The Rise of Fish Sauces

The key that chefs, cooks and food manufacturers have been looking for to help reduce levels of sodium without losing taste has been elusive. The challenge of reducing sodium levels in food leaves consumers feeling as if these foods lack taste and flavor.

However, within the pages of the January issue of the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), scientists may think that the key can be found in Vietnamese fish sauce. When the fish sauce was added to chicken broth, tomato sauce and coconut curry instead of salt, the amount of sodium chloride was reduced by some 10-25 percent while still retaining the same flavor intensity.
While fish sauces are a well-known staple in Asian restaurants and on ethnic grocery store shelves, many in the West are unaware of it.
Fish sauce is made with sea salt that is added to long-jawed black anchovies and it is prepared in large vats. This is allowed to ferment for period between 8-12 months. While it does have salt in it, it is not as salty as applying table salt directly to food.

Armed with this information from researchers from Taylor's University in Malaysia, fish sauce can serve as at least a partial substitute ingredient for salt and can help to reduce sodium levels in food without sacrificing flavor. The question is, will Americans take to the taste of the pungent liquid?


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