For An Umami-Packed Chicken Noodle Soup, Add Fish Sauce

Comfort in a bowl, chicken noodle soup is the quintessential remedy for all those sick days and cold nights. A steaming hot pot of vegetables, noodles, and chicken simmering in a heart-warming broth, what could be better for soothing both the soul and the belly? Well, perhaps one thing; an umami version that is just as flavorful as it is comforting. You don't have to change much of the recipe for it either as all it takes is a few spoonfuls of fish sauce.

Umami, also known as the "fifth taste" in the line-up of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter, is often described as a pleasant mix of savory and meaty. You can find it in various types of food such as cured meat, mushrooms, seaweeds, aged cheese, certain fish, and more. Asian condiments, in particular, are a marvelous source for a pronounced impact. Just a small amount of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, mirin, miso, dashi, or fish sauce is enough to infuse that delicious and distinctive umami goodness into almost any dish.

Made by fermenting anchovies in salt, fish sauce is deeply umami and briny. This condiment is perfect for enhancing flavors instantaneously. Fish sauce lends an intensity that elevates the chicken noodle soup taste, creating a mosaic of savory, hearty, umami flavors that exude a wholesome sense of comfort. This makes the good old chicken noodle soup surprisingly complex and intriguing and adds an effortlessly delightful twist that makes it all the more enjoyable.

You can add more than just fish sauce

When choosing fish sauce, Bon App├ętit recommends going for bottles with only two or three ingredients, mostly fish and salt. This ensures that the sauce isn't loaded with preservatives, MSG, or other harmful additives. Moreover, according to Hot Thai Kitchen, it may be beneficial to opt for the more expensive variety since the price is often an indicator of good quality fish sauce.

A little goes a long way with fish sauce, so it's important to find the right balance when adding it to your chicken noodle soup. Start with a small amount and carefully taste as you gradually add more. If you accidentally get too heavy-handed, pour in some more water or broth to dilute the intensity. Note that this will also lead to adjustments of other ingredients, such as spices, herbs, and cornstarch.

Since you already have the fish sauce, you could also reach out for other Asian condiments. Staples such as soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha, oyster sauce, etc. are all marvelous companies. Those who like a bit of heat and fragrance will surely appreciate allspice, five spice, star anise, turmeric, and Sichuan pepper. As for aromatics, lemongrass, lime, ginger roots, coriander, Thai basil, and many more are all perfect for infusing a lingering scent, making the dish all the more appealing. A harmonious mix of these ingredients will result in a multi-layered soup with beautifully intricate flavor notes that captivate both your sense of taste and smell.