The Ultimate Guide to Fish Sauce

Exists anything that’s more of an umami bomb than fish sauce? A couple of drops of this magic things into a meal can take it from from fantastic to magnificent. It’s an incredible secret component to have in your toolbox.

However it can likewise be strange. If you have actually ever been puzzled about fish sauce, this is for you. In this post, I’ll cover what it is, what brand names to purchase, how to utilize it, and most significantly, how to make ready fish sauce for dipping or dressing at the table.

My household’s fish sauce roots run deep. We’re from a countryside town by the ocean. Numerous times a year, boats would pertain to the docks with the different in-season seafood for the villagers to make fish sauce with. Every family would have their own barrels of fish sauce. The abundant household in the town made their cash offering commercial amounts of the things, made in big outdoors concrete swimming pools. My mother was popular in the town for her ready fish sauce which she offered with bowls of noodles and fresh grilled cobs of corn.

What is fish sauce

Fish sauce, in some cases described as nước mắm, is a sauce made from fermenting seafood in salt that’s connected with Southeast Asia, specifically Vietnam and Thailand. Usually it’s made from anchovies, however it’s likewise made from small shrimp, tuna stubborn belly, and more. You can make fish sauce from any seafood. You can even make fish sauce in the house by loading 3 parts fresh anchovies to 1 part salt in a big container and leaving it for a year approximately.

megachef fish sauce |

What brand name of fish sauce to purchase

Obviously, nobody is going to make their own in the house. There are a great deal of brand names of fish sauce out there, and more all the time, so it can get complicated regarding which one to select.

The very best method to select is the very same as olive oil. There’s something comparable to very first press for fish sauce that has a remarkable taste over the less expensive things. To discover it, search for the words mắm nhĩ on the label. This consists of the popular and popular Red Boat brand name, however it likewise consists of some other fantastic options such as Viet Huong, Phu Quoc, and my present bottle of the minute, Megachef.

What is mam nhi

This is a small food geeking area you can avoid.

A lot of Vietnamese individuals understand that mam nhi is to fish sauce what additional virgin is to olive oil however not everybody understands why. The etymology of the expression was a tough one for me to locate. There’s not even contract on the appropriate spelling. Esoterically, it’s either mắm nhĩ or mắm nhỉ. These are quite little distinctions, even in Vietnamese, however it’s still not concurred upon.

On Vietnamese wikipedia it simply states that mam nhi indicates “correct sauce” however the description is labored and not likely. My theory, which visits method of my daddy, is that nhĩ is traditional slang for drip or drop. Method back in the day, prior to mass production, every household would have wood barrels like a white wine barrel with a spout in which they made the sauce. When they required some, they would open the spout and let some sauce drip out, which’s what was called mam nhi.

Per my daddy’s theory, if they were intending on offering it, they would put a few of those very first drippings back into the barrel and later press it to extend the yield, which formed the inferior “common” fish sauce. Mam nhi was the excellent things, conserved for the household to have.

Fish sauces to prevent

For many years I have actually found out that lots of people do not understand what brand names and designs to prevent. The sort of fish sauce we utilize in many cooking is clear. Prevent any that are nontransparent unless you understand what you are entering into, consisting of and specifically any that state mắm nêm or mắm ruốc on the label. These will be more pungent than the clear things. Utilized properly, as in our BBH, they’re scrumptious, however too hazardous for the inexperienced.

hue shrimp paste |

You must likewise prevent any grocery store brand names, such as Thai Cooking Area, Asian Household, Dynasty, and so on since they’re extremely pungent, over salted, and doing not have in taste. When in doubt or in a food desert, purchase Red Boat. It’s the best, most commonly offered alternative, and it’s what we purchase when we’re far from Asian grocery stores.

Nuoc mam vs nuoc cham

Often on dining establishment menus you’ll see a referral to nước chấm. Nuoc cham in Vietnamese simply indicates dipping sauce, however what it actually indicates is ready-to-eat/table/prepared, aka fish sauce made into an all set to consume sauce (ie, for dipping) with garlic, lime, and chilies. Really couple of individuals would utilize the raw untainted sauce out of the bottle for anything besides cooking.

In my household and in our part of Vietnam, we do not state nuoc cham. We simply state nuoc mam and you’re anticipated to understand which kind is implied based upon context. At finest, it would be called nước mắm chấm, which indicates dipping fish sauce. If you are cooking, you utilize it best out of the bottle, however at the table, it’s constantly prepared.

Prepared fish sauce is the things of dreams, and often a jealously protected household trick. Every Vietnamese household declares their dish is the very best, or that their household makes it the very best. Vietnamese kids who have actually matured in America and can’t prepare in addition to their mamas joke about constantly having 2 containers in their refrigerator. When one goes empty, it’s time to call mother up for another container.

The very best ready fish sauce dish

When Vietnamese individuals state their mother’s fish sauce is the very best, they imply the ready things. Heck, when Vietnamese individuals state they imagine fish sauce, they likewise imply the ready things. Few Vietnamese individuals would share this dish (or could, considering that many do not determine or compose dishes).

Due to the fact that I do not get to see my moms and dads as typically as I ‘d like, I found out how to make it long back from my mother. I have actually composed it down and improved it through the years. The dish I’m showing you today is my own secret dish, established from my mother’s variation, tuned for mine and Steph’s choices.

How to make ready fish sauce

  1. Crush sugar, garlic, and Thai chilies in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Transfer to a container, then include lime, fish sauce, and water.
  3. Let mellow in the refrigerator for a minimum of thirty minutes prior to delighting in.

Can you make this without a mortar and pestle?

When my mother requires to make adequate for big celebrations (we’re talking gallons) she would utilize a food mill or mixer. She considered it substandard however nobody appeared to grumble. I have actually made it both methods, there’s a really clear however not insane big distinction. We’re talking food processor/chopping as a 7/10 and the mortar and pestle as an 11/10.

Bún Bò Xã Ớt - Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Recipe |

Can you utilize lemons?

You can utilize any acid you desire, even vinegar, however limes are best. Whatever else does not taste rather best to me.


Although this dish professes to be the very best ready fish sauce you have actually ever made, it’s not the only video game in the area. We customize it to match the meal. You can include ginger for duck or chicken. You can make a more thinned down one to taste vermicelli bun bowls. My mother even makes a variation with what’s basically gravy that Steph loves for dipping spring rolls, like a peanut totally free peanut sauce.

Essentially, do not hesitate to experiment with it to get it right for both your taste and your meal.

Make better than take out chicken and shrimp peanut free pad Thai right at home. Sweet, salty, savory – pad Thai is universally loved and for good reason. Forget delivery and customize your Pad Thai just the way you like it – this one had no peanuts because around here we do the #peanutfree life. Instead, there are buttery roasted cashews for that nutty crunch. #padthai #recipes #dinner #noodles #padthairecipe #thairecipes

Vietnamese vs Thai fish sauce

In my household, there’s no genuine distinction in between the Vietnamese and Thai variations, they are interchangeable to us and we utilize whatever we have on hand.

Fish sauce alternatives

It might be appealing to replace if you encounter a dish that needs fish sauce, however you should not. In the very same method you most likely would not replace mustard in a dish, unless you’re vegan, you most likely do not require to replace. It’s low-cost and there’s great deals of dishes you can utilize it with, in addition to simply utilizing it to improve the umami profile of actually anything from steak to ragu bolognese.

Dishes that utilize fish sauce

If you wind up with a great deal of fish sauce and you do not understand what to do with it, here are a few of my preferred dishes that utilize it:

  • Crockpot Beef Stew
  • Immediate Pot Bo Kho Dish
  • Spicy Noodles: Vietnamese Garlic Lemongrass Edition
  • The Very Best Pho Dish
  • Coconut Chicken Curry
  • Khao Soi: 15 Minutes Thai Coconut Curry Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Bun Bo Color: The Noodle Soup You Never Ever Understood You Enjoyed
  • The Mushroom-iest Green Bean Casserole
  • Much Better than Get Peanut Free Pad Thai Dish
  • Bonus Easy Pok Pok Design Fish Sauce Chicken Wings

Bún Bò Xã Ớt - Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Recipe |

Dishes that utilize ready fish sauce

  • Vietnamese Spring Roll Dish
  • An Extremely Genuine Countryside Bún Bò Xả Ớt Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Dish
  • Lemongrass Beef Salad Rolls
  • Vietnamese Steak Summer Season Rolls Celebration!
  • Chashu Summer Season Rolls Dish
  • Smoked Salmon and Avocado Summer Season Rolls
  • Avocado Chicken Broccoli Rabe Summer Season Rolls
  • Hainanese Chicken Summer Season Roll Dish

fish sauce |

Fish Sauce Dish

A secret household dish
Serves 4
. wprm-recipe-rating. wprm-rating-star. wprm-rating-star-full svg * {fill: #f 5a623;} 4.72 from 7 votes.

Preparation Time 5 minutes Mellowing time 25 minutes Overall Time 30 minutes

Active Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2-4 Thai bird’s eye chili sliced, basically depending upon your spice tolerance
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce mam nhi chosen, such as red boat
  • 1.5-2 tablespoon lime juice depending upon taste
  • 2/3 cup water see notes

Unique Devices

  • mortar and pestle


  • In a mortar in pestle, crush sugar, garlic, and half the Thai chilies.Bún Bò Xã Ớt - Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Recipe |
  • Transfer to a container, then include fish sauce. Include 1/2 lime and water. Taste and include lime as required. Complete with staying Thai sauce |
  • Let mellow in the refrigerator for about thirty minutes prior to delighting in. Keeps in the refrigerator for as much as a sauce |


The quantity of water depends upon your meant usage. For dipping salad rolls, choose 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup water. For vermicelli bowls, choose 2-3 cup to 1 cup water.

Approximated Nutrition

Nutrition Information.
Fish Sauce Dish.

Quantity Per Serving.

Calories 33

% Daily Worth *

Fat 0.01 g 0% Hydrogenated fat 0.01 g 0% Cholesterol 0.01 mg 0% Salt 696mg 30% Potassium 57mg 2% Carbs 8.7 g 3% Fiber 0.1 g 0% Sugar 6.7 g 7% Protein 0.7 g 1% * Percent Daily Worths are based upon a 2000 calorie diet plan.

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