Phu Quoc


Learning how to make Phu Quoc fish sauce

Photo of Entry:  Learning how to make Phu Quoc fish sauce

The Phu Quoc brand of Nuoc mam (fish sauce) is  well known not only from North to South in Vietnam but also around the world, thanks to its delicious taste.

Many people want to try the taste of Phu Quoc fish sauce and some are interested in visiting the houses where it is manufactured, to better understand why it is so delicious. Most travel firms, hotels and resorts in Phu Quoc include this activity in their tours.

There are hundreds of firms manufacturing nuoc mam on Phu Quoc Island, from households to big companies, all with their own specific secrets. 

However, they all have one thing in common in creating Phu Quoc fish sauce. Nguyen Van Lam, an employee of Phu Quoc-Sasco Co. who specializes in manufacturing nuoc mam for local sale and export, said that most of fish sauce originating in Phu Quoc is made from ca com (anchovy).


“This is becathe island is home to a great number of anchovies” Lam explained.  “According to the experience of ancestors, anchovies supply a high quantity of protein.”

Hard work


The anchovies are mixed with salt with the rate 7:3, meaning that each 10-ton barrel needs seven tons of anchovies and three tons of salt. “This rate is to ensure the delicious taste of nuoc mam,” said Lam. 


The anchovies are then transported straight from the fishing boats into wooden vats where they are arranged in layers.  The top layer is covered by bamboo grates with rocks on them to press the fish and contain them in the liquid that oozes from the mixture.


The of wooden vats tied with ropes is imperative for the fish sauce to have a healthily, natural flavor and color, and the fish must be absolutely fresh; dead fish would produce a horrible smell that would ruin the nuoc mam.

After a period of fermentation, a valve at the bottom of the vat is opened for the liquid to flow. The first issuance of the liquid is called nuoc mam nhi. This is the tastiest and most expensive sauce. It is very pure and has the reddish brown color of whisky.

It takes from ten months to one year for the concoction to give off its juice.

Phu Quoc fish sauce produced by large companies is exported to France, the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea.


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