Fish sauce is a rich liquid condiment of Asian origin that ranges in color from gold to dark red.

Fish Sauce

also known as Teuk Trei, Patis, Aekjeot, Ngan bya yaya

What is Fish Sauce?

Fish sauce is a rich liquid condiment of Asian origin that ranges in color from gold to dark red.

  • The color of the liquid often reflects the weather under which the sauce was made.
  • Its basic ingredients include fish (anchovies or other small swimmers), water, and salt.

Transparent golden means it was produced under the sun, while a dark color means it was produced in cloudy weather. This sauce is referred to as teuk trei in Cambodia, patis in the Philippines, aekjeot in Korea, and ngan bya yaya in Burma.

The top ten most popular brands of this food are:

  • Thai Kitchen
  • Red Boat Premium
  • Lucky Brand Thai
  • Golden Boy Brand
  • Megachef Premium Anchovy Sauce
  • Son 40N
  • Premium Nuoc Mam
  • Blis Barrel Aged
  • Four Elephants Premium 
  • Squid Brand


The exact origin of patis is much debated. Legend has it that this sauce originated from ancient Carthage, a part of Tunisia. This belief was supported by the writing of Mago, a Carthaginian agricultural writer. When the Roman Empire conquered Carthage in 146 BCE, the process of fermenting fish was learned all around Europe due to the spread of the Carthaginian people. After it spread in Europe, patis became popular in Asian countries, where it was used in place of soy sauce


Patis is a staple in every Asian cuisine and has gained broader recognition in most kitchens today. This golden sauce is used for flavor in all kinds of dishes and salads. It is also used in place of salt in meals.


A 100ml serving of patis contains: 

This sauce contains many antioxidants that can enhance skin elasticity and suppleness. Similarly, it contains iodine and other vitamins that are good for health. However, this sauce has a high amount of salt, above 20% in some products. Due to its high salt content, excessive consumption may increase the risk of stomach ulcers and lead to cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure. It’s best to consume patis moderately.

Commercial production

This sauce is often mistakenly thought to be made from rotten fish. However, it is produced by adding salt to fish like anchovies. First, salt is added to fish, and then homogenized. After this, the fermentation process begins. Next, the mixture is transferred into a fermentation tank where it is kept for 6-12 months or more. The oil obtained from this tank is patis.  


This sauce can be stored in an airtight bottle or container. It should not be stored in a fridge to prevent the salt from crystallizing. Also, a consistent room temperature is required to preserve the taste.  

Fish sauce recipes

This sauce adds flavor to an array of dishes. Some popular recipes include:

FDA regulation

The FDA has no specific regulations regarding fish sauce. However, since this sauce is produced from fish, it falls under the guidelines stipulated by the FDA for handling Meat, Poultry, and Seafood. For food safety reasons, all equipment used in processing fish must be well sterilized and kept clean. When fish are not used on the same day, they should be kept refrigerated. 


Delany, Alex. “Wait, What Is Fish Sauce, Anyway?” Bon Appétit, Bon Appétit, 23 Mar. 2020,

“A Brief History of Fish Sauce – Vietnam’s Favorite Condiment.” Tuoi Tre News, 28 Oct. 2016, 

“Fish Sauce Is the Saltiest Offender of All the Asian Sauces.” Food, 13 Nov. 2018,

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Meat, Poultry & Seafood from Food Safety for Moms to Be.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA,