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Travelling to Phu Quoc : What is special about Phu Quoc fish sauce?

Posted By : Threeland Travel / Phu Quoc-Travel Tips

Phu Quoc fish sauce is produced according to the traditional recipe, ensuring high protein, characteristic color and delicious, rich flavor. If you are looking for the best Phu Quoc fish sauce, where to buy Phu Quoc fish sauce, how much is Phu Quoc fish sauce, etc., don't miss the information below!

Phu Quoc fish sauce is known as a unique culinary cultural beauty of the pearl island. Traveling to Phu Quoc is an opportunity for visitors to fully learn about the traditional fish sauce processing process with a history of hundreds of years and buy genuine Phu Quoc fish sauce as gifts for relatives and friends. 

1. History of Phu Quoc fish sauce making

Phu Quoc fish sauce making is a traditional craft that helps to ensure the lives of thousands of residents of Phu Quoc island. According to historical documents, this profession was formed more than 200 years ago, around the end of the nineteenth century. In the years 1965-1975, the profession of making fish sauce in Phu Quoc entered a period of peak development, exporting to many countries around the world.

During the history of formation and development, the production of fish sauce in Phu Quoc gradually progressed from rudimentary to mechanization of some stages, but still ensured to keep the traditional fish sauce flavor according to the secret recipe that passed down through generations.

After many ups and downs, the profession of making fish sauce in the pearl island has achieved certain achievements.

On October 8, 2012, the European Commission granted a protection title to the geographical origin of Phu Quoc fish sauce products. This is also the first product of Vietnam to be protected on the market of EU countries. Thanks to that, visitors know more about a famous specialty of Vietnam, thereby loving Phu Quoc in particular and Vietnam in general.

In Vietnam, on May 27, 2021, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism officially recognized the fish sauce making profession in Phu Quoc as a national intangible cultural heritage in the form of traditional crafts.

2. The special things of Phu Quoc fish sauce

2.1. Ingredient

The main ingredients to make Phu Quoc fish sauce are anchovies, salt, and some additional additives. The most perfect anchovies to produce quality fish sauce are anchovies and striped anchovies caught in the waters of Phu Quoc. The right time to catch the stout, nutritious anchovies is from August to February of the lunar calendar.

The salt for marinating fish to make fish sauce must be sea salt harvested in early autumn. That is the time when the dryness and dryness of grain salt is most guaranteed. Standard salt will be opaque white, evenly grained, clear border, dry, less impurities. The best salt producing areas for Phu Quoc fish sauce today are Phu Hai (Phan Thiet) and Ba Ria - Vung Tau province.

Notably, when purchased, salt will not be used to marinate fish immediately, but will be stored for a minimum of 3 months to remove the bitterness, acrid and harmful metals in the salt.

Additional additives in Phu Quoc anchovy fish sauce include flavor enhancers and sugar. These substances are balanced to put into fish sauce products with doses that meet the regulations of the State.

2.2. Equipment for making Phu Quoc fish sauce

Equipment and tools for making Phu Quoc fish sauce include many types, depending on each specific stage:

  • Incubation tank: This is used to marinate fish until fish sauce is produced. The box is made of litsea wood, beveled and braced with rattan so that there are no gaps. With plank lines, people will fill it with melaleuca bark. The box will be placed at least 50cm from the ground. On average, the compost bin will have a capacity of 12-15 tons of fish, producing 4,000-10,000 liters of fish sauce.
  • Hole: hole is used to draw fish sauce out of the brewing tank. This hole will be drilled on the side of the compost bin, about 20-30cm from the bottom of the barrel, and attach a faucet. The hole can be locked horizontally (latched) or not locked (smooth).
  • Collecting tank: Used to filter, level and store finished fish sauce. This tank usually has a volume of 1000 – 2000 liters, the largest can hold up to 10,000 liters.
  • Filter: Used to prevent fish carcasses from entering the hole, thereby ensuring the clarity of fish sauce. The filter is made by splitting rattan fibers and then tying them into a bundle (called a broom) standing upright inside the incubator in the right hole. The outside of the broom will be covered with a fixed mattress of rattan fiber and added 1 bag of grain salt.
  • Wooden bars: These are two square wooden bars that are closed parallel to each other on the mouth of the compost bin. The four ends are firmly fixed to the rim of the barrel mouth to keep the compression blister of the compost bin from unscrewing.
  • Bamboo blisters, planks: Used to compact salted fish in the barrel. Blisters are woven with thin bamboo or assembled with pieces of wooden planks.
  • Cover plate: Cover the salted fish inside the incubator. This iron plate will be made of nipa leaves slowly cut into pieces.
  • Palanquin: Rattan crates are used to store fish and salt when moving. The capacity of the barrel is about 100kg.
  • Rake table: Scratch the salted fish when put in the compost bin.
  • Ballast, fasteners: Used to hold the surface of the compression blister firmly in the compost bin, usually using boulders or small, short wooden bars.
  • Cans, plastic bottles, glass bottles: Used to store the final finished fish sauce.

2.3. Processing process

Phu Quoc fish sauce is produced by the compression method - the protein of fish meat will be broken down by the yeast present in the fish.

Anchovies after being caught will be cleaned and salted right at the ship to maintain freshness. This mixture is often referred to as "chuop".

After the ship docked, the "chuop" will be put into an incubation tank and covered with a thick layer of salt and then compressed to proceed with incubation in a clean environment. The incubation period usually lasts at least 9-15 months to produce the best finished fish sauce.

When the incubation time is over, the fish sauce will be ripe, with a rich aroma and characteristic red-brown color of cockroach wings. At this time, fish sauce will be withdrawn from the incubation tank by professional pulling method and continuously filtered until it has a honey-like clarity.

3. Visit Phu Quoc fish sauce barrel house

Visiting Phu Quoc fish sauce factory is one of the activities that tourists should not miss when traveling to Phu Quoc. During the tour, visitors will definitely have memorable experiences, specifically:

  • Learn about the history of formation and development of Phu Quoc fish sauce barrel house.
  • "The market" for the production and processing of standard fish sauce.
  • Taste the delicious and rich flavor of Phu Quoc fish sauce.
  • Take pictures of "virtual living" next to the giant tanks of fish sauce to record the memories of visiting the barrel house.
  • Have the opportunity to buy genuine Phu Quoc fish sauce as a gift.

Please write down the addresses of the fish sauce barrel houses that are open to visitors below and plan a visit right away!

  • Phung Hung fish sauce barrel house: Nguyen Van Cu, Quarter 4, An Thoi, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang.
  • Khai Hoan fish sauce factory: 11 Hung Vuong, Duong Dong, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang.
  • Thinh Phat fish sauce factory: Street 30, Quarter 1, Duong Dong, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang
  • Nam Ngu fish sauce barrel house: Group 1, Suoi Da Hamlet, Duong To, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang.

Phu Quoc fish sauce is a famous specialty of the pearl island, popular and well received by both domestic and foreign tourists and consumers. If you have not had the opportunity to visit the fish sauce barrel house and buy authentic Phu Quoc fish sauce, so hurry up and book a Phu Quoc tour at a good price and visit the island city today!

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