State Bird Garum

Stuart Brioza

State Bird Provisions, San Francisco

Nicole Krasinski

State Bird Provisions, San Francisco

JJ Goode

"State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook"

“When you think of fish sauce, you typically think of Southeast Asia, not ancient Rome. But more than two millennia ago, Romans fermented fish to produce a powerful condiment called garum. What we make is garum in name only. Instead of fermenting fish ourselves, we buy crates of Red Boat Fish Sauce. I fell in love with the product after visiting Cuong Pham’s operation in southern Vietnam, where wild anchovies caught off Phu Quoc island are salted almost right out of the water and then left to ferment in mango wood barrels for nearly a year. Supposedly his product is pretty close to the original garum. Cooks in ancient Rome added vinegars and herbs to make all sorts of condiments that built on the sauce’s salty, umami-filled flavor. That’s what we do for ours, steeping Asian aromatics and spices into the elixir, so it tastes even more complex.” —Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski with JJ Goode in their 2018 Beard Award–nominated State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook.


  • 4 cups fish sauce (preferably Red Boat brand) 
  • 1 cup lime juice 
  • 1 lemongrass stalk 
  • One 3-inch knob ginger, peeled and cut into a few pieces 
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled 
  • 6 whole cloves 
  • 3 dried Indian or Indonesian long peppers 
  • One 3-inch piece Ceylon cinnamon stick 
  • 1 whole nutmeg


Combine the fish sauce and lime juice in a blender. 

Cut off and discard the bottom 1 inch and top 5 inches from the lemongrass, remove the outer layer, and cut the lemongrass into about-2-inch pieces. 

One by one, coarsely crush the lemongrass, ginger, and garlic in a mortar and transfer to the blender. Focusing on one spice at a time, coarsely crack the cloves, long peppers, and cinnamon stick in the mortar and transfer to the blender. Wrap the nutmeg in a kitchen towel, whack it with a heavy pan to crack into several pieces, and then add them to the blender. Pulse the mixture to break up the solids a bit more, 15 to 30 seconds. 

Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 1 month (the longer the better). Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. 

Transfer the finished sauce to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 months. 


Reprinted with permission from State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook by Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski with JJ Goode, copyright © 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


5 cups