|Fish sauce is the most popular
Vietnamese seasoning. Vietnamese called it Nước Mắm. Vietnam is bound by the South China Sea. There is
a plethora of seafood.
Fish sauce is made of different types of fish. Anchovies are the tastiest.
Making fish sauce is a lengthy process.
As a little girl, my aunt's
mother taught her how to create homemade fish sauce. The first step
was layering the fish with cooked rice, sweet rice wine, and salt. This was allowed to marinate for at least 30 days. A batch
of marinated fish created 3 types of fish sauce.
first type of liquid was called Nước Mắm Nhĩ. After the liquid had been extracted
from the batch, water and salt were added. That batch was then cooked for at least one hour. The liquid extracted from that
batch was called Nước Mắm Nhất.
After the liquid had been
extracted from the marinated fish, more water and salt were added. The third batch was cooked for at least one more hour.
The liquid extracted was called plain Nước Mắm.
All three types of fish sauce were cooked individually and thoroughly with more
ingredients added such as sugar and salt as needed. Nước Mắm Nhĩ is the best tasting.
Upper class Vietnamese use this type as a dipping sauce. Nước Mắm Nhất is also very good. Nước Mắm Nhất is less pungent and thinner than Nước Mắm Nhĩ. Some folk prefer Nước Mắm Nhất to Nước Mắm Nhĩ. It is common among middle class Vietnamese.
Regular Nước Mắm is the cheapest and
used primarily for cooking.