Yes, Fish Sauce is Paleo!
An Asian Pantry Staple
Fish sauce is a thin, brown, salty, smelly, liquid condiment made from fermented fish and salt. It has been a staple ingredient in various cuisines and plays a vital role in flavoring South East Asian dishes especially Vietnamese and Thai food. Fish sauce is added to dishes during the cooking process to add umami flavor. It is also used as a condiment and as a base dipping sauce.
Most fish sauces are made from anchovies, salt and water. They are arranged in barrels to ferment and then the liquid is siphoned off. Fish sauce also has different grades. The higher the grade of fish sauce, the higher its fish protein concentration and stronger umami taste.
Fish sauce is only made of fish and salt, therefore it is definitely Paleo! But it contains large amount of salt so be wary of consumption and use sparingly.
Any Health Benefits from Fish Sauce?
Way better than soy sauce, fish sauce dates back to Ancient Greece and Rome when it was called “garum” and was added to almost anything and is prized for its medicinal qualities. Not only it does add a great taste to dishes, it also provides vital nutrients to the body. Because fish sauce uses the entire fish (from head to tail, including organs) upon fermentation, it is rich in vitamins A, B and D and minerals such as iodine
Anchovies are commonly used in fish fermentation and they contain significant amounts of omega 3 fatty acid that is good for the heart. It also has antioxidants that have free radical fighting properties.
Be Sure to Read the Label
Not all fish sauces are made equally. Some fish sauces available in the market are highly processed and contain additives like fructose, sugar, MSG (monosodium glutamate) and hydrolyzed wheat protein. These bunches are certainly not Paleo! As a general Paleo rule, only natural and unprocessed foods are allowed in the Paleo diet.
One Paleo approved fish sauce found in stores is called Red Boat Fish Sauce. This brand only uses fish and sea salt. While this brand can be pricey, you can always opt to make your own fish sauce at home.
Homemade Fish Sauce
Rather than purchasing in the groceries and be unsure of the contents of your condiments, you may want to make your own sauce. All you need to make your fish sauce is fish, salt and water. Cut the fishes and place in a mixing bowl. Mash it and then place in a tight lid jar. Add salt and water. You can also try to add ingredients such as garlic or lemon rind to add a better umami flavor to your fish sauce. Make sure to cover the fish with water and then shake the ingredients together and cover tightly.
Fish sauce can be fermented up to 90 days but can also be completed as early as 4 days. Once the fermentation process is done, strain the solids found in the water. Strain the liquid completely and put in a clean jar or bottle. Put the fish sauce in a refrigerator and chill.
Other Names for Fish Sauce
Fish water, nam bplah
What Experts Say About Fish Sauce… Is It Paleo?
“Since fish sauce was and is made using the entire fish – head, bones, guts, skin, and flesh – it’s going to be rich in B-vitamins and minerals.” – Mark Sisson
All you ever wanted to know about Fish Sauce and Paleo
Mark’s Daily Apple. The Wonderful, Pungent World of Asian Fermented Condiments (and Why You Should Visit)
The Paleo List. Is Fish Sauce Paleo?
Paleo Plan. Is Fish Sauce Paleo?
The Paleo Mom. Fish Sauce
Paleo Porn. Is Fish Sauce Paleo?
Paleolista. Fish Sauce Substitute
Wod Nut. Paleo Fish Sauce
Nomnom Paleo. New Substitutions for the Whole30 Pantry
Did we miss anything?
Comment below and let us know what you think. Do you agree with our conclusion?
photo credit: Greg Cock Brand Fish Sauce