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A thin, amber colored sauce with a “fishy” scent and strong salty and umami flavors. Fish sauce’s Thai name is: nam pla and its Vietnamese name is: nuoc mam – translated freely to “fish water”. Fish sauce is the basic cooking sauce and condiment of varied East Asian cuisine (mostly: Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). Fish sauce is used in Southeast Asia in a similar fashion to how soy sauce is used by the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans, that is – both as a prominent ingredient in cooking and as a condiment to be put on prepared food. Fish sauce is made by fermenting fish (mostly anchovy) and salt, set in layers inside barrels that are set in the sun for several months. As the fermentation period is done the fish break down, yielding a paste from which a thin brown liquid is extracted. After being filtered, fish sauce is the result. The sauce is very salty and little of it suffices for flavoring dishes. Fish sauce has a strong umami flavor (the fifth flavor) due to the glutamic acid created during fermentation. As a result it gives foods a complex flavor, even though the sauce itself has a strong odor. When added in the right amounts to dishes while being cooked or after being served, its taste softens and it mixes harmoniously with other flavors. When using fish sauce in cooking (and especially when adding it to a wok while preparing stir-fried dishes), it is important to remember that the pungent smell it spreads is temporary, and that the dish’s flavor will end up balanced and appealing. Still, it is important to use it moderately, especially for those who are not accustomed to its use, to avoid giving the dish a flavor too “fishy” and unbalanced.