Are you confused about the difference between anchovy sauce and fish sauce?
You’re not alone.
These two condiments are often used interchangeably in recipes, but are they really the same thing?
In this article, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between anchovy sauce and fish sauce, and how they can be used in cooking.
From the umami flavor they bring to dishes, to their unique preparation techniques, we’ll cover it all.
So, whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting out, read on to discover everything you need to know about these two flavorful sauces.
Is Anchovy Sauce The Same As Fish Sauce?
While anchovy sauce and fish sauce may seem similar, they are not exactly the same thing. Both sauces are made from anchovies, but the curing processes differ slightly.
Fish sauce is a condiment commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly in Thai and Vietnamese dishes. It is made by fermenting whole fish or fish parts with salt and water for several months. The liquid that results from this process is then strained and bottled.
Anchovy sauce, on the other hand, is a condiment that is more commonly used in Western cuisine. It is made by grinding anchovies into a paste and then mixing it with salt and oil. The resulting sauce is thick and creamy, similar to miso paste.
While both sauces bring a strong umami flavor to dishes, the taste can vary depending on the preparation techniques used. Asian fish sauce, for example, has a special umami flavor due to the glutamate content in the fish used to make it.
What Is Anchovy Sauce?
Anchovy sauce is a condiment that is made from anchovies that have been cured in brine. The anchovies are ground into a paste, mixed with salt and oil, and then bottled. The resulting sauce has a thick and creamy consistency, similar to miso paste.
Anchovy sauce is commonly used in Western cuisine as a flavoring agent for dishes such as Caesar salad dressing and pasta puttanesca. It brings a strong umami flavor to these dishes and is often used sparingly due to its potent taste.
While anchovy sauce and fish sauce may have similar flavors, they are not interchangeable in all recipes. In dishes where anchovies play a dominant role, such as Caesar salad dressing or pasta puttanesca, substituting fish sauce may not work as well. However, in recipes where anchovies are used to add background flavor, such as stews or meatballs, fish sauce can be used as a substitute.
What Is Fish Sauce?
Fish sauce is a seasoning that is a staple in Southeast Asian cuisine. It is made by fermenting whole fish or fish parts, typically anchovies, with salt and water for several months. The mixture is then strained and bottled, resulting in a salty and pungent liquid that is used to add depth and complexity to dishes.
The ingredients list for fish sauce is generally very short, with the sauce being made up of mostly anchovies and salt. While other types of fish can be used, it is uncommon. Some bottles of fish sauce may have pictures of other seafood on them, but they all contain the same basic ingredients.
Fish sauce is used in a wide variety of dishes, particularly in Thai cuisine where it is known as “nam pla”. It provides much of the saltiness in Thai recipes and is also used in Vietnamese, Indonesian, and southern Chinese cuisines. It can be used on its own or as a base for other sauces and condiments.
One popular condiment made with fish sauce is nam phrik pla. This spicy mix combines roughly equal parts of fish sauce and Thai bird’s eye chiles, along with brown sugar, lime juice, and shallots or garlic to taste. The resulting condiment is intensely spicy and commonly served with rice dishes.
While some people may be put off by the taste of fish sauce, it is a valuable ingredient for adding umami flavor to dishes. It can also be used as a substitute for anchovies in certain recipes where they are used to provide background flavor.
The Similarities Between Anchovy Sauce And Fish Sauce
Despite the differences in their preparation, anchovy sauce and fish sauce share some similarities. Both sauces are made from anchovies and are known for their strong umami flavor. They are also used in similar ways, such as adding depth and complexity to dishes like Caesar salad, pasta puttanesca, and stews.
Anchovy paste and fish sauce have similar flavors, but people tend to use them to flavor different types of dishes. Both sauces have a salty and fishy taste, but fish sauce can be more pungent and overpowering than anchovy sauce. However, once mixed with other ingredients, both sauces can add a delicious savory flavor to a wide range of dishes.
In fact, fish sauce can be used as a substitute for anchovy paste in recipes where the anchovies are used to add background flavor. For example, 1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce can be substituted for one anchovy fillet in Italian-style turkey meatballs.
The Differences Between Anchovy Sauce And Fish Sauce
One of the main differences between anchovy sauce and fish sauce is their consistency. Anchovy sauce is thick and creamy, while fish sauce is a liquidy and runny sauce. This difference in consistency can affect how the sauces are used in cooking.
Another difference is in the way they are made. Fish sauce is made by fermenting whole fish or fish parts with salt and water, while anchovy sauce is made by grinding anchovies into a paste and mixing it with salt and oil.
The flavor profile of these two sauces also differs. Anchovy sauce has a strong anchovy flavor with a salty taste, while fish sauce has a more pungent and fermented taste that can be overpowering on its own. However, when mixed with other ingredients, fish sauce can add a delicious umami flavor to dishes.
While both sauces can be used interchangeably in some recipes, it’s important to note that they may not always produce the same results. For example, using anchovy sauce instead of fish sauce in a Thai dish may alter the flavor profile significantly.
How To Use Anchovy Sauce In Cooking
Anchovy sauce can be used in a variety of dishes to add a rich, savory flavor. Here are some ideas for incorporating anchovy sauce into your cooking:
1. Pasta dishes: Anchovy sauce can be used as a base for pasta sauces, such as puttanesca or aglio e olio. It can also be added to tomato-based sauces for extra depth of flavor.
2. Salad dressings: Anchovy sauce is a key ingredient in Caesar salad dressing. It can also be used in other vinaigrettes to add a salty, umami flavor.
3. Meat dishes: Anchovy sauce can be added to meatballs, stews, and braises to give them a meaty, umami boost. It pairs particularly well with beef and lamb.
4. Dips and spreads: Anchovy sauce can be mixed with mayonnaise or sour cream to make a flavorful dip for vegetables or chips. It can also be spread on crostini or crackers for a quick and easy appetizer.
When using anchovy sauce in your cooking, it’s important to keep in mind that a little goes a long way. Start with a small amount and taste as you go, adding more if necessary. You can also experiment with different brands of anchovy sauce to find one that suits your taste preferences.
How To Use Fish Sauce In Cooking
Fish sauce is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes to add depth of flavor. Here are some tips on how to use fish sauce in cooking:
1. Use it as a seasoning: Fish sauce can be used as a seasoning in place of salt in many recipes. It adds a savory, umami flavor to soups, stews, and sauces.
2. Add it to marinades: Fish sauce can be added to marinades for meat, seafood, and tofu. It helps to tenderize the protein and adds flavor.
3. Use it in stir-fries: A few drops of fish sauce can transform a stir-fry from bland to flavorful. Add it towards the end of cooking to prevent it from becoming too salty.
4. Mix it into dressings: Fish sauce can be used as a base for salad dressings or mixed with other ingredients like lime juice, sugar, and chili flakes to create a dipping sauce for spring rolls or grilled meats.
5. Make a condiment: Nam phrik pla is a popular Thai condiment made from fish sauce and chili peppers. It can be used as a dipping sauce or added to rice dishes for extra flavor.
6. Add it to tomato sauce: Adding a small amount of fish sauce to tomato sauce can enhance the flavor and add depth.
When using fish sauce in cooking, remember that a little goes a long way. Start with small amounts and adjust to taste. Also, keep in mind that the quality of the fish sauce can affect the final result of your dish. Opt for high-quality fish sauce for the best flavor.