Funky, umami-rich fish sauce is the one ingredient we can't live without. Seven chefs who share our current obsession dish on how to deploy it best and add incredible depth to savory recipes.

By Paula Disbrowe: My husband and I have this running joke. When I'm dashing off to the market or jotting down a grocery list, he'll say, "Be sure to get fish sauce." The thing is, we already have several bottles in the cupboard. In the past, I've used the ingredient sporadically-say, when trying out a new Asian recipe. And then by the time I need it again, I forget we're stocked and buy more. That's about to change.


According to some of the country's most inventive chefs, fish sauce-the pungent, salty liquid extracted from fermented anchovies and salt-is something you should reach for nearly every day. We're not just talking pad Thai here, folks. True, fish sauce is an essential ingredient in various Southeast Asian cuisines, where it's used as a marinade, a flavor enhancer during the cooking process, and a condiment. But as the following recipes reveal, the sauce's deeply savory intensity makes it a stealth flavor booster that can add depth as well as that elusive little something extra to countless dishes in your current recipe repertoire. And yes, a little bit goes a long way.