Thanks to the abundant gifts from nature, Vietnam has a plentiful source from the sea, this is where our love of fish sauce began. Fish sauce in Vietnam is strongly rich in flavor and used commonly. It becomes one of the most important parts in Vietnamese delicacies.
How fish sauce in Vietnam is made
The fish sauce is made from layering salt and fish on top of each other inside large wooden vats. The anchovies will then ferment for the next 12-15 months. When you take a glance in a fish sauce factory, the giant wooden vats may make you think you have arrived for a wine tasting.
According to the local fishermen, not all kinds of fish are used as fish sauce but special anchovy fish sauce such as “Com Do”, “Com Than”. Especially “Soc Tieu” Anchovies could make the particular fish sauce Phu Quoc flavor.
When observing, you should try a few drops, an absolute surprise of flavor fills your mouth with a pure, pungent, strong, rich and sweet unforgettable taste that has become a famous Vietnamese condiment.
The price of a bottle of fish sauce from 40,000- 10,000 VND depend on its protein level. ( 30-35, 40 or 45 )
Do you know other uses of fish sauce ? Old fishermen once drank a cup to keep body warm when venturing out to sea or divers drank it before plunging into deep and cold waters.
Top 5 famous fish sauce branches in Vietnam
Phu Quoc fish sauce
Phu Quoc fish sauce is famous for high protein. Also the sweet, fragrant rice fish specialties only cooked in Phu Quoc. The island has a long tradition in making fish sauce. All the anchovies used to make the sauce are caught off of the local shores. The wooden vats that ferment the sauce are all made from local hardwood. We like to think that Fish Sauce was invented right here in Vietnam, but it’s also popular in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.
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Cat Hai fish sauce
Ca Na fish sauce
- Anchovy is a traditional fish sauce source of the local
- The salt is considered as the best salt in Southeast Asia with the ratio of sodium chloride (pure salt) up to 95%, extremely convenient for processing fish sauce.
- Ca Na has a number of sunny days and high temperatures so it is good for the absorption and keeping heat to create delicious fish sauce.
Standard fish sauce has a deep caramel color, very light, very fragrant, and in addition to salty taste, sweet taste also fat. Vietnamese dinner is more unique when accompanied with Cana fish sauce.
Phan Thiet fish sauce
There is a wonderful thing that reminds us about Phan Thiet: fish sauce. Nowadays, from a traditional industry of locals, Phan Thiet fish sauce has contributed an important part in creating a brand name for this beautiful and animated city.
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Lien Thanh fish sauce
Phan Thiet — Lien Thanh, made by a private company in Phan Thiet town, has been recognized as the country’s oldest fish sauce brand by the Viet Nam Guinness Records.
Now one of the few surviving heritage buildings in District 4, the ornate colonial edifice at 243 Bến Vân Đồn was constructed in 1922 as the second Saigon office of the famous Phan Thiết-based fish sauce manufacturer, Société de Lien-Thanh (Liên Thành Thương Quán or Công ty Liên Thành).
Tips to choose
This is your essential vocabulary list in order of most important to least when you choose fish sauce a souvenir:
- nước mắm (nuh-k mah-m): fish sauce.
- cá cơm: anchovy.
- muối: salt.
- nước: water or liquid. Some brands have added water to dilute the fish sauce, usually the weaker ones, or lower quality ones.
- thành phần: ingredients. If you can find ‘ca com’ and ‘muoi’ in succession you do not need to remember this.
- nguyên liệu: raw materials.
- nhĩ: first press. Most bottles of fish sauce I saw did not have this word, but if they do, they could be lying but it’s not a bad indicator either.
- đường: sugar. Some inferior fish sauces, or Thai styles of fish sauce, use sugar in their product.
- phụ gia: additives. An example of what you should not be seeing on the label.
- chất điều vị: flavour enhancers. The meaning of this phrase is pretty easy to guess when it’s followed by a bunch of E numbers.
Basically, the fewer ingredients on the label, the better.
It will look like any of the following: –°N, –N, –°, –do dam, –dam,
These are all ways of indicating grams of nitrogen per liter of fish sauce — so the higher the number, in general, the higher the protein level in your sauce, and the stronger-tasting and more complex your fish sauce.
- Lower numbered fish sauces — around 20N-25N — are usually diluted with water and other additives.
- 30N-35N are good for everyday cooking.
- 40N and above is where you start getting into smack-your-tongue-with-a-fish territory.
- The highest available is around 50-60N.
The lowest quality fish sauces were packaged in plastic bottles and much cheaper than their glass bottle counterparts. Fish sauces with higher N-numbers were more expensive, sometimes significantly so, than those with lower numbers.
Bring fish sauce on airplane
Fish sauce is a kind of liquid which has strongly smelling, so it is not allowed in almost airlines. However, Vietjet Air allowed you to bring from 3-4 liters of fish sauce in your check-in baggage.
Do not miss your chance to try the best Vietnamese traditional fish sauce when you do. It always presents in every single dish and has become our cultural identity. Please share the thoughts of your taste and visit us to plan your Vietnam trips at Vinaday Go Reise