Nuoc Mam is a Vietnamese fish dipping sauce, served for almost all the dishes. Its production procedure may serve as an explanation to its peculiar taste and distinct aroma.
The main spot for the production of the sauce is a dark barn with giant barrels, where the sauce is being produced while oozing intoxicating and somewhat disgusting aroma. Prior to filling in the mixture of sauce-to-be, the barrels undergo a thorough cleaning of old portion remains. Then they are lined in with clean mats and corals that serve as a perfect natural filter. Afterwards the barrels are filled with small fish and fry. A large sea salt portion is poured in with a ratio of 3:2 (fish to salt) atop the fishy mass; another mat is put as a cover. The barrels are sealed with massive wooden lids. From now on, the barrels’ contents are on their way to becoming a Nuoc Mam, while being salted, and highlighting their juices for approximately a year. Once the sauce is ready, it is drained off in a thin stream into containers. Now it is the notorious Nuoc Mam with nearly 40% of nutrient nitrogen compounds (note: marketed bottles with sauce have only 25% strength of the original Nuoc Mam). Once the sauce is collected from the main barrel and prior to its bottling it is poured into ceramic pots/jugs and kept outside for a month. The aforesaid final stage of sauce production is shown in this panorama.