Fish Sauce Guides

Fish sauce is an amber-coloured liquid extracted from the fermentation of fish with sea salt.  It   is used as a condiment and cooking  in Cambodian, Philippine, Thai, Laotian and Vietnamese cuisines.

In Vietnam, fish sauce is called “Nuoc Mam,” and it is used to make Nuoc Cham dipping sauce for Banh Xeo, Nem Nuong, Banh Khot, Com Tam Bi Suon  Cha. Fish sauce is also used to cook Bun Bo Hue, Pho, Canh Chua, Ca Kho To (fish stew)


Raw fish sauce has very strong pungent flavor.  However, when we cook fish sauce the right way, it would enhance the food flavor. This guides are for beginners in Vietnamese food.

  1. Buy fish sauce that’s not too fishy to make salad dressing and dipping sauce, like Viet Huong’s Three Crab. The fake 3-crab fish sauce is very fishy.
  2. Cheap fish sauce like squid brand should not use too much, because it’s fishy and salty. For any recipe, use 1/2 of required amount of fish sauce.
  3. Fish sauce goes well with seafood dishes.
  4. Use fish sauce to marinate meat or seafood in BBQ recipes.
  5. When eat raw fish sauce, mix it  with lime, sugar, garlic, red pepper  to suppress the fishy smell.
  6. Learn how to make Nuoc Cham dipping sauce.
  7. For stewed, braised, stir fried dishes,  cook fish sauce  at least 5 minutes before serving it
  8. Cook fish sauce with spices: onion, garlic, black pepper, red pepper,  ginger, lemongrass, curry.
  9. For stewing, BBQ recipes, it is best to combine both soy-sauce and fish sauce to your taste.

Things you should know

  1. Fish sauce made from fish, so it’s very fishy. Do not smell it, if you never try it before.
  2. Do not cook fish sauce in apartment without good ventilation.   If you cannot open the windows,  the fish smell sticks into your clothes.
  3. Most Vietnamese and South East Asia people love  fish sauce, and use it too much in the recipes.
  4. Choices of fish sauce brands depend on personal taste.

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