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Fish Sauce – South East Asias smelly seasoning

Some call it a smelly liquid made of fermented fish but for others it it is part of the national culture. Even the ancient Romans used it for seasoning their dishes and called it Garum. What soy sauce is for the Fischsoße -Fish sauce. Asia's smelly seasoningChinese, fish sauce is it for the people in South East Asia. Especially in Vietnam fish sauce (Nuoc Mam) is very popular – cook and poets refer to it as eatable perfume. There are even poems and songs about it. In Thailand fish sauce is known as Naam pla, on te Philippines they call it Patis and Koreans speak of Jeotgal. But all have the strong, fishy smell in common, which needs to getting used to for foreigners. The production ist quite simple: Fresh anchovies are mixed 2,5:1 with salt. During the next months the salt abstracts water from the fishes, which drains through a small tap in the fish sauce barrel and pour back into the barrel. Like olive oil Nuo Mam has different levels of quality. Fishsauce increases the taste of most dishes without adding a fishy taste. With fish sauce, chillies, garlic and lime juice you can fix yourself easily a asian seasoning sauce on your own. Just chop some Thai chillies and garlic, pour some lime juice and fish sauce on it an leave in the fridge for some days.
But, as I said, it takes some time to get used to the aroma. I remember the small village Mui Ne at the coast of Vietnam which is famous for its fish sauce production. At 40 degree Celsius the stench was unbearable.


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