Ask Chef Boy Ari
By Chef Boy Ari
Q: Dear CBA,
I’ve been wondering for a while what the deal is with fish sauce. How can something that smells so gross be so popular? I mean, it smells like extra-putrid rotten fish. I’ve tried cooking with it, and the food ends up tasting like fish sauce smells.
I love Thai food, and I know they use a lot of fish sauce, so I’m wondering how they get away with it?
—Not Quite Hooked
A: Dear Unhooked,
I’ve experienced the same phenomenon, so I sympathize. The trick to using fish sauce is that you add a few drops to dishes that have strong flavors in other ways, and the power of the competing flavors balances out.
La Crêpe Michel
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I cannot make a decent crêpe. And it’s not for lack of trying, let me assure you. I remember being 19 years old, standing in the industrial kitchen of my culinary school in a starchy white jacket and houndstooth pants, staring at the cracks in the mahogany-tiled floor. My least favorite instructor was publicly humiliating me for forgetting to “snap” my wrist when I flipped the pan. My lack of snap had resulted in yet another charcoal doily instead of the mouth-watering, lacy brown creation we all coveted.
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