Fish Sauce, called "Nam Pla" in Thai, is a Thai Seasoning Sauce that can be found in almost every Thai dish. It is the most important element of Thai Food Cooking to provide saltiness to it.

Thai Fish Sauce

Fish sauce - a salty, aromatic, transparent brown liquid made from fish is used in Thailand as salt in Western cuisine or soy sauce in Chinese.

If you have eaten Thai food ever in your life, then you’ve certainly eaten the fish sauce. In general, you can use fish sauce instead of regular salt not only for Thai food but also for any other.

Thai Fish Sauce Ingredients

Good fish sauces are made from a mixture of anchovy extract, salt, sugar and water. It should be clear and brownish in color.

How is Fish Sauce made?

Many people say that you would better not know how the fish sauce is made, but since some of you might want to have an idea about it, we will let you know a little.

As the name suggests, it is made of fish, of course. Apart from them, you can find water, salt and sugar in the composition.

Thai Fish Sauce is usually made from small fish that have little industrial value, both sea and freshwater. Most of them are anchovies and related species from 5 to 15 cm long, which are very common in the coastal waters of Thailand. Fish should be fresh, well washed and sprinkled with salt. Fish prepared in this way are thrown into barrels, poured with water, covered with bamboo mats and exposed to the sun. Fresh pineapple is sometimes added to speed up fermentation.

The fermentation process takes about 9-12 months. Speeding up this process makes the final taste of the sauce sour and unpleasant.

Then the fermented fish are filtered and the liquid is poured into glass vessels, which are "basked" in the sun for about two weeks. After this, the highest quality fish sauce is done for further use and it is ready to eat.

The second and third grade of fish sauce is produced with the addition of water to the barrels and after 2-3 months it is ready. The low-grade fish sauce is blended with remains of salted fish from barrels of high-grade fish sauce to enhance the flavor. In addition, a flavor enhancer, sugar, flavorings and colorants are added to a low-quality product.

Where to Buy Fish Sauce

As it is an essential product in Thailand, like salt, bottles of this light brown transparent liquid can be found literally in every supermarket and even 7-eleven stores.

In Thai stores, fish sauce is very cheap as a half-liter bottle normally costs no more than 30-40 THB. 

Thai Fish Sauce Brands

The choice of brands for Thai fish sauce is large. To choose a quality sauce, you need to carefully study the label. A good fish sauce has reddish brown and is completely transparent. If the color is too dark and cloudy, then the sauce is either low-grade or has been on the shelf for too long.

Different brands also have a different salty taste. Some sauce brands are always saltier. You can always check on the label how high quality it is.

Some of the best brands of Thai fish sauce are made by Tiparos, Golden Boy and Squid. We personally recommend Squid or Tiparos brand fish sauce which has no MSG, preservatives or added color.

Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)

How to store Fish Sauce?

Fish sauce is kept in the room temperature and near the stove so that it is always on hand. Its consumption in Thailand is very high and it can be used in every meal. If you don't cook Asian food that often, then keep your fish sauce in the refrigerator.

Thai Food Recipes with Fish Sauce

Like it was noted, most of Thai Food dishes include fish sauce, from Tom Yum soup to Som Tam salad. It is used in all types of dishes - appetizers, salads, soups, curries. Proper quality fish sauce gives a unique taste and aroma to dishes, and without it, Thai cuisine would not be that delicious.

Some of the most popular dishes with fish sauce can be found bellow.

Thai Sour Curry Soup (Kaeng Som) : แกงส้ม

Stir-Fried Pumpkin with Egg (Fak Thong Pad Khai) : ฟักทองผัดไข่

Thai-Style Pork Omelet (Khai Jeaw Moo Sab) : ไข่เจียวหมูสับ

Thai Chicken Soup: ต้มซุปไก่มันฝรั่ง

Tom Yum - Creamy Thai Sour and Spicy Soup : ต้มยำ

Seafood Dipping Sauce (Nam Jim Seafood): น้ำจิ้มซีฟู้ด

Pad Kra Pao (Holy Basil Stir-Fry): ผัดกระเพรา

Pad Kra Pao Tua Fak Yaw (Holy Basil Stir-Fry with Yardlong beans): ผัดกระเพราใส่ถั่วฝักยาว

Thai Sweet Basil Stir-Fry (Pad Horapa) : ผัดโหระพา

Deep Fried Tofu with Gravy Sauce (Tao Hoo Song Kreung) : เต้าหู้ทรงเครื่อง

Ivy Gourd Leaves Soup (Tom Jued Tam-Leung) : ต้มจืดตำลึง

Thai Style Noodles in Gravy (Rad Na Sen-Yai) : ราดหน้าเส้นใหญ่

Thai Style Noodles in Gravy (Rad Na Sen-Mhee) : ราดหน้าเส้นหมี่

Boiled Chicken in Fish Sauce (Gai Tom Nam Pla): ไก่ต้มน้ำปลา

In addition, Thai fish sauce goes well with rice. You will find a small ceramic jar filled with brown liquid and chili peppers, cut into pieces to eat with egg or fried rice in the form of the home-made "Nam Pla Prik" seasoning. Sometimes finely chopped lime is added.

Pla Ra

Pla Ra is recognizable as another type of fish sauce and it’s even written as Pla Ra Thai Sauce. However, this is not a fish sauce. This is essentially a fish paste with salt diluted in water. It smells and tastes so strong, making it not suitable for many.

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