Fermented Fish Sauce
Recipe type: Condiment
Prep time: 
Fermentation time: 
Yield: 2 cups
Fermented fish sauce is a strongly flavored condiment you can use in soups, stir fries, and of course, other fermented dishes like kimchi!
  • 1½ lbs. (700g) whole fresh sardines, anchovies, or mackerel
  • 2 cups (450 ml) filtered water
  • ¾ cup (170g) sea salt (25% brine by weight, SEE SALT CHART FOR LONGER TIMES)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) mixed or black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon (3 ml) lemon peel, grated or shaved
  • (Optional) 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) whey or pickle brine
  1. Cut whole fish into 1" pieces and add to jar.
  2. Mash fish into a slurry with a potato masher or mortar.
  3. Smash garlic cloves by pressing under the blade of a wide knife. Add to jar.
  4. Grate or peel lemon and add lemon peel to jar.
  5. Add peppercorns, bay leaves, salt, whey/brine and enough water to jar to cover fish completely. Mix well.
  6. Cover tightly with lid.
  1. Store in a cool place (indoors or outdoors) away from direct sunlight. Let sit 1 to 3 months. For the first few weeks, "burp" the jar every few days (preferably outside!) to keep pressure from building up.
  1. Strain contents through a fine mesh strainer into a glass bowl. Let sit a half hour. Discard the solids or use to make fish stock.
  2. Pour the strained cloudy brown liquid through a coffee filter set inside a funnel. You can funnel directly into one or more glass bottles. This filtering process will take several hours or even days.
  3. You should now have a clear pungent liquid that is brown or reddish-brown in color. Properly fermented fish sauce will keep for many months or years in the refrigerator.
  4. (Optional AIRING) If you fermented the sauce 6 months or longer, you may need to air the fish sauce out for a few weeks to remove foul, off odors. Give it a whiff, and if there are deisel or body odor smells, dispense clarified sauce into a wide container like a 2 qt bowl and cover it with a breathable cloth. Place it outside in a relatively shady spot for 2 weeks. Dispense back into bottles.
  5. Properly fermented and stored fish sauce will keep for many months at room temperature, or even years if stored in the refrigerator.
Recipe by Fermenters Club at https://fermentersclub.com/fish-sauce/