Homemade Fish Sauce

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I am in a phase. I have been curious to make this in small household batches ever since I saw how easily this was made in the province. Of course, when I saw this, it was in huge cemented squares of fermenting fish and salt, then transferred to urns for more fermentation. I was hesitant because it smelled, and I might be wasting a good kilo or so of fish. But then, for my sake, I decided to try it.

Draining the fish of water
Draining the fish of water

My mom, the ever consenting food purveyor of mine, was happy to let me do it, with a mild amusement on her face saying that this will most probably taste really good, especially since it’s pure. A lot of the stuff you buy in the supermarket shelves have been diluted to accommodate mass production. So well, let’s see where this will go.

Salted in a jar
Salted in a jar

I bought a kilo of tawilis, a local herring. I read that the best fishes to use this with are mackerel or herring. I was actually looking for galunggong, a kind of mackerel, but didn’t find any. The tawilis is smaller, about 4 to 5 inches head to tail, so it might be better. I washed them, kept them whole, and dried them with paper towels. I then added about 4 to 5 tablespoons of salt and let it sit in a glass jar.

It has been a couple of days actually and the fermenting is not so bad. The fish smells like dried fish or daing, not offensive, but really strong that it actually makes me gag a bit. I know I won’t be tasting this raw lest I throw up. I will have to boil it before even trying it, which supposedly kills off the good stuff, they say.

A few days in, I am thinking if it is done, but the fish are still quite whole, but soft. Supposedly, some ferment for months, some just for a few days. I am not sure what to do with it, so I just stuck it in the fridge for now. Slower fermentation, greater flavor, hopefully. 🙂 I will last a month before I open this thing up and cook it, or I will forget about it completely. I will post updates when I do remember to open it up 🙂


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