The Fish Sauce produced in Vietnam (called “nước mắm” in Vietnamese) is a golden-coloured one that is fermented for a year in wooden vats in the dark.
In Vietnamese, “nuóc” means “water”; “mám” means “salted fish.”
Vietnamese fish sauce was essentially off the market outside of Vietnam from 1975 until the United States lifted trade embargoes against Vietnam in 1994. This period of almost 20 years allowed other countries to make a name in Western markets for their versions of fish sauces — and to market some of their fish sauces as imitations of Vietnamese versions.
Areas in Vietnam known for their high quality of fish sauce are Phan Thiet, and the island of Phu Quoc (since the 1800s) in southwestern Vietnam.
Phu Quoc fish sauce is made from anchovies from the Gulf of Thailand.
The Vietnamese government is now (2007) seeking protection within the EU to ensure that, in the EU, only fish sauce produced on the island of Phu Quoc can be called “Phu Quoc.” The Vietnamese feel that many producers, particularly Thai ones, are still trying to imply subtly on their bottles that the fish sauce is Vietnamese.v