09/01/2016 21:45 GMT+7 print

Cat Hai Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a speciality of Vietnam which is often made from anchovies, salt and water. It is usually used in moderation because it is intensely flavored. In Vietnam, there are different kinds of fish sauces, however, Cat Hai fish sauce is the favourite in the market. It has also been selected as one of Vietnam’s top condiments by the Vietnam Guinness Book of Records.

To learn about the strongly flavored liquid, we visited Cat Hai Island where we saw many large posters advertising the product. The further we went into the island, the tastier and stronger the flavour is from old  fish sauce making workshops.

Vu Van Cao, Director of Cat Hai Seafood Service And Processing Joint Stock Company, acknowledged that fish sauce here is made by the traditional method from mainly Ca com (anchovies) and Nham, a species with a special taste from Cat Hai’s waters. The fish should be fresh. Stale material will ruin the natural flavor of the sauce product. Caught fish is cleaned before being mixed with salt at a certain ratio. The mixture (called chuop) is then placed into containers like wooden barrels or concrete tanks. The top layer is pressed by a bamboo-net and heavy stones. 

Outdoor tanks for making fish sauce in Cat Hai.

Fish sauce is sent to the outdoor tanks.

The mixture is put into filter tanks and when  it becomes pale brown,
it will be checked in terms of the  rate of protein.

Checking fish sauce in tanks.

Raw anchovies are placed in big jars.

After a fermentation period of about 12 months, the fish are totally hydrolyzed, yielding the salty, fishy liquid that has a very high protein content and has a light amber colour.  The collected liquid is sterilized and ready to serve. For commercial purposes, the sauce went through several steps like bottling and labeling before going to the market.

To increase the competitiveness of its products, units in Cat Hai have continually improved techniques and made some delicious fish sauces which are much sought after in the market.

Glass bottles are sterilized before bottling fish sauce. 

Bottling fish sauce at the workshop.

Cat Hai fish sauces are diverse.

At present, there are dozens of fish sauce making units in Cat Hai Island. Cat Hai Seafood Processing Services JSC has the largest production scale with hundreds of employees. Each year, the company sells about 3-4 million litres of fish sauce of different kinds. The company’s products are sold in 24 provinces with 700 agents and stalls. Furthermore, the company’s products are also exported to China, some countries in Eastern Europe, the Philippines and Laos.

Prizes won by Cat Hai Seafood Service And Processing Joint Stock Company :

- Gold Cup - the famous domestic and International brand  2003
-   Gold Cup - the prestigious brand in Vietnam 2003-2004
-  Gold Cup – the famous secure brand of Vietnam Fisheries Sector
-  Golden “Made in Vietnam” Brand in 2009
- Vietnam’s top ten famous seasoning sauces selected by the Vietnam Guinness Book of Records in 2012

Story: Ngan Ha
Photos: Tran Thanh Giang