Welcome friends — both old and new!
Did you watch my video at the top? Including something fun like that is one of the reasons why I’m launching Pass the Fish Sauce! For the past few months, I’ve been simmering about how to better engage with folks around things that matter to me — Asian food, culture, and cooking.
My website, Viet World Kitchen, has been around for 20 years, which practically puts me in the dinosaur era in terms of the internet. I built the site as a hub for Asian foodways and we had a ball sharing recipes, cooking tips, and stories. Over time, as social media ratcheted things up, that sense of community got diluted. I’ve been trying to figure out how to refresh and regain the loose, organic, human aspects of my work.
A few weeks ago, a few of you dropped me some directional crumbs. After I wrote a note about freezing green onions as an inflation hedge, Sheila emailed tips and a photo for propagating “forever” green onions and rau ram (Vietnamese coriander, one of my favorite herbs). Stick them in a slim jar of water, she wrote.
In response to the green tomato pie recipe, Sara emailed about subbing green tomato for bell pepper in a kung pao cauliflower recipe. Mark wrote that he gleaned his garden before a cold snap and used some of his green tomatoes for my green tomato and lemongrass pickles, adding mint. He also put the raw green tomatoes atop pizza.
I’m thrilled whenever people add knowledge, and let me know that they find my work useful. I never know who reads my words or cooks my recipes! But to be honest, I was running out of steam because most of the current technology for creating content is driven by trends and algorithms. I can only spend so much of my energy bowing down to codes and a faceless machine. At the end of the day, I’m here to research, write, and publish for inquisitive cooks. I also like to have fun and hear from you.
That’s where Substack comes in. The technology makes it easy to write, create, receive, and participate.
If you previously subscribed to Viet World Kitchen, you’ll now receive Pass the Fish Sauce in your inbox. If you can’t find the newsletter, check your spam folder. And please mark this address as ‘not spam’ to ensure that you receive things from me. If the newsletter isn’t in your spam folder, look in the Promotions tab.
I used to have weekly, monthly and other dedicated mailing lists — which drove me a bit batty because there was a lot of overlap. Given that and the fact that there are thousands of folks involved, I combined the lists. Moving forward, you will get the PTFS newsletter in your inbox but you may also check my Substack website as well as the app.
Viet World Kitchen will still exist and I’ll continue pointing to it, as needed. However, you now have a home base for my newsletter dispatches.
Why Community Matters: 2014 Missing Person Update
Something happened earlier this week to further underscore the power of building community on the internet. Within 24 hours, I received emails from three generations of the Carman family. They wrote to me regarding a 2014 missing person post about Thu Thi Vo. I met her brother, Minh Hung Vo (pictured below), on Phu Quoc island and he asked me for help to find his sister. After I wrote about his missing person project, Viet World Kitchen community members leapt in to find his sister. We did not get far. But time aided us and eight years later, the Carmans found the posts and me.
Through a friend in Vietnam, I verified Minh’s mailing address and forward it to his Stateside relatives. Hopefully, they will connect and find some peace.
That is the positive power of the internet. I’ve always aimed to bridge cultural and culinary divides and never know where it may lead. We’re strangers who gather over food but over time, we become friendlier over shared experiences that inform the human experience.
Those of you who were with me in 2014 didn’t hold back to pitch in and help Minh. I thank you for your generosity and look forward to having that kindness carry over into Pass the Fish Sauce.
Before signing off — just a heads up about scrumptious Black Sphinx dates. Nicknamed the “Cadillac of dates”, they are thin-skin, soft and practically pregnant with candy-like sweetness. They are also rare, a specialty of farms in the Phoenix region. They’re a part of Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste!
I purchase the dates from Rejean Durette of Fresh AZ Dates and and keep my stash in the freezer, thawing one package at a time to eat. Rejean emailed last night with a date deal — order 4 pounds and get 5 pounds ($60 delivered via priority mail to most locations). Her price is very fair for remarkable fruit. I receive no economic benefit from pointing you to Rejean. I’d like her business to continue flourishing and for you to get your paws on something unique.
Black Sphinx dates make terrific gifts (my husband, mom and sister all swoon over them). Keep the dates frozen or refrigerated. Don’t bake with them. Just eat them or pair with cheese, nuts, etc. Savor their specialness.
Once again, welcome. I’ve already got a running list of ideas for future dispatches so stay tuned!
Thanks for reading Pass the Fish Sauce! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Introducing Pass the Fish Sauce