fish sauce

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 24 03:44:05 UTC 2012

OED has both a Nuoc mam (Vietnamese--[1847], 1879) and a Nam pla
(Thai--1931) entry for fish sauce (liquid extract made from fermented
anchovies). But NO entry for "fish sauce" proper (everyone I know who
cooks with the product, including Vietnamese immigrants from the 1970s,
refer to it as "fish sauce" when not using the Southeast Asian names).
Well, there is a phrasal entry for "fish-sauce", but it's two quotes
1728/1818 for "sauce to be eaten with fish"--not quite the same thing.
Nor is there anything (except for one 1868 quote under Mollifying) for
"essence of anchovy"--the original British version of "fish sauce" that
was used as a base for Worcestershire Sauce, among other things. (Note,
however, that there have been multiple preparations of "essence of
anchovy", some involving cooking, but most mere brining) It also appears
to have been a common ingredient in salad dressings of the day. I found
it also in early 19th century cookbooks as an ingredient for various
sauce preparations for fish (e.g., an 1807 cookbook lists it along with
butter, flour and a glass of sherry, as additives to make sauce from a
cooking liquid that comes out from baked red mullet (en papillote, but
that name is not used--instead, oiled paper is mentioned; earliest
citation for "en papillote" in this sense is, for now, from 1814).


PS: Entry for caviar in 1802 Domestic Encyclopedia

> With regard to physical qualities of caviar, we shall only remark,
> that it is a nourishing food, and more easily digested than pickled
> salmon ; it somewhat resembles in taste, and nutritive property, the
> essence of anchovies ; though few persons, on first, trial relish its
> flavour.
[punctuation in the original]

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