runs Rosie’s Deli Cafe, 14 Market Row. You can buy her book ‘Spoon With Rosie’ online here and find her on and