Popular throughout Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand and Vietnam, fish sauce is a pungent, salty liquid used as a condiment and a flavouring. The liquid is clear, amber to dark brown in colour, and is used like soy sauce. In Vietnam, fish sauce is served with most meals as a dipping sauce, where it may be flavoured with chillies, peanuts or sugar. Fish sauce is made from salted and fermented dried fish or shrimp, which are layered into large wooden barrels and allowed to ferment. After about 3 months or so, the liquid is drained off to produce a sauce of high quality, normally reserved for table use. Subsequent drainings yield a fish sauce of lower quality, generally used for cooking. Some bottles of fish sauce, especially those from China and Hong Kong, may be labelled as ‘fish gravy’.
Also known as — nam pla, nuoc mam, nuoc nam, patis