A Splash Of Fish Sauce Adds An Umami Punch To Your Cookies

You may already have a favorite cookie recipe you rely on to impress family and friends but to make it even more delectable, the world of savory condiments holds the key. Follow the lead of pastry chefs and explore the possibilities offered by unconventional seasonings to create elevated and more surprising flavor profiles for your cookies. 

A popular condiment across Southeast Asia, the amber-colored fish sauce may not be your first choice due to its funky smell and flavor. However, as a healthier alternative to salt, it also serves the same function of creating a more palatable balance in a dish. Just like salt, albeit with lower sodium content, it can keep the sugar from overwhelming the natural flavors of the other ingredients in a pastry. There's also the power of its umami flavor to add richness and complexity that keeps one wanting to savor the food more. 

Combine fish sauce with caramel for a glaze that's reminiscent of salted caramel, except with the additional, intriguing touch of brininess. Use it to enhance the cocoa flavor of your chocolate chip cookies. For something with zing, mix fish sauce with lime or calamansi juice and sugar for a sweet, tangy, and savory syrup that can brighten the flavor of buttery shortbread cookies. Don't worry about the condiment's distinct aroma overwhelming the pastry since the citrus juice will mellow it down. 

Umami notes enhance the flavor of baked goods

Even though we expect pastries to be generally sweet, without anything else to offset the sugar, a dish remains one note, leading to our quick satiation. Aside from providing a savory depth to your favorite cookie, umami also has the power to activate the taste buds and make them more receptive to different tastes. Add a splash of fish sauce and you'll find yourself enjoying the nuances in the pastry's overall flavor.

Boost the nuttiness and light sweetness of peanut butter cookies by adding brittle made with caramelized fish sauce. Place small pieces of it in your peanut butter cookie dough and enjoy a nutty, savory, caramelly treat that also comes with a satisfying crunch. For more scrumptious ginger cookies, combine the salty umami of fish sauce and honey's sugary floral notes into a syrup that would bring out ginger's citrus-like sweetness and slightly peppery bite. 

Once you've experienced the delicious difference fish sauce brings to pastries, explore other umami ingredients. Push through the pungent scent of the Filipino condiment bagoong or fermented shrimp paste and cook a small amount of it with caramel to pack your cookies with a deeper, richer flavor. Caramelize Korea's gochujang or fermented red chili paste, too, for a tastier snickerdoodle. Miso paste, specifically the lighter, sweeter, and nuttier white miso, is another increasingly popular choice. Aside from making your baked goodies taste extra delicious, its moisture content can also make them softer and chewier.