Once I saw that Emily had made the cold vietnamese noodle and veggie salad 'bun' on her blog I couldn't get Vietnamese food out of my head. Growing up in Western Mass I was not immediately exposed to many exotic cuisines, but when I lived in Worcester I found myself living in Main South where there is a bustling Vietnamese population.
You see, the major ingredient in nuoc cham is fish sauce. Anyone who has ever had fish sauce knows what an absolutely offensive smell it carries. I will be the first to admit how gross it smells. But the taste? sublime. It really heightens the whole dish and makes it sing....mixed with the sugar, chilis and lime juice it hits every note on the palate, and brings all the pieces of the dish into perfect harmony.
Rafe's first mistake was smelling the fish sauce. It's so damn pungent its tough to get it out of your nose. Suffice to say he wasn't a fan, but does enjoy steak and veggies, so he was happy to dress his next helping in lime juice and soy. So all wasn't lost. And I got to take the leftovers for lunch the next day.
I call that a win-win.