Fish Sauce


Fish sauce What gives a Thai restaurant its distinctive odor when you walk up to the front door?

A staple of Southeast Asian cuisine, fish sauce isn’t just found in Southeast Asian cuisine; it’s also utilized in many others. It’s one of our favorite ingredients to use in the kitchen!

In this article, we’ll go over what it is, how to use it, what to buy, and how to keep it.


Anchovies or krill are salted and fermented to make the fish sauce (yú lù, 鱼露).

Seafood loses moisture as a result of the salt’s action. The saline, fishy liquid that we know as fish sauce is extracted from the combination by pressing it. When appropriately fermented, it can last for months or years!

What You Need to Know to Make the Most of It

It’s easy to be intimidated by fish sauce when you first open the bottle and smell its pungent aroma. The fragrance, on the other hand, should not deter you. It doesn’t smell awful since it hasn’t gone rotten. Yummy, it’s fermented fish!

A savory umami flavor and a hint of seafood flavor can be added to meals by using it like anchovies in Mediterranean cuisine. Your Eggplant with Garlic Sauce or Thai Basil Beef will be elevated to a new level with just a dash of this ingredient.

Use a light hand because it is really salty. It can be used in place of salt by some chefs. A Vietnamese home cook once told us that fish sauce is the best way to salt pho broth, and no salt is necessary.

We sometimes put a little in our fried rice, and it really enhances the flavor! Besides dipping sauces and dressings such as Vietnamese nuoc cham, which is eaten with spring rolls/summer rolls and noodle salads, fish sauce is also a prominent element in many Asian cuisines.

Purchasing and Keeping

Basically, any high-end brand will do. Depending on how long they’ve been fermented for and how pure they are, the price and quality might vary widely (i.e., fish sauces with less added sugar and fewer additives).

An excellent resource for finding the best-tasting brand in your local Asian market or online is this article that compares 13 well-known brands in depth.

We’ve heard that Red Boat is the best brand to buy, but we’ve found that it can be tough to locate. For now, Red Boat Fish Sauce may be purchased at Thrive Market, an online market that specializes in organic and specialty products at reasonable prices.

A fermented ingredient, fish sauce does not need to be refrigerated. In a dry, cool location like the pantry, such as the fridge. It has a one-year shelf life. Refrigeration is an option if you plan to keep it for longer than a year.

Replacements for Fish Sauce

In most Asian markets and certain supermarkets, fish sauce is readily available. A little soy sauce and finely minced anchovies can be substituted if you can’t locate it.

Lactose intolerant or allergic to seafood? Use mushroom-flavored soy sauce to get your salt and umami fix. There will be less flavor, but it will do for now!

Alternatively, vegan fish sauce prepared from kelp could be used in place of the fish sauce.

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