In the making of fish sauce, first, tubs of fish, like anchovies, are marinated in salt and kept to ferment for a year or longer. Later, the fish releases its potent, glutamate-rich juices, and that liquid is what we know as fish sauce. In Vietnam, it's known as nuoc mam, while in Thailand, as nam pla, and in the Philippines, it is called patis.
What else does it contain besides anchovies and salt?
That depends on the brand you are buying. Some add sugar or a sweetener, a hydrolyzed wheat protein, and a flavor enhancer. Although they are not harmful, as they are all FDA certified. Instead, they serve a particular purpose. The sugar and wheat extract round up the fish sauce's jaggedness and give it that full flavor. Without that, it can be a bit too edgy on your tastebuds. Although, try to stray away from too many preservatives such as sodium benzoate, which dampen the aftertaste. To sum it up, read the ingredients carefully.
Varieties to consider while buying
Although they come in different varieties, in this case, price is tied to quality. Those on the lower end are usually mixed with water and unhealthy additives, making it taste different from the premium stuff. A few more things to consider are - choose a glass bottle over plastic for the sake of quality and freshness, check for the color and pick those with a reddish shade, consider extra virgin, or first draw for that different strong flavor.
Do the tastes differ according to the provenance?
The primary difference in sauces of different regions is their taste. Vietnamese varieties tend to be lighter and sweeter, while Thai is on the saltier side, and Filipino fish sauces have the most decadent texture. Each one reflects and complements its cuisine and ideally should be used for dishes pertinent to that cuisine, none being any superior.
So, if you are a fan of Thai food, pick that. While if you are looking for a universal taste, you cannot go wrong with a Vietnamese one. It is all up to your liking.
Categories Simillar to Fish Sauces includes Coconut Sauce, Curry Sauce and Plum Sauce