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Fish Sauce: A historical query


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The 17th century "adventurer" William Dampier describes the process of making fish sauce in Vietnam thus:

"To make it, they throw the mixture of

shrimps and small fish into a sort of weak pickle,

made with salt and water, and put it into a tight

earthen vessel or jar. The pickle being thus weak,

it keeps not the fish firm and hard, neither is it

probably so designed, for the fish are never gutted.

Therefore, in a short time they turn all to a mash

in the vessel; and when they have lain thus a

good while, so that the fish is reduced to a pap,

they then draw off' the liquor into fresh jars, and

preserve it for use. The masht fish that remains

behind is called balachaun, and the liquor poured

off is called nuke-mum"

I'm interested in if he was accurate in describing the residue of fish sauce produced in this traditional manner (not re-used to produce lesser grades of sauce) as "balachaun", a name now more associated with fermented shrimp pastes?

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Belachan (malaysian term) or also know as "terasi" in indonesia is a fermented shrimp paste. I am not aware that Vietnamese also use Belachan in their cooking (but then I havent really cooked much Vietnamese cuisine) . I know for sure that Thai use fermented shrimp paste but they dont call it belachan.

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Hi,

I believe the "ancient method" of making fish sauce is still fairly common in Thailand, not sure about Vietnam but probably so. My understanding of how it's made is slightly different than the quote you provided, although this could be due to some regional variation or change in modern process.

First of all, to make the finest quality fish sauce only anchovy fish are used, not shrimp. Perhaps some people made fish sauce using shrimp along with other fish--not sure about that. But I've visited a fish sauce manufacturer in Rayong, Gulf of Thailand, who does things using the ancient method and I took photographs of the tanks and process, so you are welcome to see at link below. They put the anchovy fish in a concrete tank, adding salt so the salt content is 27%. This mixture of salt prevents any impurities or bacteria from entering the tank, even though the cover is not airtight, it is loose-fitting (your quote mentions "airtight"). The fish sit for 12 months (or more) and become totally hydrolyzed in the process. What's left is just sediment that falls through a raised filter in the tank, and I believe that sediment is not used later. The pure fish sauce is pumped out, filtered again, and bottled.

http://importfood.com/how_fish_sauce_is_made.html

As for shrimp paste, not sure if what is called belachan today (same as "kapi" in Thai, and commonly used in Thai cooking) was once the remaining sediment of fish sauce. Maybe not? As far as I know, to make shrimp paste now, only tiny plankton shrimp are used, and the process starts when the shrimp are freshly caught. The shrimp are mixed with salt, put in a tank and left to sit for 2 days. Then the mixture is put under sunlight for a day or two, pounded up and pulverized, and put back in a tank to ferment for 6 months. If you follow the link above, near the bottom of the page is a link to shrimp paste info & photos as well.

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I'm interested in if he was accurate in describing the residue of fish sauce produced in this traditional manner (not re-used to produce lesser grades of sauce) as "balachaun", a name now more associated with fermented shrimp pastes?

Here's one modern day account of how fish sauce is made in Thailand. Click here.

I think William Dampier was accurate in his account as the process he describes is not very different from how fish sauce is made today in South East Asia, taking into account advances in technology and modern production methods employed to replace outmoded artisanal practices.

What is interesting though is his usage of the word 'belachaun' (belachan) to describe the residue. As far as I can ascertain belachan is a Malay word and its use in 17th Century Vietnam (if Dampier is correct) suggests a Malay influence in fish sauce-making. Ironically, although belachan is produced and eaten (with relish) throughout the Malay Archipelago, there are only a handful of fish sauce producers. Today, most people associate fish sauce with Thai and Vietnamese cuisine and not necessarily with Malay cuisine.

I am curious how Dampier described Vietnam in the 17th Century. I think the country received its modern name only in the 19th Century. Southern and Central Vietnam would have been called Champa in the 17th Century. Is it possible that Dampier got his geography mixed-up? Is it possible that he was witnessing the production of belachan in the Malay Archipelago where the fish sauce/liquor is drawn off as a byproduct?

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Belachan (malaysian term) or also know as "terasi" in indonesia is a fermented shrimp paste.  I am not aware that Vietnamese also use Belachan in their cooking (but then I havent really cooked much Vietnamese cuisine) . I know for sure that Thai use fermented shrimp paste but they dont call it belachan.

Hi MP. Belachan/blacan/blacan belongs to a superfamily of similar sounding shrimp preserves (Balchão in Goa, Ballychow in Calcutta, Balichao/Balichung in Macau, Blachang in Sri Lanka, Balachaung in Burma, Bagoong in the Philippines, Balachong/Balichow/Bullachong etc to the British Raj). The actual composition varies quite a bit from region to region.

In general they are quite different products from the fermented shrimp paste variously know as ngapi/trasi/kapi/mam tom and in Malaysia as Blacan/blachan. I'm interested in finding out is the fermented residue from making fish (and/or shrimp) sauce was ever know as balachaun, as mentioned by Dampier as this provides a link between the fermented shrimp pastes and the other Bal- named shrimp preserves.

From what I can tell the residue from making fish sauce isn't eaten today, but I'm sure it once was and I an particularly interested in working out what this product was called.

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I'm interested in if he was accurate in describing the residue of fish sauce produced in this traditional manner (not re-used to produce lesser grades of sauce) as "balachaun", a name now more associated with fermented shrimp pastes?

Here's one modern day account of how fish sauce is made in Thailand. Click here.

I think William Dampier was accurate in his account as the process he describes is not very different from how fish sauce is made today in South East Asia, taking into account advances in technology and modern production methods employed to replace outmoded artisanal practices.

What is interesting though is his usage of the word 'belachaun' (belachan) to describe the residue. As far as I can ascertain belachan is a Malay word and its use in 17th Century Vietnam (if Dampier is correct) suggests a Malay influence in fish sauce-making. Ironically, although belachan is produced and eaten (with relish) throughout the Malay Archipelago, there are only a handful of fish sauce producers. Today, most people associate fish sauce with Thai and Vietnamese cuisine and not necessarily with Malay cuisine.

I am curious how Dampier described Vietnam in the 17th Century. I think the country received its modern name only in the 19th Century. Southern and Central Vietnam would have been called Champa in the 17th Century. Is it possible that Dampier got his geography mixed-up? Is it possible that he was witnessing the production of belachan in the Malay Archipelago where the fish sauce/liquor is drawn off as a byproduct?

In "A New Voyage Round the World" Dampier described Tonquin (Đông Kinh), Malacca, Achin, so parts of Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. The description of the fish sauce (pg 28) seems to be from Tonquin (Vietnam), but as you say he could have confused terms or used a term that he had heard elsewhere in the wrong context.

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Vietnamese cooking does indeed use shrimp paste. I add it to a noodle soup called 'bun rieu' (someone correct me on spelling please).

I've seen it called mam tom, however I'm actually interested in the name of the residue/paste left over from making fish sauce and what this is called in various SE-Asian languages.

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It's possible that Dampier observed the process in Vietnam, but got the words from an on-board interpreter who spoke some other South-east Asian language.

I have yet to untangle the history of either type of product in Japan, but in Japan at least, the divide between focusing on the fish, and focusing on the sauce/brine may be quite old. This is only tangential to your query, but here goes, just in case it helps "map" the cultural area of the product in your mind.

Both are used in Japan, but the fish are not allowed to rot right down into a paste (at least, I've never found such a product).

In Japan, the brine is pretty much topped up with salt and water as needed, but not replaced, since the cultures living in the fishy brine are crucial for both flavor and preservation.

One site says that cleaned and butterflied fish are dropped into the brine for two days and nights (this is brine kept at a controlled temperature, so it could be longer at natural temperatures). Then the fish are pulled out, drained, and dried in the open air, much like any other Japanese dried fish. Fish pickled in this fish brine and then dried are called "kusaya" - this is obviously a Japanese word, based on "kusai" (smelly, rotten).

The brine itself, used as fish sauce, has several names in Japanese - shottsuru (probably salt + broth/liquid, written as fish + soy sauce), ishuru, ushiru (fish + broth/juice/liquid), etc etc. It's all but impossible to buy, although it appears to have been used as an easily made substitute for soy sauce until quite modern times).

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I'm interested in if he was accurate in describing the residue of fish sauce produced in this traditional manner (not re-used to produce lesser grades of sauce) as "balachaun", a name now more associated with fermented shrimp pastes?

Here's one modern day account of how fish sauce is made in Thailand. Click here.

I think William Dampier was accurate in his account as the process he describes is not very different from how fish sauce is made today in South East Asia, taking into account advances in technology and modern production methods employed to replace outmoded artisanal practices.

What is interesting though is his usage of the word 'belachaun' (belachan) to describe the residue. As far as I can ascertain belachan is a Malay word and its use in 17th Century Vietnam (if Dampier is correct) suggests a Malay influence in fish sauce-making. Ironically, although belachan is produced and eaten (with relish) throughout the Malay Archipelago, there are only a handful of fish sauce producers. Today, most people associate fish sauce with Thai and Vietnamese cuisine and not necessarily with Malay cuisine.

I am curious how Dampier described Vietnam in the 17th Century. I think the country received its modern name only in the 19th Century. Southern and Central Vietnam would have been called Champa in the 17th Century. Is it possible that Dampier got his geography mixed-up? Is it possible that he was witnessing the production of belachan in the Malay Archipelago where the fish sauce/liquor is drawn off as a byproduct?

In "A New Voyage Round the World" Dampier described Tonquin (Đông Kinh), Malacca, Achin, so parts of Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. The description of the fish sauce (pg 28) seems to be from Tonquin (Vietnam), but as you say he could have confused terms or used a term that he had heard elsewhere in the wrong context.

Fascinating read. I got as far as page 28 and I am convinced he got his geography right. His nomenclature may have been faulty though. Perhaps he picked up the term 'belachan' earlier in his journey - having gone round the Straits of Malacca with various stops in Malacca and Johor (Pulau Tioman, Pulau Aur) it is not unlikely that he would have come across belachan in any of those places. Even today Malacca is famous for its top-grade belachan. In Pulau Tioman and Pulau Aur fishermen still make belachan for their own consumption or as a cottage industry. As for the etymology of the word belachan, it may well have Portuguese roots as the Malay language assimilated many Portuguese words after the conquest of Malacca by Vasco da Gama in 1511.

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It is more then possible that Dampier used a word picked up previously or from an onboard interpreter that either has roots in a SE-Asian language or from Portuguese.

In regards to the latter, it would made sense in terms of the amount of regions that the Portuguese introduced the product/recipe into, but I haven't managed to come up with a likely Portuguese root word. There are plenty of candidate Portguese recipes (seafood conserves, Escabeche, Achar) from the 17th century and some of them are very similar to the modern recipes, but I just can't see a candidate word origin.

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Vietnamese cooking does indeed use shrimp paste. I add it to a noodle soup called 'bun rieu' (someone correct me on spelling please).

I've seen it called mam tom, however I'm actually interested in the name of the residue/paste left over from making fish sauce and what this is called in various SE-Asian languages.

I know it as 'mam ruoc' (i.e. the fermented shrimp paste).

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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Is there a difference between Mam Tom (which I have seen labeled Shrimp Sauce in English) and Mam Ruoc (which I have seen labeled as both Shrimp Paste and Fish Sauce in English)?

I have been wondering about this for a while now.

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To be honest, I have no idea what 'mam tom' is. As for 'mam ruoc', I have no idea what it actually means, I only know how to refer to it. What I do know though, is that it's NOT fish sauce in any way (did you see this on the actual jars?). 100% sure it's shrimp paste.

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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To be honest, I have no idea what 'mam tom' is. As for 'mam ruoc', I have no idea what it actually means, I only know how to refer to it. What I do know though, is that it's NOT fish sauce in any way (did you see this on the actual jars?). 100% sure it's shrimp paste.

Yes, I have actual jars that say this.

One jar is labelled "Mam Ruoc Chau Doc -- Fine Shrimp Paste". The other jar is labelled "Mam Ruoc Da Nang -- Fish Sauce". Both jars list the contents as "fine shrimp and salt."

I have a third jar that is labelled "Mam Tom Thuong Hang -- Shrimp Sauce (Finely Ground)". The contents of this jar are listed as "Fermented shrimp and salt".

The content of each jar is a slightly different color. Maybe the labels reflect a translation problem? I know Chau Doc and Da Nang are towns in Vietnam, so I was thinking that the first two jars contained different regional versions of shrimp paste? But what about the jar labeled Mam Tom?

It's a mystery!!

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To be honest, I have no idea what 'mam tom' is. As for 'mam ruoc', I have no idea what it actually means, I only know how to refer to it. What I do know though, is that it's NOT fish sauce in any way (did you see this on the actual jars?). 100% sure it's shrimp paste.

Yes, I have actual jars that say this.

One jar is labelled "Mam Ruoc Chau Doc -- Fine Shrimp Paste". The other jar is labelled "Mam Ruoc Da Nang -- Fish Sauce". Both jars list the contents as "fine shrimp and salt."

I have a third jar that is labelled "Mam Tom Thuong Hang -- Shrimp Sauce (Finely Ground)". The contents of this jar are listed as "Fermented shrimp and salt".

The content of each jar is a slightly different color. Maybe the labels reflect a translation problem? I know Chau Doc and Da Nang are towns in Vietnam, so I was thinking that the first two jars contained different regional versions of shrimp paste? But what about the jar labeled Mam Tom?

It's a mystery!!

Ahh then it's probably (I assume) really bad translation? The 'sauce' was most likely referring to 'paste'. Maybe in the Vietnamese language, they don't really differentiate betwen 'sauce' and 'paste'?

Anyway, I just asked my mum about 'mam tom' and she said yes, that is different from 'mam ruoc'. Problem is she's not familiar with 'mam tom' because it's (apparently) essentially a Northern Vietnamese thing, which she doesn't really know much about...

She said she'll check up on what's the difference for me though :)

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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To be honest, I have no idea what 'mam tom' is. As for 'mam ruoc', I have no idea what it actually means, I only know how to refer to it. What I do know though, is that it's NOT fish sauce in any way (did you see this on the actual jars?). 100% sure it's shrimp paste.

Yes, I have actual jars that say this.

One jar is labelled "Mam Ruoc Chau Doc -- Fine Shrimp Paste". The other jar is labelled "Mam Ruoc Da Nang -- Fish Sauce". Both jars list the contents as "fine shrimp and salt."

I have a third jar that is labelled "Mam Tom Thuong Hang -- Shrimp Sauce (Finely Ground)". The contents of this jar are listed as "Fermented shrimp and salt".

The content of each jar is a slightly different color. Maybe the labels reflect a translation problem? I know Chau Doc and Da Nang are towns in Vietnam, so I was thinking that the first two jars contained different regional versions of shrimp paste? But what about the jar labeled Mam Tom?

It's a mystery!!

Ahh then it's probably (I assume) really bad translation? The 'sauce' was most likely referring to 'paste'. Maybe in the Vietnamese language, they don't really differentiate betwen 'sauce' and 'paste'?

Anyway, I just asked my mum about 'mam tom' and she said yes, that is different from 'mam ruoc'. Problem is she's not familiar with 'mam tom' because it's (apparently) essentially a Northern Vietnamese thing, which she doesn't really know much about...

She said she'll check up on what's the difference for me though :)

Please thank your mother for me! I have been wondering what the difference is for a long time. I will be sitting on the edge of my chair waiting to hear....

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  • 3 weeks later...
To be honest, I have no idea what 'mam tom' is. As for 'mam ruoc', I have no idea what it actually means, I only know how to refer to it. What I do know though, is that it's NOT fish sauce in any way (did you see this on the actual jars?). 100% sure it's shrimp paste.

Yes, I have actual jars that say this.

One jar is labelled "Mam Ruoc Chau Doc -- Fine Shrimp Paste". The other jar is labelled "Mam Ruoc Da Nang -- Fish Sauce". Both jars list the contents as "fine shrimp and salt."

I have a third jar that is labelled "Mam Tom Thuong Hang -- Shrimp Sauce (Finely Ground)". The contents of this jar are listed as "Fermented shrimp and salt".

The content of each jar is a slightly different color. Maybe the labels reflect a translation problem? I know Chau Doc and Da Nang are towns in Vietnam, so I was thinking that the first two jars contained different regional versions of shrimp paste? But what about the jar labeled Mam Tom?

It's a mystery!!

Ahh then it's probably (I assume) really bad translation? The 'sauce' was most likely referring to 'paste'. Maybe in the Vietnamese language, they don't really differentiate betwen 'sauce' and 'paste'?

Anyway, I just asked my mum about 'mam tom' and she said yes, that is different from 'mam ruoc'. Problem is she's not familiar with 'mam tom' because it's (apparently) essentially a Northern Vietnamese thing, which she doesn't really know much about...

She said she'll check up on what's the difference for me though :)

Please thank your mother for me! I have been wondering what the difference is for a long time. I will be sitting on the edge of my chair waiting to hear....

Sorry for the late reply! We've been fairly busy with personal issues these few days so I never really got around to getting a proper reply!

Knowing that, I went straight to my dad instead.

'Mam tom' uses whole shrimp, unlike the shrimp paste that is 'mam ruoc'. For 'mam tom', they leave the shrimps in a jar for around 6 months in a mixture of salted water and fish sauce (much like other pickling).

BUT to further complicate matters, because Vietnam has 3 main regions (north, middle and south), 'mam tom' and 'mam ruoc' may be referred to the SAME thing, but uses different names depending on the region.

In the case of the jars you have, I think your 'mam tom' might be the same as 'mam ruoc' (shrimp paste). Check which region of Vietnam you bought it from.

I think (note I am only repeating what I hear as I don't know much about this) the Southerners refer to shrimp paste as 'mam ruoc' and the whole shrimp as 'mam tom'.

Whole shrimp or shrimp paste, that is the question.

Edit: I just read that Northerners refer to 'mam ruoc' as 'mam tom'.

Re-edit: I just realised that everything I said must have confused you even more...sorry! :sad:

Edited by Ce'nedra (log)

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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To be honest, I have no idea what 'mam tom' is. As for 'mam ruoc', I have no idea what it actually means, I only know how to refer to it. What I do know though, is that it's NOT fish sauce in any way (did you see this on the actual jars?). 100% sure it's shrimp paste.

Yes, I have actual jars that say this.

One jar is labelled "Mam Ruoc Chau Doc -- Fine Shrimp Paste". The other jar is labelled "Mam Ruoc Da Nang -- Fish Sauce". Both jars list the contents as "fine shrimp and salt."

I have a third jar that is labelled "Mam Tom Thuong Hang -- Shrimp Sauce (Finely Ground)". The contents of this jar are listed as "Fermented shrimp and salt".

The content of each jar is a slightly different color. Maybe the labels reflect a translation problem? I know Chau Doc and Da Nang are towns in Vietnam, so I was thinking that the first two jars contained different regional versions of shrimp paste? But what about the jar labeled Mam Tom?

It's a mystery!!

Ahh then it's probably (I assume) really bad translation? The 'sauce' was most likely referring to 'paste'. Maybe in the Vietnamese language, they don't really differentiate betwen 'sauce' and 'paste'?

Anyway, I just asked my mum about 'mam tom' and she said yes, that is different from 'mam ruoc'. Problem is she's not familiar with 'mam tom' because it's (apparently) essentially a Northern Vietnamese thing, which she doesn't really know much about...

She said she'll check up on what's the difference for me though :)

Please thank your mother for me! I have been wondering what the difference is for a long time. I will be sitting on the edge of my chair waiting to hear....

Sorry for the late reply! We've been fairly busy with personal issues these few days so I never really got around to getting a proper reply!

Knowing that, I went straight to my dad instead.

'Mam tom' uses whole shrimp, unlike the shrimp paste that is 'mam ruoc'. For 'mam tom', they leave the shrimps in a jar for around 6 months in a mixture of salted water and fish sauce (much like other pickling).

BUT to further complicate matters, because Vietnam has 3 main regions (north, middle and south), 'mam tom' and 'mam ruoc' may be referred to the SAME thing, but uses different names depending on the region.

In the case of the jars you have, I think your 'mam tom' might be the same as 'mam ruoc' (shrimp paste). Check which region of Vietnam you bought it from.

I think (note I am only repeating what I hear as I don't know much about this) the Southerners refer to shrimp paste as 'mam ruoc' and the whole shrimp as 'mam tom'.

Whole shrimp or shrimp paste, that is the question.

Edit: I just read that Northerners refer to 'mam ruoc' as 'mam tom'.

Re-edit: I just realised that everything I said must have confused you even more...sorry! :sad:

I thinkyou're right -- the bottle I have that is labelled "Mam Tom Thuong Hang -- Shrimp Sauce (Finely Ground)" is probably the same thing as mam ruoc. It definitely does NOT have whole shrimp in it.

But I have seen bottles at my local Asian market that do contain small whole shrimp. Unfortunately these bottles do not have clear labels -- in English at least -- but I bet they are what your Dad described as mam tom.

This IS confusing, but I think you have cleared things up for me. And I thank you and your family for this information!

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To be honest, I have no idea what 'mam tom' is. As for 'mam ruoc', I have no idea what it actually means, I only know how to refer to it. What I do know though, is that it's NOT fish sauce in any way (did you see this on the actual jars?). 100% sure it's shrimp paste.

Yes, I have actual jars that say this.

One jar is labelled "Mam Ruoc Chau Doc -- Fine Shrimp Paste". The other jar is labelled "Mam Ruoc Da Nang -- Fish Sauce". Both jars list the contents as "fine shrimp and salt."

I have a third jar that is labelled "Mam Tom Thuong Hang -- Shrimp Sauce (Finely Ground)". The contents of this jar are listed as "Fermented shrimp and salt".

The content of each jar is a slightly different color. Maybe the labels reflect a translation problem? I know Chau Doc and Da Nang are towns in Vietnam, so I was thinking that the first two jars contained different regional versions of shrimp paste? But what about the jar labeled Mam Tom?

It's a mystery!!

Ahh then it's probably (I assume) really bad translation? The 'sauce' was most likely referring to 'paste'. Maybe in the Vietnamese language, they don't really differentiate betwen 'sauce' and 'paste'?

Anyway, I just asked my mum about 'mam tom' and she said yes, that is different from 'mam ruoc'. Problem is she's not familiar with 'mam tom' because it's (apparently) essentially a Northern Vietnamese thing, which she doesn't really know much about...

She said she'll check up on what's the difference for me though :)

Please thank your mother for me! I have been wondering what the difference is for a long time. I will be sitting on the edge of my chair waiting to hear....

Sorry for the late reply! We've been fairly busy with personal issues these few days so I never really got around to getting a proper reply!

Knowing that, I went straight to my dad instead.

'Mam tom' uses whole shrimp, unlike the shrimp paste that is 'mam ruoc'. For 'mam tom', they leave the shrimps in a jar for around 6 months in a mixture of salted water and fish sauce (much like other pickling).

BUT to further complicate matters, because Vietnam has 3 main regions (north, middle and south), 'mam tom' and 'mam ruoc' may be referred to the SAME thing, but uses different names depending on the region.

In the case of the jars you have, I think your 'mam tom' might be the same as 'mam ruoc' (shrimp paste). Check which region of Vietnam you bought it from.

I think (note I am only repeating what I hear as I don't know much about this) the Southerners refer to shrimp paste as 'mam ruoc' and the whole shrimp as 'mam tom'.

Whole shrimp or shrimp paste, that is the question.

Edit: I just read that Northerners refer to 'mam ruoc' as 'mam tom'.

Re-edit: I just realised that everything I said must have confused you even more...sorry! :sad:

I thinkyou're right -- the bottle I have that is labelled "Mam Tom Thuong Hang -- Shrimp Sauce (Finely Ground)" is probably the same thing as mam ruoc. It definitely does NOT have whole shrimp in it.

But I have seen bottles at my local Asian market that do contain small whole shrimp. Unfortunately these bottles do not have clear labels -- in English at least -- but I bet they are what your Dad described as mam tom.

This IS confusing, but I think you have cleared things up for me. And I thank you and your family for this information!

Mam Tom and Mam Ruoc are regional names for similar products (fermented shrimp paste). However, some shrimp pastes with the same name differ due to the degree that the shrimp have broken down and how much they have been dried. A similar situation is found in the Philippines where shrimp bagoong is mostly a liquid like Malay cincalok, but somtimes a dried paste like belachan.

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The impression I get from Japan/Korea is that it's not so much the amount of liquid or drying, but a matter of preference for one of the two products resulting from the fermentation of squid or fish or shrimp in liquid.

Once it's fermented and matured, it is strained...producing a solid fermented product and a fermented fishy brine.

Over time, it looks as if different regions have favored one rather than the other. The same is true of miso and other fermented bean pastes vs. soy sauce (which is strained off the fermenting bean paste).

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The impression I get from Japan/Korea is that it's not so much the amount of liquid or drying, but a matter of preference for one of the two products resulting from the fermentation of squid or fish or shrimp in liquid.

Once it's fermented and matured, it is strained...producing a solid fermented product and a fermented fishy brine.

Over time, it looks as if different regions have favored one rather than the other. The same is true of miso and other fermented bean pastes vs. soy sauce (which is strained off the fermenting bean paste).

There is a socio-economic angle in this, different strata of the same communities show distinct preferences for one or the other product, or if the same product is consumed then there can be a difference in how it is consumed.

In the case of shrimp paste, it can either be seen as a condiment or as a major source of dietry protein, depending on what strata of the community you are looking at.

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  • 1 month later...

Further information on this. Another early European account (early 16th century) of the region (Vietnam) refers to the production of "Balachiam" fish sauce. This was in the city of Hoi An, interestingly several sources state that a dialect of Malay was spoken in this city, so it is possible that the Malay sounding word was correctly recored by Dampier in Vietnam.

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