Yes, this is microwave popcorn.  It's all I hadYes, this is microwave popcorn. It’s all I had Photo: Claire Lower

In terms of fishy flavor enhancers, fermented Southeast Asian fish sauce is my all-time favorite. I love canned anchovies, especially in combination with a mess of slow cooked garlic, but fish sauce has a deeper, heartier, almost caramelized taste that interests my mouth and engages with whatever I put on it. Plus, it’s already in a convenient liquid form so it’s easy to add to vinaigrettes, marinades, Pasta sauce, chiliand melted butter.

Illustration for article titled Your Melted Butter Needs Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is as easy to make as butter Soy sauce butterand it’s – in my opinion – a bit more interesting. Similar to soy butter, it’s salty and umami-forward, but the saltyness is brinier and the umami is funky. It also requires a lot less sauce as the flavor is quite pronounced, though somewhat tempered by the richness of the butter.

To make fish sauce butter, all you have to do is melt two tablespoons of butter on either the stove or the microwave, then stir in a teaspoon (or more) of fish sauce, depending on how funky you want your butter to be. If you have a little extra time, you can brown the butter and then stir in the fish sauce for a deeper, nuttier flavor. However, you may want to increase the sauce content to two teaspoons so the taste isn’t overwhelmed. You can also sprinkle a little sugar (brown or white) for a sweet counterpoint to play off, or toss in hot sauce to add some warmth.

Any repetition of fish sauce butter is good for popcorn – just drizzle and toss to coat like you were using just melted butter – but it’s just as delicious with steamed artichokes, noodles, roasted vegetables, and sauteed shrimp. I would put it on a lobster bun too if there is a chance the New England norms are damned.

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