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Fish sauce is a "condiment made from fermented fish and salt. It is used as a staple ingredient in various cuisines in "Southeast and "East Asia, particularly "Burmese, "Cambodian, "Filipino, "Thai, "Lao and "Vietnamese cuisines. Historically, it was also used in Ancient Greek and in Roman cuisine (known as "garum).

Fish sauce is added to dishes during the cooking process as well as being used as a base in dipping sauces. Fish sauce and its derivatives impart an "umami flavor to food due to its "glutamate content.[1]



Fish sauces may be prepared from different species of fish and shellfish, and from using the whole fish, or by using just fish "blood or "viscera. Most fish sauces contain only fish and "salt, but some add a variety of "herbs and "spices.

Fish sauce that has been only briefly fermented has a pronounced fishy taste. Extended fermentation reduces this and gives the product a "nuttier, richer and more savory flavor.["according to whom?] An anonymous article, "Neuc-num", in "Diderot and "d'Alembert's 18th-century "Encyclopédie, states: "It is said that Europeans become accustomed enough to this type of sauce".[2]

A southeastern Chinese fish sauce, called kôechiap in "Hokkien Chinese, might be the precursor of "ketchup.[3] Sauces made from fermented fish parts with other ingredients, such as meat and soya bean added to it, have been recorded in China 2300 years ago.[4]

Regional variations[edit]

Southeast Asia[edit]

Southeast Asian fish sauce is often made from "anchovies, salt, and water, and is intensely flavoured. Anchovies and salt are arranged in wooden barrels to ferment and are slowly pressed, yielding the salty, fishy liquid. The salt extracts the liquid via "osmosis.

Southeast Asians generally use fish sauce as a cooking sauce. However, there is a sweet and sour version of this sauce which is used more commonly as a dipping sauce (see "nước chấm).


The "Indonesian semi-solid "fish paste terasi, the "Cambodian "prahok and the "Malay fermented "krill brick "belacan or "budu from liquid anchovies are other popular variations of fish sauces.


The similar "Philippine version common to "Indochina is called patis. Patis, a by-product of "bagoong, is nearly always cooked prior to consumption, even when used as an accent to "salads or other raw dishes. Patis is also used as an ingredient in cooked dishes, including a rice porridge called "arroz caldo, and as a condiment for fried fish. Patis is also used in place of table salt in meals to enhance the flavor of the food, where it can either be dashed from a dispensing bottle onto the food, or poured into a saucer and mixed with "calamansi and used as a dipping sauce.


Similar condiments from "Thailand and "Burma are called nam pla (น้ำปลา) and ngan bya yay (ငံပြာရည်), respectively. In "Lao/"Isan, it is called nam pa, but a chunkier, more aromatic version known as "padaek is also used. Similar to padaek is "pla ra used in "Thai cuisine. In "Cambodia, fish sauce is known as teuk trei (ទឹកត្រី), of which there are a variety of sauces using fish sauce as a base.

In "Thai cuisine, fish sauce is used both in cooking and also served at the table for use as a condiment, for instance in noodle soups. In addition, nearly every Thai meal is served with phrik nam pla as a condiment: a mixture of fish sauce, lime juice, and chopped "bird's eye chilies. "Sliced garlic is often added to this sauce.


The variety from "Vietnam is called nước mắm.[5] Two areas in Vietnam are most famous for producing fish sauce: "Phú Quốc and "Phan Thiết. Popular brands in the US include Mega Chef, Red Boat, 3 Crabs, Golden Boy, and Hòn Phan Thiết.[6]

Vietnamese fish sauces are made with only two ingredients: anchovies and salt. They do not have any additives like sugar, hydrolyzed protein, or preservatives.[7] Vietnamese prefer sauces without a strong smell, and transparent with a deep golden amber color. “First press” fish sauce, meaning the sauce is bottled from the first time the fermenting barrels are drained, also indicates quality. Lastly, when measuring the "nitrogen level of fish sauces (N), most fish sauce on the market falls within the mid 20N range. Anything over 30N is considered high-grade, and 40N is optimal.[8]

"Nước chấm is a Vietnamese prepared fish sauce that is savory, lightly sweet and salty tasting, and can be sour and spicy if "lime and "chili peppers are added. The main components are fish sauce, water, and sugar. In Vietnam, there is a popular food item called mắm, which is made the same way as fish sauce, except that both the fish and the liquid extract, not just the liquid, are kept. Mắm is also fermented for a shorter period than fish sauce. Mắm is either eaten as is (uncooked), or cooked in soups or stir-fries.

East Asia[edit]


In Japan, fish sauce variations are used as a seasoning of local specialties. Ishiru in the "Noto Peninsula is made from "sardine and "squid. Shottsuru of "Akita Prefecture is mainly made from "sailfin sandfish. Ikanago shoyu of "Kagawa Prefecture is made from "sand lance. They are often reserved for the preparation of "nabemono.


In Korea, fish sauce is called eojang ("Korean: 어장). Across the "Korean Peninsula, aekjeot ("Korean: 액젓, literally "liquid "jeotgal"), a type of eojang usually made of fermented myeolchi ("anchovy) or kkanari ("sand lance), is used as a crucial ingredient in many types of "kimchi, both for taste and fermentation.[9][10]

On "Jeju island, eoganjang ("Korean: 어간장), made of fermented godori (young "chub mackerel), or jeongaengi ("horse mackerel), is used as a "soy sauce substitute.


Fish sauces were widely used in ancient western cuisine. The earliest known reports of fish sauce are from ancient Greece[11] between 4-3rd century BC. It was made with a lower salt content than modern fish sauces.[12]

A salty fermented fish sauce was ubiquitous in Classical Roman cooking. In "Latin it is known as "garum or liquamen. This garum also existed in many varieties such as oenogarum (mixed with wine), oxygarum (mixed with vinegar) and meligarum (mixed with "honey). Garum was one of the trade specialties in "Hispania Baetica. It was made of a variety of fish including tuna, mackerel, moray eel, and anchovies.[13]["page needed] Garum was frequently maligned as smelling bad or rotten, being called, for example, "evil-smelling fish sauce"[14] and is said to be similar to modern "Colatura di Alici, a fish sauce used in "Neapolitan cuisine.["who?]

In "English garum was formerly translated as fishpickle. The original "Worcestershire sauce is a related product because it is fermented and contains anchovies.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 February 2009. Retrieved 6 September 2009. 
  2. ^ Diderot, Denis. "Fish Sauce". The Encyclopedia of Diderot and d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  3. ^ Lakshmi Gandhi (2013-12-03). "Ketchup: The All-American Condiment That Comes From Asia : Code Switch". NPR. Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  4. ^ "Ketchup: A Saucy History - Hungry History". 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  5. ^ Robuchon, Joël (2009). "Larousse Gastronomique (Updated ed.). London: Hamlyn. p. 714. "ISBN "9780600620426. 
  6. ^ Kyle Hildebrant (2014-02-17). "Fish Sauce Taste Test, 13 Brands Compared — Our Daily Brine". Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  7. ^ Stanton, J. (2012-05-02). "What Are "Hydrolyzed Soy Protein" And "Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein," And Why Are They In Everything?". Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  8. ^ "Everything you want to know about Phu Quoc Fish Sauce". Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  9. ^ The Confidentials (2016-11-01). "REVIEW | Seoul Kimchi, Upper Brook Street | Confidentials Manchester". Manchester: Manchester Confidential. Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  10. ^ "Thousands prepare kimchi feast for Seoul's poor". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 8 November 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  11. ^ Farnworth, Edward R. (2003). Handbook of Fermented Functional Foods. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press. p. 22. "ISBN "0849313724. 
  12. ^ Grainger, Sally. "Fish Sauce: An Ancient Condiment". Good Food SAT OCT 1, 2011. National Public Radio. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  13. ^ Wilkinson, Paul (2003). "Introduction". Pompeii: The Last Day. London: BBC. "ISBN "9780563487708. 
  14. ^ Curtis, Robert I. (1 January 1983). "In Defense of Garum". The Classical Journal. 78 (3): 232–240. Retrieved 4 April 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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