What is fish sauce? – Panlasang Pinoy

Fish sauce is a complex flavor common to most Southeast Asian cuisines. Here in the Philippines, fish sauce –– or Patis, as we call it – most commonly used to enhance the flavor of soups and broths. Not only does it make a good marinade, but it also makes a dipping sauce that is used for meat and seafood. Its taste is part sweet, part salty, part umamiand everything delicious.

Depending on which country you are from, fish sauce has many different names.

  • In the Philippines we know fish sauce as Patis.
  • But people in Thailand or Laos know it that way name pla.
  • Cambodians call this sauce teuk tri,
  • and Vietnamese call it nuoc mam.
  • In Indonesia it is ketjap ikan
  • and if you are in Burma look for something called ngan bya yay.

But whatever you call it, the product you get is the same – a delicious, hearty sauce for a variety of dishes.

Where does it come from?

Yes, fish sauce can be common in Asian dishes. But did you know that it has its origins in ancient Greece? Early records from the 4th to 3rd centuries BC Greeks saw fermenting a fish called garos.

Later the Romans made a similar sauce called garum, made from the entrails of fish that they normally wasted. By salting fish entrails and letting them ferment for months, the Romans unknowingly created a sauce that the rest of the world would soon enjoy. One philosopher, Pliny the Elder, even called fish sauce “an exquisite liquid.” Fish sauce isn’t very common in modern Italian cuisine, but sauce is colatura di alici is still popular today. Made with anchovies and salt, it’s handy Garum’s youngest descendant.

However, others say that fish sauce, like soy sauce, originated in China. Back then, in the Zhou Dynasty, people fermented fish with a combination of soybeans and salt. In later dynasties, they took fish out of the equation entirely, resulting in what we know today as soy sauce. Fish sauce was still made, but not as much as soy sauce grew in importance.

But despite fish sauce’s waning popularity in China, its use began to rise in Southeast Asian countries. Just as Northeast Asian countries began to monopolize the use of soy sauce, countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia began incorporating more and more fish sauce into their cuisine.

What is that?

If the name alone wasn’t obvious enough, fish sauce’s main ingredient is — you guessed it — fish. Fermented fish to be precise; Most of that salty, fishy flavor comes from oily fish like anchovies or Galunggong.

The process of making fish sauce can be quite long precisely because of the fermentation. Some companies have found ways to speed up the fermentation process without sacrificing flavor. But many still stick to the traditional way of preparing spices –– by taking their time.

Patis with fish sauce

For this reason, there are different “grades” or “grades” of fish sauces on the market. Rather high quality Patis is prepared from small fish such as anchovies and small shrimp. For some Filipino manufacturers Patis is actually the offshoot or by-product of another popular spice –– Bagoong. The best Patis has the clearest liquid, with an almost golden color.

It takes around 9 to 12 months for your sauce to finally reach its fullest and best flavor. Sometimes the jars that the fish are kept in are left outside to soak up the sunlight. The warm sunlight also helps give the fish sauce its darker color and smell, which you can detect anywhere.

It’s the combination of fermented fish and sunlight that gives this type of sauce that classic pungent smell. For this very reason, many people shy away from fish sauce. But like many things in life, the greater the risk, the greater the reward. By looking past the fish sauce’s distinct smell, you’ll have an absolutely delicious addition to your pantry and dining table.

In this article, you will learn more about how to prepare fish sauce.

What makes it different from soy sauce, oyster sauce and Worcestershire sauce?

soy sauce

As mentioned earlier, soy sauce became the most popular condiment in Northeast Asian countries. Made from fermented soybeans and wheat, many use soy sauce (or toy) as a vegan substitute for Patis. Both give dishes that umami Flavor that you can find in many different dishes.

Because soy sauce doesn’t contain fermented fish as an ingredient, it lacks the strong smell we usually associate Patis. It’s also a much darker color, with fish sauce bearing more of an apple juice-like resemblance.

oyster sauce

Fish sauce is arguably more similar to oyster sauce than soy sauce. Oyster sauce definitely goes with the difference umami The taste Patis brings a little more than toy may. However, it still can’t match the distinct flavor that fish sauce can offer.

Another of their biggest differences is their consistency. Oyster sauce is thicker and would not be good for dishes that rely on it Patis’ thin consistency. It also tastes sweeter than fish sauce, which is predominantly salty.

Worcester sauce

Worcestershire sauce, popular in England, is often a viable substitute for fish sauce. The sauce is made from several ingredients including but not limited to anchovies, molasses, tamarind and vinegar. Like fish sauce, it is also fermented for a long time and provides that umami Taste.

Still, the sodium content of Worcestershire sauce remains much lower than that of fish sauce. Because of the abundance of ingredients, the flavor profile of Worcestershire sauce can also be quite different.

Is there a vegan version?

Some stores and brands offer vegetarian and vegan-friendly alternatives to fish sauce. A common ingredient in these alternatives would be either mushrooms or dulse. Dulse is a type of seaweed that can also be used as a snack. When mixed with sea salt and Tamariyou get that too umami Flavor has fish sauce –– without the fish!

If you can’t find vegan fish sauce at your local market, there are several recipes online that are quick and easy. You’ll have your own vegan fish sauce at home in no time!

What can you cook with it?

Brands like Barrio Fiesta and Marca Piña contribute to this Patis experience for your household. We often use a combination of fish sauce and calamansi to add a spicier bite to our dishes. If you want that extra spice, add sil (or chili peppers) will do, too.

But we’re so used to seeing fish sauce as a dip that we often forget it can be used in other ways too. Fish sauce is valuable not only after serving; You can also use it during the cooking process! In the Philippines the word pinatisan refers to the process of cooking meat Patis and other ingredients. These other ingredients are typically garlic, ginger, onion, pepper and bay leaves. This is similar to binagoonganwhich refers to mixing ingredients in shrimp paste.

Dishes like fried chicken and pork can be cooked with fish sauce for extra flavor umami Taste. You can even give the classic Adobe a twist by cooking it in fish sauce instead of the usual soy sauce marinade.

Fish sauce also goes well with hearty fried rice dishes, curries and – surprisingly – egg dishes! Fish sauce is a great substitute for salt when cooking certain soups and stews. Its recognizable flavor adds another layer of complexity to the flavor of many dishes, such as: sinigang And Tinola.


Is Fish Sauce Healthy?

Fish sauce has its own nutritional benefits aside from being a flavorful condiment. As previously mentioned, fish sauce can be a substitute for salt in dishes — and a healthier one at that.

A study in the Journal of Food Science showed that using fish sauce reduced sodium chloride levels by at most 25%. Even when these levels are reduced, you still get so salty umami taste from the Patis. Despite its salty taste and sodium content, fish sauce has helped lower high blood pressure. This is because its enzymes are similar to those found in ACE inhibitors, which help with blood pressure and vein relaxation. Its enzymes also support insulin production, making it helpful for diabetics.

When you include fish sauce in your diet, you also have a good source of protein and calcium. The fermentation process helps produce enzymes in fish sauce that boost our immune system. Conditions such as arthritis and other inflammations can also be relieved Patis.

Still, fish sauce can prove harmful to health in large quantities. Although it lowers sodium chloride levels, Patis still comes with high salt content. A tablespoon of fish sauce is enough for the recommended daily salt intake.

When consumed in excess, what was originally helpful and tasty can become harmful… so make sure to consume your fish sauce wisely!

what is fish sauce

Fish sauce is a valuable ingredient not only in Filipino cuisine, but in Southeast Asian cuisine as a whole. Its smell may be off-putting at first, but it would be unwise to write it off so quickly. With its wide repertoire of dishes, it is one of the most delicious and versatile spices you can find. No matter what you call it in your native language, Patis is the perfect companion in every kitchen.
Let us know what you would like to eat with us Patis!

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