|Fish sauce products made by the Ngoc Lan Fish Sauce Cooperative. (Photo: Ngoc Anh)
Almost every household in Tam Thanh has at least a few jars of fish sauce on hand. Tam Thanh commune has 4 hamlets – Hoa Ha, Hoa Trung, Hoa Thuong, and Tinh Thuy – that specialize in making fish sauce.
Le Van Gap, a resident of Hòa Trung hamlet, told VOV, “Tam Thanh has a few dozen households engaged in making fish sauce. We have kept the traditional method of our predecessors. Because of its aroma, mild flavor, and natural color, Tam Thanh fish sauce is much sought after.”
Tam Thanh fish sauce is famous for its strong aroma, sweet taste, purity, and a level of protein higher than many other fish sauces. Local temperatures make the fish ferment quickly, shortening production time.
But in order to produce delicious fish sauce, its best to place the jars in a cool place under a lean-to. After 5 months, the fermented fish sauce will have a light yellow color, and a reddish amber color after 12 months. The fish sauce is made from anchovies which, after being taken from the sea, are put into a jar of salt.
|Terracotta fish sauce barrels in Tam Thanh. (Photo: Ngoc Anh)
Tran Thi Ngoc Loan, a resident of Hoa Trung hamlet, explained the making process, “To create a high-quality product, you must use fresh anchovies. Fish that are too small or too big won’t have a good taste. The salt should be white and evenly granulated. After being caught from the sea and sorted, the fish are mixed with salt and put into fermentation jars. The ratio is 10 kg of fish to 4 kilos of salt and the mixture is fermented for 12 months.”
The uniqueness of Tam Thanh fish sauce is its light reddish amber color, sweet aftertaste, and distinctive aroma of rich and delicious anchovy protein, said Loan, adding, “Our product is made manually without preservatives or spices. It is safe for one’s health.”
There are about 40 fish sauce establishments in Tam Thanh. All follow the traditional method. The processing area is separate from residential areas to ensure food hygiene and safety. Thanks to the craft, people's lives have become stable.
|Nguyen Thi Hoi of Ms. Hoi's fish sauce facility in Hoa Trung hamlet checks the fermented fish sauce. (Photo: Ngoc Anh)
Nguyen Thi Hoi of Ms. Hoi's fish sauce facility in Hoa Trung hamlet, recalled that her family has been engaged in the business for 20 years and mainly sells to people in the region.
“One liter of fish sauce costs about 2.5 USD. Our income is stable and makes ends meet. Our pure fish sauce, passed down by our grandparents, has rich flavor-slightly salty,” said Hoi.
In addition to fish sauce, Tam Thanh produces shrimp paste and dried fish and squid of all kinds.
Fish sauce products made by the Tam Thanh Fish Sauce Cooperative and the Ngoc Lan Fish Sauce Cooperative participate in the national One Commune One Product (OCOP) program and have been rated 3 out of 5 stars by Quang Nam province.
Le Thi Ngoc Tam, Director of the Ngoc Lan Fish Sauce Cooperative, said that Tam Thanh fish sauce is now sold nationwide.
Tam added that her cooperative produces about 200 liters of fish sauce a day. Ngoc Lan brand fish sauce has been recognized as a 3-star OCOP product and aims to upgrade to 4 stars this year.
“Tam Thanh fish sauce is made of anchovies and no other type of fish. We use the fish caught in the open sea with no reefs, no estuaries, and high salinity, so the fish are very delicious,” Tam said and concluded, “Because of its natural aroma the fish sauce is favored by consumers in the North. Local administrations are very interested in craft villages and have organized trade promotion programs.”
Making fish sauce has helped many households in Tam Thanh escape poverty and have a stable source of income.