Phu Quoc Fish Sauce: Complete Guide
Fish sauce is a world-known specialty in Phu Quoc. Although it is not fit with everyone's taste, there is no doubt that it has its own value in the world culinary map. If you are curious about Phu Quoc fish sauce, this article is where you can find all about it.
About Phu Quoc Fish Sauce
Phu Quoc fish sauce is the common name for fish sauces produced in Phu Quoc, a large island in the southwest of Vietnam, in Kien Giang province. It is one of the famous fish sauces not only in Vietnam but also known in many countries around the world.
The main difference of Phu Quoc fish sauce is the characteristic cockroach wing color, completely natural, not by mixing colors like other places. This color of cockroach wings is obtained by fresh marinating with blood in the fish body and aging time in wooden barrels for up to 12 months.
The sea around Phu Quoc island has a lot of seaweed and plankton as food for anchovies, so there are huge resources of anchovies. The use of this resource to make the fish sauce in Phu Quoc has a history of over 200 years. At the end of the 19th century, people on Phu Quoc island sold fish sauce to Cambodia and Thailand. However, Phu Quoc fish sauce was only famous from the 1950s, reaching its peak in the years 1965-1975. During the subsidy period in the period 1975-1986, this industry gradually lost its market share, many barrel houses closed and changed jobs. However, since the economy gradually shifted to the market mechanism, fish sauce making in Phu Quoc gradually recovered. Up to now, Phu Quoc fish sauce has reached 8 million liters/year.
Before 1945, in Phu Quoc, there were nearly 100 barrel houses making fish sauce, mainly concentrated in Duong Dong and Cua Can. In the war, the barrel houses in Cua Can were destroyed, so the barrel houses gradually moved to Duong Dong and An Thoi as they are today.
Phu Quoc fish sauce
Ingredients and making process
Any type of fish can be used to make fish sauce, but Phu Quoc fish sauce producers only use anchovies as raw materials. Anchovies have about a dozen types, but only anchovies with pepper stripes, red anchovies, and anchovies have the highest quality of the fish sauce.
The difference of Phu Quoc fish sauce is that the anchovies are mixed fresh on board. The main fishing season of the year is from July to December. When the nets have just been pulled alongside, the fish will be picked up with a net, remove impurities and rinse with seawater, then immediately mix the island with salt and water. the ratio of 3 fish to 1 salt and then take it to the ship's tunnel. This way of mixing fresh fish keeps the fish meat from decomposing, the fish sauce has the highest protein content and does not have a bad smell.
Phu Quoc fish sauce is soaked and brewed in large wooden barrels of Litsea found in Phu Quoc forest, or replaced with pellets or bottles because it is hard to find. The size of the barrel is from 1.5-3m in diameter, 2-4m high, can brew from 7-13 tons of fish. Each box is braced with 8 straps, each strand is braided with 120 rattan fibers taken from Ong Tam mountain and Bac Dao. Each barrel can last up to 60 years if used regularly.
Phu Quoc fish sauce making process
Fish Sauce Factories in Phu Quoc
The barrel house is the common name for the place where the handicraft production of concentrated fish sauce is carried out in large wooden crates. Over time, at present, in Phu Quoc, there are nearly 100 fish sauce-making barrel houses and mainly focus on Duong Dong and An Thoi.
Coming to Phu Quoc fish sauce factory, visitors will be able to witness first-hand the scale of fish sauce production facilities and the process of creating fine drops of fish sauce. Giant wooden crates lined up to produce drops of pure fish sauce through small plastic cans. Besides, visitors will be able to visit and buy directly bottled fish sauce at the display area. Currently, only a few barrel houses are licensed to open the barrel house tour service
As to buy the authentic fish sauce with high quality and learn more about its making process, you have to come to some reputable factories below.
Khai Hoan Factory
- Address: Hung Vuong St., Duong Dong Town, Phu Quoc
- Opening hours: 7 am - 8 pm
- Fish sauce price: $4.7 - $7.5/bottle
With more than 200 years of experience, the Khai Hoan fish sauce barrel house is not only famous on Phu Quoc island but also known by many tourists around the world. Khai Hoan barrel house makes visitors overwhelmed by hundreds of wooden crates running along with the workshop and a modern and modern anchovy boat system. Khai Hoan's strict closed production process ensures safe, hygienic, and high-quality fish sauce bottles.
Khai Hoan Factory
Phung Hung Factory
- Address: Nguyen Van Cu St., An Thoi Town, Phu Quoc
- Opening hours: 9 am - 9 pm
- Fish sauce price: $4.5 - $7.8/bottle
Phung Hung is one of the most famous fish sauce barrel houses in Phu Quoc with a closed technology production line. Phung Hung fish sauce barrel house has a very large scale: Invest in more than 100 wooden crates arranged in 10 long rows, have a professional fishing team with modern boats and advanced product bottling lines.
Thinh Phat Factory
- Address: 30 St., KP1, Duong Dong St., Phu Quoc
- Opening hours: 8 am - 5 pm
- Fish sauce price: $4.5 - $8.7/bottle
Famous in Phu Quoc is not only Phung Hung brand but also Thinh Phat fish sauce barrel house - an address that many tourists love to visit. With the same scale as Phung Hung, Thinh Phat barrel house owns 2 factories with more than 100 wooden crates and is currently continuing to promote development.
The whole process of processing fish sauce in Thinh Phat follows traditional manual procedures, keeping the essence of the ancient heirloom recipe. After a rigorous selection process, only Thinh Phat fish sauce bottles that meet quality standards will be delivered to consumers, and unqualified products will be discarded before being sold on the market.
Thinh Phat Fish sauce
Thanh Quoc Fish Sauce
- Address: 36 Phan Dinh Phung St., KP1, Duong Dong St., Phu Quoc
- Opening hours: NA
- Fish sauce price: $2.2 - $12.6/bottle
Born in 1993 and now owned by Ms. Nguyen Thi Tinh who was the President of Phu Quoc Fish Sauce Organization for 3 terms and also the 3rd generation of her family. Thanh Quoc Fish Sauce factory provides the most expensive products in Phu Quoc and is also the very first brand that can export fish sauce to the European market here. Thanh Quoc's fish sauce products are pure and natural with bold colors and delicious flavors of the typical traditional fish sauce of Phu Quoc. Especially, they are the only ones who create the luxury “buried” fish sauce with the unique flavor and highest quality on the island.
Please note that: different from other famous fish sauce factories in Phu Quoc, the Thanh Quoc factory is not open for visitors so you can’t visit its production process but still can buy its wonderful products.
Tips to Choose the Authentic Phu Quoc Fish Sauce
- Buy at one of the above top-recommended fish sauce stores and factories
- Check the color and the taste of the fish sauce. The authentic Phu Quoc fish sauce has brown, red cockroach wings and when tasted, fish sauce has a gentle, rich aroma, a natural fatty aftertaste of fish fat.
- Check the protein level as the fish sauce in Phu Quoc usually has a protein level from 40 - 45% which is completely different from the fish sauce anywhere else.
- When the temperature conditions suddenly change from hot to cold or vice versa, salt crystals may appear at the bottom or neck of the bottle - a manifestation of the product line produced by traditional manual methods.
Taste Phu Quoc fish sauce
Being the most important export product of the island, fish sauce in Phu Quoc is so valuable and a highlight of this island. It is now not only a local cooking spice but also a special souvenir for international tourists who are fond of Vietnamese cuisine. If you want to buy authentic fish sauce, don't hesitate to book a Phu Quoc tour with us and gain the chance to visit one of the most popular factories there.
Image source: Internet