VIETNAMESE FISH SAUCE
“Nuoc mam” or Vietnamese fish sauce is one kind of condiment or food which is high in nutritional value. It is indispensable to Vietnamese daily meal and cuisine. There is always a bottle of fish sauce in spice cabinet in the kitchen of each Vietnamese family.
You may not realize it but when you are on holiday in Vietnam, many of the meals that you eat will contain fish sauce as an essential part of their preparation. Not surprisingly, the sauce is made from fish and after the fermentation process, the sauce is added to many dishes, including curries.
How to make it
It dates back to ancient times and has been an excellent source of protein to the local population, and of course visitors to Vietnam. Centuries ago, fishing boats did not venture far out to sea and mostly caught fairly small inshore fish.
Here is the procedure
- Small fish layered one on top of another in small barrels that are then filled with salt would produce a tasty sauce.
- Once the barrels are filled the fish is pressed to produce the salty liquid. No one know who realizes that, but it made an enormous contribution to cuisine in this part of the world.
- The sauce is made during a distinct fishing season annually.
- It takes about three months before the liquid begins to come out of a hole in the barrel. Then, that liquid is poured back into the barrel and the process continues for a further three months.
How to Use
The sauce is clear with a distinct fishy smell disappears once it is added to other ingredients and dish has been cooked; some would say good because it is not a smell that everyone likes. What it does is add richness and flavour to cooking. Arguably the purest fish sauce is that made of anchovies.
You can find fish sauce in any seafood dish that served when you travel in Vietnam, whichever part of the country you are in.
It is an excellent addition to a chicken stock and if you are making a salad dressing with onion or tomato, add a little. There is no limit to its use; roast cauliflower with cheese, braised meat and it is a great addition to a ‘’Bloody Mary.’’
Some traditional foods using fish
For anyone who is still in doubt, let’s try these local dishes that fish sauce works its magic best with.
Banh Xeo Fried spring rolls
Bun Cha Steamed rice rolls
In fact, fish sauce with a great condiment can now be bought throughout the world though many who use it do not know its origins. Fish is regularly salted to add to its life for human consumption. Somewhere along the way, that process has produced a sauce and for that they have the thanks of chefs everywhere.