Umi Nom’s Incredible Hot Sauce


Umi Nom, the new Filipino-Southeast Asian restaurant on the Clinton Hill-Bed-Stuy border, serves a very comforting version of pancit canton. The noodle dish, which is Filipino of Chinese origin, involves round egg noodles stir-fried with sweet Chinese pork sausage, chicken, scallion and dashes of fish sauce and soy. It’s delicious, but maybe you want a little kick to liven it up? Ask, and you’ll get a small dish of roughly mashed green chiles in a bit of viscous, garlicky-sweet-tangy liquid. It’s so tasty, you might use the whole dish, and then ask for another.

A chat with chef King Phojanakong, also of the LES’s Kuma Inn, revealed the origins of the sauce, and how to make it.

“It’s something my father used to make,” says Phojanakong, explaining that his mother is Filipino and his father is Thai. “It’s very commonly served with street food in Thailand.” Basically, Phojanakong takes green Thai chiles and mashes them in a mortar and pestle with palm sugar, garlic, fish sauce, and lime juice, tasting as he goes along until the sweet-sour-spicy balance is exactly right.

“It really depends on the ingredients you’re working with,” he says. “A month ago, the chiles were coming in extremely hot. Now they’re milder, and we put in a little bit more of those. you really have to taste as you go. I like it a little bit sweet and sour, and I like the heat to come in but not to overpower the other flavors.”

Phojanakong recommends Golden Boy fish sauce, a Thai brand. Others can be too salty. But he also notes that vegetarians can leave out the fish sauce altogether and use a bit of salt instead. And if Thai palm sugar is hard to find, a good substitution is piloncillo, the brown cones of Mexican unrefined sugar that you can find in almost any bodega.

Umi Nom
433 DeKalb Avenue, Brooklyn