When having most Vietnamese meals and cooking, “nuoc mam” or Fish Sauce is considered as an indispensable spice of much deliciousness.
Whoever coming to Vietnam and most Southeast Asian countries (such as Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) is much fond of a special condiment – Fish sauce (or nuoc mam in Vietnamese). It is a staple ingredient of numerous food like curry and sauces and is derived from fish that is allowed to ferment.
About the history, Vietnam has a coastline which stretches over 1900 miles. Therefore, Vietnamese fish sauce with the specific and well-known saltiness and smell is popular and irreplaceable. Also, thanks to the preferential treatment from nature, Vietnam has plentiful sources from the sea so the local residents can process sauce from shrimp, sauce from squid, sauce from freshwater crab, and even sauce from fat-full crabs. Whatever it is made from, the most common taste of Vietnamese people is its unique saltiness, so Vietnamese fish sauce is always strongly delicious.
The unique characteristic of fish sauce is salty flavor and fishy smell. One interesting characteristic of Vietnamese fish sauce is that it loses its fishy odor once it is mixed in with other ingredients. It is commonly used as seasoning for cooking and dipping seafood and other Vietnamese foods.
Raw material of making fish sauce is fresh fish. Only the fresh anchovy fish makes the good quality fish sauce that is clear in color and good smell. For the pure fish sauce, fresh anchovy fish sauce is selected and mixed with salt by using Vietnamese own traditional process. Fermentation is started once a year, during the fishing season. After about 3 months in the barrel, liquid drips from an open spigot, to be poured back into the top of the barrel. After about 6 months the fish sauce is produced.
In most daily meals, we can add many other ingredients to the fish sauce such as chili, pepper, garlic, sugar, etc, to create a specific taste for each dish. It is not an exaggeration that Vietnamese are masters at making and using their dipping sauces.
Ingredients and production process: Only the fresh small fish makes good quality fish sauce, which is found in clear color and good smell. In Vietnam, fish sauce is very popular and can be any of various mixtures based on the liquid of salted, fermented fish. First, small fish and salt are put in wooden boxes to ferment. Then, it is slowly pressed so as to yield the salty, fishy liquid.
This extremely pungent, strong-flavored and salty liquid can range in color. For the pure fish sauce, fresh anchovy fish sauce is selected and mixed with salt by applying the unique Vietnamese traditional process. Fermentation is started once a year, during the fishing season. After about 3 months in the barrel, the liquid drips from an open spigot, to be poured back into the top of the barrel. Six months under the sunlight will make the fish sauce of much better smell.
The unique characteristic of fish sauce is salty flavor and fishy smell. An interesting characteristic of fish sauce is that it loses its fishy odor once mixed with other ingredients. It is commonly used for cooking and dipping seafood and many other Vietnamese foods as well. In Vietnam, it is generally called nước mắm (well known by these brand names: nước mắm Phu Quoc or Phu Quoc fish sauce, and nước mắm Phan Thiet or Phan Thiet fish sauce).
The taste of fish sauce is salty but flavorful, and very sophisticated, ceremonious, popular, but greatly delicate. How’s that for a description. Though the drop of fish sauce is tiny, its great flavor is really a part of the spirit of the country, of the people. It itself is the flavor of the home country in fadeless memory of every Vietnamese person far away….