Fish sauce is a staple seasoning in East Asia and Southeast Asian countries. It is a liquid condiment usually made from krill or fish coated and fermented in salt for around two long years.
Let us get to know the different types of fish sauce that can give any dish or recipes a better taste.
ALL ABOUT FISH SAUCES
Fish sauces contain glutamate, an agent that adds a savory umami flavor to dishes. They can be used as seasoning either during (as marinade) or after cooking. These sauces are popularly produced everywhere in Southeast Asia today.
This condiment can be a dipping sauce, dressing to vegetables, and flavor enhancer for soups and stews.
The fish sauce is made from fish (anchovies or other fish), and is usually manufactured through a fermentation process. The process starts by combining fish and salt in a ratio of 1:3. In about 4-6 months, fish extract is secured in fermentation containers or tanks. This liquid is called fish sauce.
Anchovies are the most commonly used fish in making fish sauce added or mixed with salt that draws out the moisture from the fish to ferment in a long period of time without being spoiled.
There are a lot of popular brands of fish sauce available in the Asian market which are separated into different grades. These fish sauces can be labeled as lower grades or high grades. Depending on its grade, they can be used to create marinades, cooked into a meat or vegetable, or used as condiments.
This condiment is not only known in Southeast Asia, but also in other parts of the world.
In the Philippines, fish sauce is known as patis. It is also called aekjeot in Korea, yeesu in China, ngapi in Myanmar, garos in Greece, garum in ancient Rome, and nam pla in Thailand.
So here are the different types of fish sauces used as marinades, dipping sauces, and flavor enhancers for various dishes.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF FISH SAUCES
Below is the list of fish sauces useful not only in Asian cuisine, but also in non-Asian cooking. Here they are:
1. MAHYAWA SAUCE
Mahyawa is a fish sauce made from salted anchovies or sardine fish. This fish sauce is briny, spicy, and is dark in color.
The main ingredients used in making Mahyawa sauce are water, salt, and small fish.
It originated in the southern coastal regions of Iran. Mahyawa is usually served with bread or other foods.
This tasty and appetizing fish sauce is often sold in clear bottles by street vendors in the southern parts of Iran.
2. PHU QUOC SAUCE
Phu quoc is a fish sauce produced in Vietnam, particularly in Phu Quoc island. This Vietnamese fish sauce is exclusively made from fermented anchovies, water, and salt, and are usually processed in wooden barrels.
Phu quoc fish sauce, which is named after the place where it is manufactured, is known as one of the best Vietnamese fish sauces used in Vietnamese cooking. It can be used as a dipping sauce, a sprinkling sauce, or as a cooking ingredient.
The fermenting process for this Vietnamese fish sauce usually ranges from 9 to 15 months. The finished product is somewhat fishy, briny, and savory liquid.
Just like other Vietnamese sauces, this high-protein and high grade fish sauce is not concentrated. The sauce gives a very sugary, salty, and unique fatty flavor to any Vietnamese cuisine.
3. WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE
Worcestershire sauce, also known as Worcester sauce, is a liquid condiment made from fermented fish, manufactured in Worcester City, Worcestershire, England.
The unique flavor of this fish sauce comes from a mixture of anchovies, garlic, tamarind extract, sugar, salt, vinegar, salt water and other ingredients.
Worcestershire fish sauce can be used when stir-frying vegetables, grilling, or steaming. It is also a perfect spice for shellfish and sandwiches, or salad, soups and stews seasoning.
The process of making this fish sauce takes a few months (around 18 months).
4. NAM PLA (THAI FISH SAUCE)
One of the most widely used and available types of fish sauce in the US is Nam Pla, a Thai fish sauce. The term Nam Pla literally means “fish water” in Thai.
Nam Pla has a balanced flavor which is a bit salty, sour, spicy and sweet. This Thai fish sauce flavor is slightly unique from other sauces.
This staple sauce is also widely used in Thai cuisine. This Thai fish sauce imparts an excellent kick to Thai’s cultural dishes. Nam Pla enhances the current taste of any dish like Yakisoba and ramen noodles.
Other Thai fish sauce brands you may also try are MegaChef, Squid, and Golden Boy.
5. NUOC MAM FISH SAUCE
Nuoc mam is a Vietnamese version of nam pla fish sauce. It is commonly used as a dipping sauce, and has a sweet, salty, sour, savory, and spicy flavor.
Making fish sauce is made using big clay jars to contain the Nuoc mam sauce ingredients.
The term nuoc mam means fish sauce in Vietnam. The fermented salty fish sauce that usually comes straight from the bottle. Among the famous fish sauce brands in Vietnam are Squid Brand, Three Crabs, and Phu Quoc.
This sweet-salty-sour Nuoc mam fish sauce is traditionally used as a dipping sauce and salad dressing, but can also be used to enhance the flavor of most Asian dishes. It is considered as the best fish sauce and the most commonly used dipping sauce in Vietnam aside from Nuoc cham and other fish sauces.
You can serve this sauce along with spring rolls, cold rice noodles, or banh xeo.
6. PATIS (FILIPINO FISH SAUCE)
Patis is a famous fish sauce in the Philippines. It is commonly used as a spice or a cooking ingredient. Patis is a staple seasoning in the Filipino cuisine, and is among the in-demand Philippine sauces used in cooking meat, vegetables, and other food.
This fish sauce is a well-aged, fermented fish or shrimp product with sea salt. This amber colored liquid sauce has a unique and strong smell of fish. Patis is a common Southeast Asian cuisine and a by-product from the fermentation process known as bagoong. Bagoong is a paste condiment made of fermented fish (bonnet mouth fish or any kind of fish), krill, or shrimp.
Patis is usually sold in a bottle or plastic gallon in different grocery stores and supermarkets in the Philippines. A lot of Filipino recipes call for patis along with soy sauce and vinegar, that is why the product is pretty much marketable in the Philippines, and also in other Southeast Asian countries.
Garum is a fermented sauce staple in the cuisines of ancient Greece, Rome, Phoenicia, Carthage, and Byzantium.
It is made from fresh fish intestines placed in tanks or basins, layered with salt and some herbs, and extracted by pressing with a stone. Garum with amber color was considered the most expensive type of Garum.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The most common ingredient used in manufacturing fish sauce is fish, followed by sea salt or water salt, and some herbs.
Fish sauce was first produced by the ancient Greeks along the shoreline of the Black Sea, between 4th-3rd century BC. The first produced fish sauce was made with a lower salt content.
There are hundreds of fish sauces available in the market today, but the sauces that stand out include Red Boat fish sauce, Golden Boy Brand, Blis Barrel Aged Fish sauce, flying lion fish sauce, and Chung-jung-one premium anchovy fish sauce gold.