8 important notes when using fish sauce


Fish sauce is a staple seasoning in Vietnamese meals. However, not all the housewives know how to use it smartly for a good health.

Fish sauce is not for marinating meat

This is the most important tip that you should remember for a proper cooking with fish sauce.  Though the sauce works especially well in marinades, you should not use it to marinate meat for stir-fries, slow-cooked or stews. Your meat will hardened because of the sauce. Instead, use seasoing soup, salt and sugar in marinade. For stir-fries and slow-cooked meals, add fish sauce during your cook, not in preparation. In addition, fish sauce should be toss it into the food about 1 minute before you turn off the heat for a delicious, tasty dishes but retains nutrition of fish sauce and natural sweetness of the foods.

Different fish sauces for distintive dishes

Use pure, undiluted fish sauce for boiled meats or steamed fish. Simply add chilli, pepper, lemon or canberry for better taste. Fish sauce should be added in the soup right before turn off the heat. You should not boil fish sauce for a long time as its taste changes, affecting the flavor of your foods.

For a dish of slow-cooked meat and fish, simply marinate raw meat/fish with sugar, pepper and salt, then put on the fire. Give time to soften meat/ fish then add fish sauce and turn off the heat. This way creates special flavor, and prevents nutrient loss of fish sauce.

Keep fish sauce in the heat for long time

As mentioned above, you should avoid to keep fish sauce in the heat for long time, It is not only alter the sauce taste but also cause nutrient loss. This is applied for soup as well as fried and slow-cooked meals. Turn off the heat when you find the special fragrance of fish sauce in your cook.

Use fish sauce as a dipping sauce

A mixed fish sauce is recommened for fried and boiled foods. Fish sauce is stired with finely chopped ginger, chilli, garlic, pepper and lemon that bring best flavor for your dish.

You can put some salt in the pan to fry the fish or to boil the vegetables or meats, but not fish sauce. Keep fish sauce in the heat for long time will cause nutrient and appetite loss.

Do not use fish sauce for kids under 1

Nutrition experts warn that it is unhealthy to put fish sauce in meals of your under 1 year old kids. The salty taste in fish sauce is danger for kids’ kidney. Other flavor enhancer products such as glutamate, seasoning is not good for children’s health.

Who should not use fish sauce?

Those with kidney disease, osteoarthritis, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease should not eat fish sauce. The sauce contains very high level of salt, thus it can be a dangerous seasoning for some groups. It is not good for cardiovascular patients, or those with high blood pressure, kidney failure..., worsening their health condition. The high level of salt also causes some serious disease such as kidney stones and kidney steatosis. These people have to strictly control the amount of salt consumed daily. They need following doctor’s instruction to change their eating habits.

Tips to choose good fish sauce

According to Vietnam standards for fish sauce, the higher protein level the more nutritious and longer used fish sauce.

Thus, fish sauce is categorised in 4 groups based on its protein level. The rate of protein in the special sauce is 48, while those rate in the premium, type 1 and type 2 are 40, 24 and 16, respectively. Any sauce with protein level under 10 is unqualified and unstandardised. The sauce with protein level from 25 is enable to bring tasty and attractive appetite for your meals. Thus, the most important tips is checking the label in the sauce package for information, then pick the right sauce.

Another tips to select delicous, qualified sauce is to observe its color. A good sauce have amber color or dark brown coler like cockroach wings, clear and without cloudiness. As you try fish sauce, a good one is those give you salty taste at first in your tonge, then turns sweet as it reach your throat. The sauce has a characteristic aroma. Those have a taste of saltiness from start to finish or changed colors are not good sauces. The sauce with the color of gold, straw, or amber is assured to use. If the sauce has dark blue or dark gray color, leave it out.

In order to check the right color of fish sauce bottle, put it opposite to light source. Shake the bottle hardly, then put upside down, facing the light source. If there are any neutrally buoyant things found, it means the sign of precipitation. It may derived from fish bones or errors in processing. If there is no strange smell, use thick cloth to re-filter the sauce for use. However, there is a chance that producers has put addictives in procecssing the sauce.

By Van Trang