Quite a few readers have written me regarding Thai-style fruit dips saying how they wish there wasn’t any dried fish or fish sauce involved. Actually, the way the comments were worded is a little more interesting, a weird cross between disbelief and curiosity with a tiny, tiny tinge of disgust. I don’t blame them; I know how that feels. When I was invited to my first American thanksgiving dinner, I swallowed hard — and not in a good way — when I saw roasted turkey with gravy sitting between a pile of candied yams with broiled marshmallow topping and a quivering blob of fruit jelly called, “cranberry sauce.” I, of course, grew more accustomed to that combination and even came to like it. But, admittedly, the first encounter was pretty rough.
Our view regarding what should and shouldn’t be is all conditioned by culture. Tart green mangoes and a sticky dip containing fish sauce, palm sugar, and dried shrimp together are to most Thai people what apple pie and vanilla ice cream are to most Americans. In other words, fish and fruits work for us.
But if you don’t like it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Besides, there are other Thai-style fruit dips that don’t have fish products in them. Please allow me to introduce to you the most common three that go very well with tart fruits. Continue Reading →