A large bottle of fish sauce next to a small bottle of crab sauce
Does Fish Sauce Actually Come From Fish?
By Annie Hariharan
While plenty of foods have misleading names, fish sauce is indeed made from fish. The sauce is a staple in Asian pantries, particularly for Thai and Vietnamese food.
Historically, fish sauce was also widely used in the Roman and Greek empires, where it was known as garum, which was similar to present-day Southeast Asian fish sauces.
To make fish sauce, anchovies (or any other inexpensive fish) are salted heavily in a large vat. This will cause the fish to break down over time.
After 9-12 months, the fish will become semi-solid, and the solids will sink while the liquid will rise to the top.
At this point, fish sauce producers will strain the liquid in various ways. Some may use a cloth filter; others might use a spigot, or plug, on the bottom of the jars.
Finally, the fish sauce is left to air in the sun for a few weeks, which causes more fluid to evaporate, leaving a thicker fish sauce. It is then bottled and sold to the public.