If you’ve ever been to a grocery store in Southeast Asia, you may have seen jars of fish sauce next to soy sauce.
Fish sauce is a popular condiment used in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, but what’s the difference between them?
Let’s take a closer look at these two sauces and find out which one should you use in this anchovy sauce vs fish sauce comparison.
What is fish sauce?
Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in many Asian cuisines, and it has a strong, salty flavor.
It is made by fermenting fish in brine for several months, and the resulting liquid is then strained and bottled.
It is an important source of umami or savory flavor, and it can be used to enhance the taste of soups, sauces, and marinades.
It is also a key ingredient in many dipping sauces, such as nuoc cham in Vietnam, and Thai sweet chili sauce.
When shopping for this, look for products that are made with fresh, high-quality fish.
You should avoid products that contain added MSG or artificial preservatives.
What is anchovy sauce?
Anchovy sauce is a thick, dark brown paste made from ground anchovies, vinegar, and spices.
It has a strong, salty flavor that is often used as a condiment or dipping sauce.
It is typically made with chopped anchovies that are soaked in vinegar for several days.
The anchovies are then ground into a paste and mixed with spices such as garlic, black pepper, and salt.
It can be found in many grocery stores and is commonly used in Mediterranean and Asian cuisine.
How are they different?
There are many differences between these two.
First, fish sauce is made from fermenting fish, while anchovy sauce is made from ground anchovies.
This means that the former has a stronger flavor and aroma than the latter.
So, you would need to use less fish sauce than anchovy sauce to get the same level of flavor.
Second, fish sauce is typically used as a condiment or dipping sauce, while anchovy sauce is often used as an ingredient in recipes.
That means you’re more likely to see a recipe that calls for anchovy sauce than one that calls for fish sauce.
Third, fish sauce is typically clear or light brown in color, while anchovy sauce is dark brown.
This difference is not a big deal, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re trying to match the color of your sauce to the dish you’re making.
Finally, anchovy sauce is typically made with vinegar, while fish sauce does not normally contain vinegar.
Thus, anchovy sauce has a slightly tart flavor, while fish sauce does not.
Which one should you use?
Both can be used as condiments or dipping sauces.
But if you’re looking for an ingredient to add savory flavor to a dish, then the fish sauce is the better option.
It has a stronger flavor than anchovy sauce, so you would need to use less of it.
And since it doesn’t contain vinegar, it won’t add a tart flavor to your dish.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for an anchovy-flavored condiment or dipping sauce, then the anchovy sauce is the better choice.
Just keep in mind that it has a strong flavor, so you may want to use less of it than you would fish sauce.
Both of them have their own unique flavors that can enhance the taste of many dishes.
So, the best way to decide which one to use is to experiment and see which one you like best.
Popular recipes that use these two sauces
You can use fish sauce in many recipes, such as the following ones:
- Pad thai
- Green curry
- Nam prik pao (Thai chili paste)
- Tom yum soup
- Stir-fried noodles
You can use anchovy sauce in many recipes, such as the following ones:
- Caesar salad dressing
- Anchovy toast
How do you select the best type of fish sauce?
First, you should look for products that are made with fresh, high-quality fish.
You should also avoid products that contain added MSG or artificial preservatives. (source)
When shopping, you might see different types labeled as “light” or “dark.”
The light sauces are typically made with younger fish and have a milder flavor, while the dark sauces are made with older fish and have a stronger flavor.
So, if you’re not sure which type of sauce you want, you can start by trying the light sauces and then move on to the dark sauces if you want something with more flavor.
Another thing to keep in mind is that fish sauce often contains salt.
So, if you’re watching your sodium intake, you may want to choose a sauce that is lower in salt.
When it comes to brands, there are many different options available.
Some of the most popular brands include Red Boat, Three Crabs, and Squid Brand.
Try different brands and see which one you like best.
Does fish sauce have an expiration date or shelf life?
Yes, it does have an expiration date.
However, it’s important to note that the sauce will continue to taste good long after the expiration date has passed.
The shelf life depends on how it’s stored.
If you store it in a cool, dark place, it will last for up to two years.
If you store it in the fridge, it will last for up to four years.
And if you store it in the freezer, it will last for up to six years.
So, even though the sauce does have an expiration date, you can still use it well past that date if it’s stored properly.
How should I store my fish sauce bottle once opened to preserve quality?
Once you open the bottle, it’s best to store it in the fridge.
This will help to preserve the quality of the sauce and prevent it from going bad.
I’ve never cooked with anchovy sauce before, where do I start?
If you’ve never cooked with anchovy sauce before, you might want to start by trying it in a simple recipe like spaghetti with anchovy sauce.
This dish is made with just a few ingredients, so it’s a great way to get a feel for the flavor of the sauce.
If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, you can try using anchovy sauce in a recipe for pizza or Caesar salad dressing.
Just keep in mind that the sauce has a strong flavor, so you may want to use less of it than you would fish sauce.
What should I do if I accidentally use too much anchovy sauce in a recipe?
If you accidentally use too much anchovy sauce in a recipe, there are a few things you can do to tone down the flavor.
First, try adding more of the other ingredients in the recipe.
This will help to dilute the flavor of the sauce.
Second, you can try adding a bit of acidity.
This could be in the form of lemon juice, vinegar, or even tomato sauce.
Third, you can try adding a bit of sweetness.
This could be in the form of sugar, honey, or even fruit juices.
And finally, if all else fails, you can always add more of the dish’s main ingredients.
For example, if you’re making a pasta dish and you accidentally use too much anchovy sauce, you can always add more pasta.
Just keep in mind that it’s important to taste as you go, so you don’t end up with a dish that is too sweet, sour, or salty.
Anchovy sauce vs fish sauce – Conclusion
In summary, both these two types of sauce are condiments or ingredients that can add savory flavor to a dish.
They have many differences.
But the best way to decide which one to use is to experiment and see which one you like best.