What Does Fish Sauce Taste Like?


Quick Answer: What Does Fish Sauce Taste Like? 

Fish sauce is a fermented condiment made of fish, and it is extremely popular in Asian cuisine. It is a pungent and flavor-packed liquid that adds a salty, meaty, and umami-rich taste to several recipes. There are different types of fish sauce with slight differences, depending on the region of its origin. 

If you are looking to know what the taste and texture of the fish sauce are, this comprehensive guide has got you covered. 

So, let’s dive right into it. 

What is Fish Sauce? 

Fish sauce is a condiment or ingredient that is popularly used in Asia, and it is made from salted anchovies or fermented fish. It is a dark liquid and is packed with flavor.

It is used to add a savory and umami-rich taste to any dish, ranging from rice to vegetables.

What Does Fish Sauce Taste Like? 

Fish sauce is rich in umami and has a rich earthy savory flavor. It can be pungent but, at the same time, when added to vegetables or rice dishes, can bring out a distinct mix of saltiness, tanginess, and sweetness.

The fish sauce is made from fermented anchovies and is quite pungent.

It is also quite concentrated when it comes to its salty taste. So, a small amount of it goes a long way into adding umami-rich meaty flavor to any recipe.

Although fish sauce in itself is quite pungent and the smell may be off-putting, the funkiness of the sauce is lost once it is cooked.

In fact, though most people have been hesitant to try the sauce, they must have had it without knowing, because it is a part of quite a few amazing Asian recipes.

There are different types of fish sauce, varying from region to region, but they all share the same essential flavor and properties.

What Are Some Types of Fish Sauce? 

Several different types of fish sauce vary based on the region they come from and small differences in flavor and consistency. 

The Thai fish sauce (Nam Pla) is saltier than others on the list.

The Vietnamese fish sauce (Nuoc Mam) is sweeter in tone and lighter. The Philippines version (Patis) is thicker and heavier in flavor.

Here is a great video on the quality of fish sauce –

What Are Some Substitutes of Fish Sauce? 

Soy sauce, Oyster sauce or mushroom, and soy broth are great alternatives. Whether you have opted for a vegan diet or don’t like the smell or taste of the fish sauce but want a condiment that can add umami to your recipes, you can use any of the following substitutes.

You can also find vegan fish sauce which is made from shitake mushroom and soy sauce. It is also a great alternative for those who are allergic to fish. 

Does Fish Sauce Taste as Bad as It Smells? 

Fish sauce has quite a pungent smell which some might find quite offensive. Although it has such a strong smell, all its funkiness is lost once it is cooked. Just a few drops of the strong condiment add a refreshing and meaty flavor to your recipe. 

How to Cut the Taste of Fish Sauce? 

If you’ve added too much fish sauce to your recipe and it has gotten too salty, you can add sugar or more liquid to counter the taste. Vinegar is also a good option but keep in mind that it can be strong in flavor.

If you are wondering how to rid the smell of cooking with fish sauce, you can boil some white vinegar in the water alongside the dish you are cooking as it neutralizes the smell.

Are Fish Sauce and Oyster Sauce the Same? 

Although fish sauce and oyster sauce can be used in a similar sense, they are not the same and have distinct properties and characteristics. Fish sauce is more on the salty side, while the oyster sauce is sweeter. The oyster sauce has a thicker consistency with dark brownish color, while the fish cause is thinner and has a reddish shade.

Can Fish Sauce Replace Soy Sauce? 

Although you could use fish sauce as a replacement, it will depend on the kind of recipe and the amount of soy sauce the recipe demands. You won’t be able to replace soy sauce in equal parts with the fish sauce since the latter is more pungent and concentrated in flavor.

But the fish sauce is a great replacement to add some meaty salty umami-rich flavor instead of soy sauce. 

Is Fish Sauce Bitter? 

The fish sauce should taste salty and sweet with a refreshing punch. A good fish sauce will not taste bitter or sour. If it does, it is likely spoiled and should be discarded. Another way to know if the fish sauce has gone bad is to see if it smells rotten or odd in any way.

Is Fish Stock the Same as Fish Sauce? 

Though both fish stock and fish sauce are made from fish, they are distinct in flavor and consistency. They are not interchangeable in a recipe, and different measures are needed to work with them. The fish stock is milder and more diluted in flavor as compared to fish sauce.

Bottom Line 

I hope this article has helped you figure out the flavor and uses of fish sauce. 

If you have any doubts or would like to share some useful cooking tips and tricks of your own, it would be great to hear from you. 

Feel free to share this article with your Asian cuisine-loving family and friends. 

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About Amanda Jones

Amanda is a person with an eye for detail. She has been cooking since her childhood and loves to bake too. Recently, she's made the decision to pursue baking full-time and quit her 9 to 5 job. In the meantime, she still enjoys cooking and baking for friends and family, especially when it comes time for special occasions like birthdays or holidays!