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The spirit of a country’s food: Vietnamese fish sauce

Fish sauce – nước mắm, or in a real sense ‘salted fish water’ – is a Vietnamese culinary symbol, a basic public fixing up there with olive oil or soy sauce.

However, most would agree that the creation cycle isn’t the most fragrant, because of the impactful funk exuding from anchovies maturing in immense wooden tanks for a year.

Be that as it may, it doesn’t stop huge number of guests a year going to the fish sauce maker Phung Held tight Phú Quốc island, a 45-minute flight southwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

They have been doing business starting around 1950 and are glad for their standing as one of the main makers on an island which numerous Vietnamese feel is liable for the best fish sauce in the country.

On the hunt for umami

Top assistant chef Hoa Vu and food and drink official Quyen work at the JW Marriott Phú Quốc Emerald Straight, a close by five-star beach front retreat.

The retreat and its principal eatery Tempus Fugit were planned by observed American designer Bill Bensley.

The broad collection of delightfully executed Vietnamese dishes they serve, for example, fish and pomelo salad or lobster with wok-seared greens, is to a great extent supported by the special flavor profile and conspicuous umami – – the “fifth taste,” or interesting exquisiteness – – as presented by Phú Quốc fish sauce.

Be that as it may, you don’t have to look far for a sample of Vietnamese fish sauce. It’s present in pho, spring rolls, com hat, banh xeo, com thit nuong and many other omnipresent dishes.

How the magic happens

The vital fixings in fish sauce are cá cơm (dark anchovies) and more modest white anchovies. Together, they contain around 95% of the fish utilized. Bigger fish tight as can be and herring make up the rest.

Customarily, fish would be trapped in the Andaman Ocean around Phú Quốc, however today they will more often than not come from Though Cho Island, around 70 miles away. They are just gotten among April and September, relating comprehensively with stormy season.

Phung Hung have their own fishing boats, which permits them to manage the entire presentation process. At the point when the fish are gotten, they are quickly depleted while still on the boat, then salted and put away, implying that the aging system has previously started, utilizing the freshest conceivable catch.

They utilize salt that comes from the southern beach front region of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and add it in a proportion of one section to four sections fish.

While the fishing boats land, Phung Hung representatives gather the 200 kilogram (440 pound) compartments of fish and combine them as one in their own barrels.


Fish sauce barrels used to be hand-made from wood of boi loi, a tree from Phú Quốc Public Park, yet it is presently jeopardized to the point that wood must be imported from Cambodia. Some have compared the significance of the wood to wine maturing in oak barrels, granting its own remarkable flavor profiles.

The robust barrels are produced using 54 braces of wood, bound together by hand with a rattan twine. It requires two men three weeks to make one.

When the barrel is filled, laborers climb up the outside, wear white gumboots and begin compacting and squeezing it somewhere around stepping on the blend.

From that point, consistently for an entire year, the fluid that leaks from the fish is depleted and afterward returned into the tank – – in any case, fundamentally, there’s no blending or blending required, as occurs in fish sauce creation in different regions of Vietnam.

Laborers screen the items, tasting the sauce to choose when a clump is prepared.

A piece of the mysterious in the sauce is Phú Quốc’s extraordinary mix of ecological variables, including the right stickiness and intensity that gradually allows the combination to decrease down, to leave somewhere in the range of three and 4,000 liters of fish sauce per barrel.

The last stage comes when they send an example of the sauce to the lab to get a grade of the force, estimated in levels of nitrogen, a side-effect of the maturation cycle. Without the right level, it can’t be confirmed on the container’s mark.

The mildest rendition begins from 35° N, while the most serious are around 45° N.

Phú Quốc fish sauces – – there are in excess of 70 unique makers on the island – – will generally have higher levels of nitrogen content, bringing about perplexing and different flavor profiles.

The first press

On the off chance that you’re after the most valued and costly fish sauce, it is drawn straightforwardly from the primary press of a solitary tank, undiluted and unmixed.

Search for the words “nước mắm nhi” on the name. That implies it has come from the barrel’s most memorable extraction of fluid. Some refer to it as “extra-virgin fish sauce.”

Spanish gourmet expert Bruno Anon drives the culinary program at Official Retreat Phú Quốc and is something of a fish sauce fan.

“Fish sauce is the public soul, the public embodiment of the Vietnamese public, which separates the country’s cooking from the remainder of the world,” says Anon. “In each Vietnamese dinner, a little bowl invests wholeheartedly of spot, a sauce that integrates everything on the table.”

He makes sense of that here are different layers for the taste.

“It would be excessively easy to say that fish sauce tastes off-putting, or even pungent. Quality mixes have a briny, adjusted taste that you might test directly from the jug. Your psyche could go to the flavor of new fish, or to sitting around the ocean.

“Fish sauce here and there has a hint of pleasantness, a mineral flavor, or a note of caramel.”

To be sure, acclaimed top notch cafés like Toyo in Manila – – Filipinos love fish sauce, privately called patis – – and Anan in Ho Chi Minh City use fish sauce to splendid impact in sweet dishes. Added to chocolate and frozen yogurt individually, they cause for an absolutely scrumptious salted-caramel to feel.

Back in 2016 in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, Anthony Bourdain took then-US President Obama for a modest bowl of bun cha, rice vermicelli with barbecued pork. The key flavor profile was, as Bourdain made sense of it, “nước mắm – – the omnipresent Vietnamese matured fish sauce.”

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