Vietnamese cuisine is known for its bold flavors and complex dishes, and a key ingredient that contributes to this reputation is the use of seasoning sauces. Vietnamese seasoning sauces add depth, complexity, and balance to dishes, and are essential components of many classic Vietnamese recipes. In this article, we'll explore some of the most popular Vietnamese seasoning sauces and how they're used in Vietnamese cuisine.


I - History of Vietnamese Seasoning Sauce

Seasoning sauce, also known as nuoc mam in Vietnam, has a long history that dates back to ancient times. The sauce was originally made by fermenting fish and was used as a condiment in Vietnamese cuisine. Over time, the recipe for seasoning sauce evolved, and different regions of Vietnam began to make their own unique versions of the sauce. Today, Vietnamese seasoning sauce is made with a variety of ingredients, including fish, shrimp, squid, and even vegetables.

II - Types of Vietnamese Seasoning Sauce

1 - Fish Sauce
Fish sauce, or "nuoc mam" in Vietnamese, is arguably the most important and ubiquitous seasoning sauce in Vietnamese cuisine. It's made by fermenting small fish (usually anchovies) with salt for several months. The resulting liquid is strained and bottled, and is used as a seasoning and dipping sauce in many Vietnamese dishes.
Fish sauce has a strong, pungent odor and a salty, savory flavor. It's used in marinades, stir-fries, and dipping sauces, and is an essential ingredient in many soups, including the iconic Vietnamese noodle soup, "pho." Fish sauce is also a common table condiment, often served alongside chopped chili peppers and lime wedges.
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2 - Soy Sauce
Soy sauce, or "tuong dau" in Vietnamese, is another commonly used Vietnamese seasoning sauce in the local cuisine. It's made by fermenting soybeans with wheat, salt, and water, and has a dark brown color and salty, savory flavor.
Soy sauce is used in marinades, stir-fries, and dipping sauces, and is an essential ingredient in many dishes, including the popular stir-fry, "com rang." It's also a common table condiment, often served alongside fish sauce and chili peppers.

3 - Hoisin Sauce
Hoisin sauce, or "tuong den" in Vietnamese, is a thick, sweet, and savory sauce that's commonly used as a glaze or dipping sauce. It's made from soybeans, sugar, vinegar, garlic, and various spices, and has a dark brown color and complex flavor.
Hoisin sauce is used to add depth and sweetness to stir-fries, marinades, and glazes, and is an essential ingredient in dishes like "banh mi" sandwiches and "bo luc lac" (shaking beef). It's also a common dipping sauce for spring rolls and other appetizers.

4 - Oyster Sauce: top Vietnamese seasoning sauce for seafood
Oyster sauce, or "tuong hao" in Vietnamese, is a thick, salty, and savory sauce made from oysters, soy sauce, sugar, and various spices. It has a dark brown color and rich umami flavor.
Oyster sauce is used to add depth and complexity to stir-fries and marinades, and is an essential ingredient in dishes like "bo luc lac" and "chow mein" noodles. It's also a common dipping sauce for steamed vegetables and seafood.

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5 - Chili Sauce
Chili sauce, or "tuong ot" in Vietnamese, is a spicy sauce made from chili peppers, vinegar, sugar, and garlic. It has a bright red color and fiery flavor.
Chili sauce is used to add heat and flavor to stir-fries, marinades, and dipping sauces, and is an essential ingredient in dishes like "bun bo hue" (spicy beef noodle soup) and "bun rieu" (crab and tomato noodle soup). It's also a common table condiment, often served alongside fish sauce and lime wedges.

III - How Vietnamese Seasoning Sauce is Used in Cooking
Vietnamese seasoning sauce is an essential ingredient in many Vietnamese dishes, and it adds a complex flavor profile to the food. Some popular dishes that use seasoning sauce include pho, banh mi, and bun cha. In these dishes, the sauce is used to add a savory umami flavor, as well as a touch of sweetness and acidity. seasoning sauce can also be used as a dipping sauce for fresh vegetables or as a seasoning for stir-fried dishes.
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IV - Health Benefits of Vietnamese Seasoning Sauce
In addition to its delicious flavor, seasoning sauce also offers several health benefits. The sauce is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, and it's a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health. Additionally, seasoning sauce contains beneficial bacteria that can aid in digestion and boost the immune system.

V - Popular Vietnamese Seasoning Sauce Brands
There are many Vietnamese seasoning sauce brands available in the market, but some of the most popular ones include Three Crabs, Red Boat, and Flying Lion. Three Crabs is known for its balanced flavor and is a popular choice for cooking and dipping. Red Boat, on the other hand, is made with only two ingredients: black anchovy and salt, which makes it a great option for those who prefer a more traditional and authentic flavor. Flying Lion, another popular brand, is often used in Vietnamese restaurants and is known for its intense umami flavor.

VI - Tips for Cooking with Vietnamese Seasoning Sauce
To get the most out of seasoning sauce in your cooking, it's important to use it in moderation and pair it with other complementary flavors. It's also important to choose a high-quality brand and to store the sauce in a cool, dry place. When using seasoning sauce in marinades or dressings, be sure to let the ingredients sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.

Vietnamese seasoning sauce is a key ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine and adds a unique and complex flavor to dishes. From its rich history to its health benefits and popularity in different brands, seasoning sauce is an essential ingredient that any food lover should try. By following the tips and understanding the different types of Vietnamese seasoning sauce, you can elevate your cooking and experience the bold flavors of Vietnamese cuisine.



Vietnamese Seasoning Sauce: An Essential Ingredient in Vietnamese Cuisine