Fish Sauce Powder
Fish Sauce Powder
Fish Sauce Powder is a pungent, salty seasoning made from dried fish bonded to an inert carrier. It is also known as fish powder, Asian fish sauce powder, or fermented fish powder.
What is Fish Sauce Powder
Fish Sauce Powder is the product of fermented fish—usually anchovies—that’s dried and bound onto a neutral base. It is predominantly found in Asian cuisines, and specifically associated with Vietnamese and Thai cuisine.
The Story Behind Fish Sauce Powder
While modern day fish sauce is often associated with Asian cuisine, the earliest written record of fish sauce is in the 3rd and 4th century BC, and it has origins in ancient Greece. Known at the time as garum, this sauce was made from fish entrails—the scraps left from cleaning and eating the nicer parts of the fish—put into a vat and arranged in alternating layers with a thick band of salt. It was pressed with weights and left in the sun to ferment, and then distilled to different levels of quality1. This sauce, often used as a salt substitute, was adopted by Rome and enjoyed tremendous popularity throughout the greater Roman Empire. It could be found in varying levels of quality. Garum and liquimen were the higher-quality products; allec, the remains left in the vat once the garum was strained out, was sold to the poorer families. Archaeologists have excavated garum factories, called cetariae2, from Spain to Israel. Its popularity held fast in Rome until the 5th century AD, which saw the collapse of the Roman Empire.
There are a lot of theories surrounding the connection between Roman garum and the Asian condiment that’s still being sold today. Some food historians believe garum traveled the Silk Road to Asia, and others believe that Roman soldiers spread it across the world as they expanded Rome’s power. But there is no hard evidence tying garum to Asian fish-based sauces like modern Vietnam’s nuoc cham. Indeed, some food historians believe that, despite their remarkable similarities in terms of ingredients and process, these sauces developed independently of each other3.
We can see the origins of an Asian-style fish sauce in the earliest methods for making soy sauce in China. 2,300 years ago, soybeans were mixed with fish and salt and fermented for use as a condiment4, which is approximately the same time that garum was being written about in the Mediterranean. Asia, though, experienced a major split in their fish sauce consumption. While fermented fish sauce maintained its popularity in countries like Vietnam and Cambodia, by the end of the 1st century AD it fell to the wayside in mainland China and in Japan as tastes and export dollars shifted in favor of fishless, bean-dominant sauces. Fish sauce didn’t factor into Chinese cuisine again until the 17th century, as traders in the South China Sea carried it up through the coast.
Though this places fish sauce in Asia and gives a plausibly organic theory for its origins without Rome’s influence, there is once again no real evidence that supports a definitive development story. Hence, at this time, the history of Roman garum and of Asian fish sauce are intertwined, and searching for information about one will inevitably turn up information about the other.
Where Is Our Fish Sauce Powder From
What Does Asian Fish Sauce Powder Taste Like
Fish Sauce Powder was created to deliver one thing: a salty, umami punch. It tastes salty and briny, with a pungent funk and a deeply savory flavor. It’s not immediately identifiable as “fishy” but rather, tastes bold and rich, with a meat-like background and a surprising, pleasantly sweet finish.
What Is In Asian Fish Sauce Powder
Asian Fish Sauce Powder begins as a sauce made from salt and fermented anchovies. Once the sauce is properly aged, it’s fully dehydrated and then attached to an inert maltodextrin base. Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate-based white powder that’s heavily processed to remove any remains of its parent plant except the starchy base. Fish Sauce Powder on maltodextrin is gluten-free.
How Do I Use Asian Fish Sauce Powder
Fish Sauce Powder can be used in a multitude of dishes. Add some to Chicken Pho Soup for a more traditional approach to this Vietnamese dish, or make a dry rub for the pork in a Banh Mi Sandwich and let that marinate for an hour. Mix with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and some Ginger Powder as a dressing for your sandwich or as a dipping sauce for eggrolls or rangoons. Swap out Worcestershire sauce for Fish Sauce Powder in Shrimp Pad Thai for a deep umami rush, or replace soy sauce with Fish Sauce Powder in Chicken Fried Rice. But remember! Fish Sauce Powder isn’t restricted solely to Asian food. Replace salt with Fish Sauce Powder and make some Homemade Marinara and Creamy Polenta or stir into Grilled Vegetable Pasta and explore its Roman connections. This would also be terrific rolled into a Compound Butter that’s topping a piping hot baked potato fresh out of the oven.
What Can I Substitute for Asian Fish Sauce Powder
You can substitute soy sauce or Tamari Soy Sauce Powder for Fish Sauce Powder. It has a similar pungent intensity, though it won’t have the same rich anchovy base.
|Ingredients||Fermented anchovies, maltodextrin, and salt|
|Also Called||Fish powder, Asian fish sauce powder, or fermented fish powder|
|Recommended Uses||Use in dips, marinades, dry rubs, stir fry|
|Flavor Profile||Bold, salty, and deeply umami|
|Cuisine||Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Asian, Mediterranean|
|How To Store||Airtight container in a cool, dark place|
|Shelf Life||1-2 Years|
|Country of Origin||Japan|
|Dietary Preferences||Gluten Free, Non-GMO|
Hungry for more information?
1 Maura, M. J. N. (2021, May 3). What is garum? More about Rome's funky sauce made of fish guts. National Geographic.com. Retrieved December 9, 2021.
2 Daley, J. (2019, December 18). Ancient Roman fish sauce factory unearthed in Israel. Smithsonian.com. Retrieved December 9, 2021.
3 Kurlansky, M. (2002). Salt: A world history. Penguin Books.
4 Ruddle, K. & Naomichi, I. (2010). On the origins, diffusion and cultural context of fermented fish products in Southeast Asia. In J. Farrer, Editor, Globalization, Food and Social Identities in the Asia Pacific Region (pp. 1-17). Sophia University Institute of Comparative Culture. Retrieved December 9, 2021 from ResearchGate.net.
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*