This Umami-Packed Chocolate Sorbet Uses One Secret Ingredient You Would Have Never Thought Of

published Aug 22, 2022
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a chocolate ice cream tasting party
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Micah Morton
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Chocolate is a versatile ingredient that pairs well with so many flavors: orange, salt, spicy chilies, and … fish sauce? Andrea Nguyen, James Beard Award-winning author and chef, recently shared a recipe for Umami Salted Dark Chocolate Sorbet, which uses fish sauce to add a salty, savory umami flavor.

According to the chef, she was first introduced to this flavor pairing at a Culinary Institute of America Worlds of Flavor conference, where she tasted a chocolate truffle seasoned with fish sauce. “I expected to taste a lot of fish sauce but the Filipino chef who made the truffle explained that he used fish sauce to create umami,” Nguyen wrote in the recipe post. “It was a good chocolate truffle, and the fish sauce gave it just a little bit more depth.”

“This may sound radical but nuoc mam (fish sauce) is my stealth umami addition to @bybrianlevy’s stunningly tasty Salted Dark Chocolate Sorbet,” Nguyen wrote in an Instagram caption for a post highlighting the recipe.

In her recipe, which is adapted from Brian Levy’s cookbook, Good & Sweet, she substitutes fine sea salt with fish sauce and assures readers that you won’t actually taste it in the resulting sorbet. If you’re following her recipe and don’t have fish sauce on hand, you can try using soy sauce or miso instead. 

Nguyen recommends serving this sorbet with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, chile oil, or chile crisp and if you’re worried about the texture of the sorbet, don’t be. It’s dense, chewy, and has an ice cream-like texture — which is an impressive feat considering it’s dairy-free and contains no refined sugar. In fact, all of the recipes in Good & Sweet are only sweetened by fruit and other naturally sweet ingredients.

The nice thing about Nguyen’s spin on the recipe is that you can make the sorbet even if you don’t have an ice cream maker. Simply pour the chilled sorbet mixture into an ice cube tray, freeze it, then throw the cubes into a food processor and run until you achieve a smooth texture.