Recipes/ Roundup/ Vietnamese

15 Fish Sauce Recipes to Boost Your Cooking

15/06/2020 (Last Updated: 05/10/2020)

Fish sauce is a powerful, intensely flavoured ingredient ready to add a savoury flavour boost to your cooking! When used with care, this staple seasoning will transform your dish with its uniquely delicious umami kick. Have a bottle in the pantry? It’s time to learn how to use fish sauce in a range of recipes like salads, stir fries, soups and more.

Bottle of Vietnamese Squid Brand Fish Sauce.
15 Fish Sauce Recipes to Boost Your Cooking

What is fish sauce? How is it made?

Fish sauce is a staple Asian seasoning most commonly associated with South East Asian cuisines, but can also pop up across other cultures too. The pungent, fishy-smelling liquid is made through a process of fermenting small fish (such as anchovies) in sea salt. They’re left in barrels to ferment from a few months up to a few years, where, over time, they start to break down and release the concentrated, intensely-flavoured liquid we know and love. 

In appearance, fish sauce is usually a dark reddish brown liquid that is clear, without any sediment. 

Is it healthy?

Fish sauce is (unsurprisingly) high in salt, so it’s best used in moderation. However, using fish sauce instead of regular salt in cooking can be a great way to reduce the amount of sodium in a dish while still boosting flavour. It’s naturally high in protein and iron, and low in baddies like cholesterol and saturated fat. 

What does fish sauce taste and smell like?

On it’s own, fish sauce tastes and smells like fish and salt. It has a very strong flavour of fish, but not in an “off” or rotten way. Unless you have very curious tastebuds we’d never recommend trying fish sauce on it’s own, but when blended with other ingredients it adds a delicious savoury flavour that isn’t overly “fishy” in the final dish.

You don’t necessarily have to cook it either, fish sauce can be used to made delicious dipping sauces and marinades as well as be added to cooked dishes like stir fries and curries. 

Can fish sauce go bad?

Fish sauce can sometimes change colour and flavour as it ages in the bottle, but as long as there is no mould or strange smell, it should be fine to continue to use in cooking.

What can I use instead of fish sauce?

The most common substitute for fish sauce is soy sauce, which will give similar salty kick. 

Are fish sauce and soy sauce the same?

Both sauces are similar in how they are both made through fermentation and rely on salt to kick start the process. Fish sauce is a reddish brown colour while soy sauce is a dark brown colour. 

Since fish sauce is made from anchovies, it’s not suitable for vegan diets. Soy sauce, on the other hand, is made from soybeans and wheat, so it’s a great alternative for vegans

Fish sauce vs oyster sauce – what’s the difference?

There are just two ingredients in fish sauce – anchovies and salt, while oyster sauce is made from oyster extracts, sugar, salt and thickened soy sauce. Oyster sauce is much sweeter than fish sauce, it’s also darker in colour and less salty in flavour. 

15 Mouth-Watering Fish Sauce Recipe Ideas

Soups & Stews

Top view of budae jjigae heated up and ready to eat.
Korean Army Stew (Budae Jjigae)
Learn how to cook this easy Korean-American hot pot recipe. Korean Army Stew (Budae Jjigae) transforms simple everyday ingredients like spam, noodles, mushroom and veggies into a mouth-watering spicy stew. Budae Jjigae is perfect for sharing and entertaining too – if you have a table top cooker, why not cook it all together with friends!
Check out this recipe
A bowl of Asian chicken noodle soup garnished with coriander and chilli
15 Minute Asian Chicken Noodle Soup | Drive Me Hungry
Easy Asian chicken noodle soup made with a delicious Asian style broth flavored with garlic, ginger & hot chili oil. The perfect soup for cold & flu season!
Check out this recipe
A bowl of Chinese chicken noodle soup.
One-Pot Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe | MasalaHerb
My Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup is prepared and cooked in one pot within 20 minutes. Delightful Asian chicken soup flavors with egg noodles, which is super comforting when it’s cold outside.
Check out this recipe
Picking up noodles and chicken with chopsticks, from a bowl of Vietnamese chicken noodle soup.
Pho Ga Vietnamese Chicken Soup | The Rustic Foodie
This Pho Ga Vietnamese Chicken Soup recipe is warm and comforting! Chicken, veggies, and rice noodles are served in a flavorful broth with fragrant spices.
Check out this recipe


Thai shrimp curry with rice in a large dish, garnished with herbs and lime slices.
Thai Coconut Shrimp Curry Recipe | Peas and Crayons
This tasty shrimp curry is blanketed in the most luscious coconut red curry sauce and full of so much flavor! It’s quick, easy, and crazy delicious!
Check out this recipe
Tender beef pieces cooked in massaman curry sauce, in a bowl with a fork and spoon.
Beef Massaman Curry | Cook Eat Blog
The Beef Massaman Curry is one of the tastiest Thai curries you’re ever likely to experience. For those out there who are not sadistic about their spice or for those who just don’t like hot hot food, this is a great curry for you.
Check out this recipe
A bowl of Thai green chicken curry with fresh chilli and basil.
Thai Green Chicken Curry Recipe | Kitchen Sanctuary
Deliciously rich and aromatic Thai Green Chicken Curry with homemade curry paste. Make it mild or spicy with a vibrant creamy sauce. #thaicurry #chickencurry #thaigreencurry #thaichickencurry
Check out this recipe

Stir Fries

A bowl of thai basil chicken served on rice, garnished with fresh thai basil.
Thai Basil Chicken Recipe (Pad Kra Pao Gai) | The Forked Spoon
Thai Basil Chicken Recipe made with delicious bits of ground chicken, shallots, and fresh basil stir-fried in a light and flavorful sauce filled with lots of heat and just the right amount of sweetness. Less than 400 calories per serving and ready in just 25 minutes!
Check out this recipe
Singapore noodles with shrimp and bean shoots in a bowl, with chopsticks.
Singapore Noodles (Xing Zhou Mi Fen) | Posh Journal
Learn how to make a restaurant-style Singapore noodles dish at home. This fast-food, a favourite take out noodle dish is made with rice vermicelli and seasoned with curry powder and soy sauce. The noodles are stir-fried with fresh vegetables, eggs, and shrimp. It’s so flavorful and easy to make! Even better, it’s made without MSG!
Check out this recipe

Salads & Dipping Sauces

Bowl of nuoc mam cham with freshly chopped chilli.
Nuoc Mam Cham – Easy Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
Enjoy the delicious salty-sweet-sour flavour of Nuoc Mam Cham as an easy Vietnamese dipping sauce or salad dressing. This flavour-packed condiment is ready in less than two minutes!
Check out this recipe
Tam Huu – Three Friends Spring Onion Rolls
Like spring rolls without the rice paper, Tam Hữu (Three Friends) is the magic combination of pork and prawn tied together with spring onion. They’re a colourful bite-sized taste of Vietnam and a pinch to make. Complete with an irresistible sweet and sour dipping sauce.
Check out this recipe
A plate of wombok, cabbage and apple slaw salad next to a small bowl of dressing.
Wombok, Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw | The Devil Wears Salad
This Asian inspired Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw is a healthier version of the classic coleslaw with a twist of tang and freshness!
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Other Delicious Creations

A sliced stack of Filipino breakfast torta on a plate
Filipino Breakfast Torta – Omelet | All That’s Jas
A hearty omelet to start your day, this Filipino breakfast torta is easy to make and a great solution for a quick meal any time of the day. Best of all, you can make it your own by adding your favorite vegetables.
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Crispy chicken wings with a Vietnamese fish sauce glaze.
Vietnamese Fish Sauce Glazed Chicken Wings | Bun Bo Bae
Cánh gà chiên nước mắm are a staple at every Asian party or potluck. Sweet, sour, spicy and glossy perfection, with the thinnest crunchy coating. Mix up your next party or game day with these Vietnamese fish sauce glazed chicken wings!
Check out this recipe

These recipes are sure to help you find new and exciting ways to use up your shiny bottle of fish sauce. All you need to do now is decide: Which recipe will you try first? 

And if you’ve already tried one or more of these tasty dishes, let us know how it turned out in the comments!

Looking for MORE delicious ingredient ideas to use up those condiments in the cupboard? Try these:

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  • Reply
    Pauline @ I Really Like Food
    25/07/2020 at 12:19 am

    I always use a fish sauce when I’m making seafood paella. It’s great way of spreading the seafood flavour in larger portions.

    • Reply
      27/07/2020 at 11:50 am

      What a cool way to use it Pauline! Thanks for the tip. 😀

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