Family-Produced Fish Sauce in Phú Quoc, Vietnam

As it ages, fish sauce takes on a dark, caramel-brown color; this young tasting sample was taken from Red Boat’s vermilion barrels.

“Nobody at the time was exporting high-quality Vietnamese fish sauce like this to America.”

One of nearly 800,000 refugees who settled, the funky, fermented mother sauce of his homeland, was nowhere to be found. Many Vietnamese families traditionally made their own, salting and fermenting wild-caught black anchovies. Pham, who arrived in California in 1979, traces his earliest memories of the stuff to the island of Phú Quoc, where his uncle once owned a fish sauce factory. The island is known for the anchovies that thrive in its surrounding waters and for the nuoc mam made in its many small villages.

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