Fish sauce

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Fish sauce

Fish sauce ( Thai : Nam Pla - น้ำปลา , viet . : nước mắm, yúlù , chin . : 魚露  /  鱼露 , Jyutping jyu 4 lou 6 ) is a seasoning sauce based on fermented fish or fish extracts . The term describes a range of sauces that have been used in different varieties by different cultures throughout history. It is particularly widespread in East and Southeast Asia , but only occasionally as a regional specialty in Europe , but also with a centuries-old tradition. Above all, the Italian Colatura di Alici from Campania and the Amalfi Coast should be mentioned. Other comparable seasonings from Europe differ mainly in the lack of fermentation, they are freshly prepared ( pissalat ) or preserved in another way (anchovy essence).

Roman fish sauce

Roman Garum factory in Baelo Claudia , in what is now Spain

In ancient Greece and in the Roman Empire a similar sauce called was Garos (Greek.), Garum (lat.) Or later Liquamen known. The famous Roman fish sauce had its roots in the Greek Garos sauce, which probably originally came from the Black Sea region. In ancient times it was an "expensive and popular commodity" and was made from fish offal, especially those from mackerel , salt and spices in a fermentation process lasting several months. The production of garum was banned in the city because of the penetrating smell it produced. Sealed in small amphorae, garum was used throughout the empire, often replacing salt inland.


Fish sauce is one of the oldest seasoning sauces. It is widely used, especially in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand and Vietnam . Even in countries where soy sauce is mainly used for seasoning today, mostly only fish sauce was used in the past. The main producer is Thailand, where it is called “Nam Pla” ( thai : น้ำปลา ), in Vietnam it is called “ nước mắm ” and in the Philippines “Patis”, while the Cambodian variant is called Toek Trei ( ទឹកត្រី - tɨk trəy ).

In China , fish sauce is common in the coastal regions of Fujian and Guangdong provinces , particularly in the Chaozhou region. From Suzhou comes a related condiments, the shrimp - soy sauce ( 蝦子醬油  /  虾子酱油 , Xia zǐ Jiangyou ): soy sauce is cooked with shrimp and sugar, Báijiǔ (a Chinese liquor ) and spices flavored. These sauces should not be confused with Hong Kong's famous XO sauce , which is a paste made from coarsely chopped dried seafood such as scallops , dried fish, and prawns that is cooked along with chilli peppers, onions, and garlic.

The Japanese fish sauce ( 魚 醤 ) is called Shottsuru ( 塩 魚 汁 ) from “Hatahata” Arctoscopus japonicus or Isil ( い し る ) from squids and Yoshiri ( よ し り ) from sardines .

In Korea there is the fish sauce Eo-ganjang ( 어간장 ), mainly from Jeju-do , it is made from Jeotgal . Another sauce is Myeolchi-Aekjeot ( 멸치 액젓 ) mainly made from anchovies .

Worcestershire sauce is known in England .


Thai fish sauces in the supermarket

The brownish-clear, very intensely smelling sauce consists mainly of anchovies ( anchovies ) and similar small fish, salt , sugar and water , sometimes also of oysters and shrimp . There are different strengths that use different amounts of fish per liter of finished sauce and are dosed differently accordingly. Often it is mixed with lemon juice , vinegar , chilli , sugar and / or garlic for seasoning . Fish sauce enhances the taste of a dish.


Fish sauce factory in Phu Quốc , Vietnam

The traditional production method is based on fermentation of the salted fish material for several months by enzymes and microorganisms that lead to hydrolysis of the fish protein.


In Thailand, the largest fish sauce producer in the world, various fresh, small fish are used for production. The most commonly used variety are anchovies ( ปลา กะตัก - Pla Ka-Tak , Stolephorus indicus ). These are put in layers together with sea salt in a ratio of 1: 1 to 5: 1 in a very large clay barrel. The clay barrel is placed directly in the sun. Two to three times a week you open the barrel and let the sun shine in to support the fermentation process. Depending on the desired quality, you either get the so-called “Grade 1” fish sauce after 6 to 12 months, a brownish, very aromatic liquid that is filtered to remove all solid components; then it is pasteurized and filled into glass or plastic bottles. The “Grade 2” fish sauce is obtained after the clay barrel has been refilled with salt water after the first fish sauce has been taken out and the fish is allowed to ferment again for up to four months.

See also

Web links

Commons : Fish Sauce  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: fish sauce  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gunther Hirschfelder : European food culture. Campus, Frankfurt am Main, 2005 study edition, ISBN 3-593-37937-6 , pp. 69 f., 83.
  2. "Ancient Cemetery": Dozens of shipwrecks discovered in the Aegean, Epochs, accessed on October 25, 2018
  3. Keith H. Steinkraus, PJ Alan Reilly: Fish Fermentation Technology. United Nations University Press, 1993, ISBN 978-89-7053-003-1 , pp. 36 f.
  4. Ji Young Jung et al. a .: Effects of Temperature on Bacterial Communities and Metabolites during Fermentation of Myeolchi-Aekjeot, a Traditional Korean Fermented Anchovy Sauce. In: PLOS ONE . 11 (3): e0151351, doi : 10.1371 / journal.pone.0151351 .
  5. Ute Ostermeyer, Carsten Meyer and Reinhard Schubring: Production and composition of Asian fish sauces. Production and composition of Asian fish sauces. In: Inf. Fishery Research. 56, 2009, 1-18.
  6. ^ Charles W. Bamforth, Robert E. Ward: The Oxford Handbook of Food Fermentations. Oxford University Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0-19-974270-7 , pp. 537-550.
  7. ^ Joe Cummings: World Food: Thailand . Lonely Planet Publications, Hawthorn 2000, ISBN 1-86450-026-3