Yesterday, I ate Brussels sprouts for lunch. Brussels sprouts with fish sauce on them. That was an interesting way of combining two reviled foods into one dish.
Have you ever tasted fish sauce by itself? The Red Boat Fish Sauce I had was bright red and beautiful. I couldn't resist tasting a swig, because when you looked at it, you thought, now that's going to taste really great!
Here's the thing, you're not supposed to eat fish sauce by itself. The appearance makes you want to pour yourself a glass, but that would be like drinking Worcestershire or soy sauce. Fish sauce is made from fermented anchovies. The Vietnamese name for fish sauce translates to salted fish water. Upon tasting it, you'll recognize the flavor from sauces and curries.
I adapted this David Chang (of Momofuku) recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts. I tossed the sprouts with some olive oil and roasted them at 425º for about 25 minutes. I mixed fish sauce, water, sugar, garlic, cayenne, and Chinese Five-Spice powder and tossed the sprouts in that. I added a little bacon, just because.
The dish was good and just screamed Thai/Southeast Asian. After using that fish sauce, my house smells like Thai Pepper, which was unusual since I don't cook many ethnic foods at home.
Final verdict: If you have picky eaters who say they don't like Brussels sprouts, this is probably not the recipe that will convert them. I think I'll save the fish sauce for a curry, and I'll stick to a more traditional roasted Brussels sprouts recipe like the Barefoot Contessa's, which I could eat twice a week. Fish sauce is good for cooking, not for drinking.