Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fermented Fish Sauce and Ketchup

My family was ready to have me committed a few weeks ago. I brought home a fish head, in hopes of making my own fish sauce. I never would have considered making homemade fish sauce (nor did I even know it was a possibility), but for the ketchup recipe in Nourishing Traditions. The ketchup is my favorite - I can't even look at Heinz anymore. I've made it twice, and a quart lasts about three months. Each time, I used commercial fish sauce. In my never-ending quest to get closer to the ground, I decided to take the plunge and make my own sauce. I should have taken pictures.

I had a huge fish head and just started hacking away at it. The knife I was using was dull. The whole thing bordered on comical and revolting. Mark came home and screamed at me. My mother practically kicked me out, and when I "surprised" my brother with the finished product (little Nemo's left eye in a jar), he almost beat me. But today, three weeks later, I strained the chopped fish head and caught the remained liquid for my ketchup. I have to say, it smelled like someone left their pet turtle to rot in the sun for a few weeks. I even considered twisting the lid back on and throwing the jar away, but I couldn't throw away all that work. Plus, I knew the nutritional benefits of fish eyes and brains had to be pretty stellar. (If you'd like the recipe for fermented fish sauce, just let me know!)

I made the ketchup this evening, but I have to let it ferment for two days before putting it in the fridge and opening it. Here is the recipe, and remember that it comes out beautifully with the un-smelly, labor un-intensive commercial fish sauce.

3 cups of organic tomato paste (4 small cans)
1/2 cup of organic 100% maple syrup
1 T sea salt
1/2 cup of fermented fish sauce (homemade or commercial)
3 cloves of garlic mashed and chopped(but I like to add more sometimes)
1/4 cup of whey
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix everything together, put in a wide mouth mason jar, and let it ferment for a few days at room temperature. Transfer to cold storage and enjoy!

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