Cuisine, Culture

The traditional making of Vietnamese fish sauce


Basically, fish sauce is something you get to taste at almost every single Vietnamese meal in the country when traveling in Vietnam. Apart from the significant smell and taste of fish sauce releases, this “Nectar of God” has a long-founded origin, story, and a painstaking progress. The information below discloses everything you need to know before visiting a Vietnam traditional village making the fish sauce in your Vietnam tour for the family.


Fish sauce – Nectar of God

What is the fish sauce?

Fish sauce is a type of flavoring made out of fish overlapped with layers of salt and all out for a long fermentation which lasts from several weeks up to ages. Apart from Vietnam, fish sauce is known to be a distinctive condiment that can be spotted out in Southern China provinces and other Southeast Asia countries. Other than being a dipping sauce itself, fish sauce is widely used as a must-have component in the gastronomy of various cooking and has long been existing as the soul of Vietnamese gastronomy. In order to create a social-accepted fish sauce, the making requires a diligent, detailed and accurate progress.


Soul of Vietnamese cuisine

The making of Vietnamese fish sauce

“Nước Mắm” is how the Vietnamese refer to their daily “holy water” which combines two basic ingredients: anchovies and salt. Other than those, there are no other additives preferred such as sugar, hydrolyzed protein, or preservatives during the process. What is considered to be a good-quality Nước Mắm is a sauce that goes without a super strong smell yet obtaining a shining golden amber-like color.


Inside a factory

In order to produce a delicious type of fish sauce, obviously, the stage of selecting the right ingredient is the most essential segment. Freshly-caught anchovies are such type of fish that are capable of giving out the finest aromatic drops of sauce, which are fused with a proper percentage of nitrogen level and a short period of decomposition. Newly-caught anchovies after harvested are carefully selected, thoroughly rinsed and mixed with salt following an unchanged ratio of 3:1, which means 3 tons of anchovies would be fermented with a ton of sea salt. This is the best ideal of mixing ratio inferred by generations of Vietnamese for ages. If you are in a Vietnam family package to one of the fish sauce factories, you would be definitely embracing a good chance to have a deep insight.

The-top-of-fish-sauce-jars-helloVietnamThe top of fish sauce jars


Freshly-caught anchovies

Layers of anchovies and salt are later on placed overlapping one another in a bog wooden jar and tightly packed with strong big ropes made of cane The fish are supposed to be brewed from 12 to 15 months depending on specific production requirements. Each of these jars is numbered supporting the purpose of management. After a good amount of time, the newly-created sauce is contracted. One of the last stages is to have a check-up on its nitrogen level. Lastly, when measuring the nitrogen level of fish sauces (marked by letter N), most fish sauce that is broadly displayed in the market falls in the range of the mid 20N. Other types of sauce recorded to get over the limit of 30N is regarded as high-grade products whilst those reaching 40N is known to be optimal.


A modern factory

According to some producers, a two-year duration is the minimum amount of time needed to provide an acceptable product. In the middle of the progress when the jars are all open to the Sun, there must be a manager watching over the area. Ultimately, bottling is the final progress before Nước Mắm is delivered to the public. “First press” fish sauce, or “Nước Mắm cốt”, is the very first drops of sauce bottled from the first fermenting. These are then used for reproduction and hence reach a very high cost.


Fish sauce drop

Fish sauce kingdoms in Vietnam

The two regions in Vietnam that are most famed for fish sauce production include Phú Quốc, a far-away group of islands in Southern Vietnam, deep into Thailand Bay, and Phan Thiết, a popular South Central coastal city. These cities are known to be welcomed in the US market under some famous brands of Mega Chef, Red Boat, 3 Crabs, Golden Boy or Hòn Phan Thiết. If you are looking for any Vietnam tour packages from the US, do not forget to visit a fish sauce factory in one of those cities for an actual observation of what you are consuming on the daily basis.


Phú Quốc fish sauce

Quickly join in a Vietnam tour for the family to this S-shaped country and get to have a real taste of Vietnamese fish sauce by yourself.

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