Never one to shy away from complex flavors, basil beef is a dish you can always count on for a satisfying meal. Although the meat and the herbs are already enticing on their own, it's the seasoning that brings them to life. You'll often find hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and a few intense spices in the recipe, promising a deeply savory, intricately umami taste. If there's anything else that can be added for even more decadence, however, it's fish sauce.
This condiment is derived from fermented fish, offering a briny, pungent taste with a thickly sweet undertone. The scent may be a bit off-putting at first, but don't let that deter you. With just the right amount, fish sauce can transform the dish without completely altering its profile. Uniquely striking, it's your easy shortcut to a flavorful, complex basil beef that's both vibrant and comforting. It plays right into the basil's aromatic notes and the beef's savory richness, plus perfectly harmonizing with the remaining condiments' sweet, umami hints. What comes off the pan is a delicious dish steaming with irresistible fragrances and an equally divine taste.
This addition not only works marvelously with the original dish but also with other variations. In these Thai basil beef rolls, the fish sauce brings a special intrigue, giving them the best of both worlds — a featherlight freshness and interesting flavors. The case is also true with the salad, lettuce wrap, or any other rendition you may come up with.
How To Incorporate Fish Sauce Into Basil Beef
Much like any other condiment, there are quite a few fish sauce varieties to choose from. They're mostly regionally based, so you may find different nuances in ones from Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, or other Asian countries. The Vietnamese version tends to lean on the mild, sweet side whereas Thai and Filipino sauces may be heavier and more intense. Considering basil beef is a Thai dish, Thai fish sauce might be the most fitting choice. That said, depending on what your preferences are and how pronounced you'd like the flavors to be, you can choose accordingly and work out the ratio for yourself.
Needless to say, a little goes a long way with fish sauce. When working with this condiment, use it sparingly and be careful to not go overboard. Add a small amount at first and keep tasting, and make sure to adjust the other seasonings as well, until everything reaches the desired balance. You may be able to forego salt entirely since the sauce itself is already decently salty. Some other ingredients you can add are bird's eye chili, lemongrass, ginger, or lime juice. They're classic companions of fish sauce and will work just as well in a basil beef dish.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.