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Friday, June 21, 2024

A taste of tradition

Text & photos by Xuan Vinh

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Nestled along the coastal city of Danang is the Nam O fish sauce craft village, a testament to a tradition dating back over 400 years. This village stands as one of the few remaining bastions of traditional fish sauce craftsmanship in Vietnam. Approximately 100 households in this village are dedicated to the art of crafting fish sauce, upholding a tradition that has made Nam O fish sauce renowned for its distinctive salty flavor, drawn from the central coast’s secret blend of three parts fish to one part salt.

Huong Lang Co fish sauce is among the celebrated brands originating from this village. Produced entirely naturally, it boasts pure and unique fish sauce flavors that have earned favor among both residents and tourists. These artisans play a vital role in preserving the heritage of the fish sauce craft village while providing sustainable employment for hundreds of local workers who earn an average monthly income ranging from VND3-5 million.

In recognition of its cultural significance, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism bestowed the title of National Intangible Cultural Heritage upon the Nam O fish sauce making profession in 2019.

Residents of Nam O fish sauce village meticulously clean freshly caught anchovies to prepare fish sauce
Fresh anchovies are combined with salt…
… following the precise ratio of 3 fish to 1 salt
The mixture is then carefully placed in clay jars to ferment for a duration of 12 to 18 months
The initial product is known as “mắm nêm” (fermented fish sauce)
Upon completion of fermentation, the jars are opened, and the contents are stirred before undergoing filtration
To achieve the purest fish sauce, the liquid must be meticulously filtered through bamboo funnels
Drops of fish sauce trickle down slowly like morning dew
The finished fish sauce is carefully poured into glass bottles for distribution
Nam O fish sauce adheres to the “three-no” standards: No flavoring, no flavor enhancers, and no preservatives
Bui Thanh Phu (L), owner of Huong Lang Co, introduces Nam O fish sauce products to consumers
Nam O fish sauce is readily available in local stores
Tourists have the opportunity to savor local dishes enhanced by Nam O village’s specialty fish sauce
A local resident proudly displays her Nam O fish sauce products, recognized as National Intangible Cultural Heritage

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