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Fish Sauce

Battling the MSG Myth » Archive » Help! I Have a Question » Fish Sauce « Previous Next »

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Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2000 - 2:58 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I come from an Asian background and fish & soy sauce, unfortunately, are staples within the cuisine. Recently, I've stopped using a fish sauce that contains hydrolyzed protein and switched over to one that contains the following ingredients: water, anchovy extract, salt, and sugar. Any thoughts on whether this can be considered safe?
Deb A.
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2000 - 9:41 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Since anchovies are a high protein food, if they have been fermented the way most fish and bean extracts have been to create the flavorful sauces used in Asian dishes, they more than likely will contain some free glutamic acid. However, the amount may be less than what you have been using. Unfortunately, the only way to find out is to try it and see if you get any reactions.
Carol H
Posted on Saturday, March 24, 2001 - 6:19 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Colin and Deb A,

In my food science courses I found out why anchovies and sardines are cooked in flat tins. When fish is canned, the minimum amount of time to cook them the better as they fall apart so easily. The thinner the can, the quicker they can be heated. Raw fish is put in the can with oil and salt and heated to kill bacteria. The same heat cooks the fish. My boyfriend can eat canned tuna, canned sardines, and canned anchovies without an MSG induced asthma attack (if the other ingredients don't include MSG). If you have ever just added anchovies to a pan with olive oil, they fall apart almost instantly. I put this in pasta sometimes. Plain canned anchovies may be safe, just treat them very gently, and consume them right away - no leftovers.
Deb A.
Posted on Saturday, March 24, 2001 - 8:46 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks, Carol, I appreciate that information. I have tried some kipper snacks that were naturally smoked. I seemed to do alright with those. I like anchovies, but haven't tried them in years. I can see how they would add some zip to pasta. Bet a tiny amount stirred into some homemade pizza sauce (that's strained fresh pureed tomatoes for me) would be good, too. The only things to be careful about is added broth or calcium caseinate or preservatives, such as sulfites or phosphates.
Posted on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 3:18 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have seen some chefs on television (Mario Batelli of Molto Mario) who use some sardines or maybe they were anchovies, that come packed in a large amount of very course salt. The fishermen in Italy take them directly off the boat and they are packed in big cans/buckets of salt. This preserves them. They are so covered in salt, they look frosted with it. You simply take them out and rinse them/soak them in fresh water and use them in a recipe, or eat them. I have no idea where to find them, as I've never seen them, and feel maybe in a fancy deli or Italian Market they would know how to get them. My husband also eats plain sardines packed in olive oil, usually the Sprats, which come from Norway, and neither one of us has a reaction. That's one good way we can still enjoy the healthful benefits of fish without msg.
However, this doesn't answer the first question about fish sauce or soy sauce, which I still cannot tolerate - I've just had to eliminate soy sauce from all of my cooking. But I sure miss it!
Carol H
Posted on Thursday, July 12, 2001 - 5:03 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I would shy away from anything that is an "extract" there's no way of knowing how long it took and at what heat to "extract" it. I would avoid fish sauce and soy sauce.
Posted on Saturday, September 01, 2001 - 9:06 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)


what brand of fish sauce was it? i threw out all of mine after getting severely dizzy eating it. the ingredients were exactly the same as yours but i suspect that it does have hidden msg in it.i may be wrong and i hope i am because i eat alot of korean food but i've bought alot of food at korean markets that i reacted to that didn't indicate msg. it's used like salt, if not more than salt and is sold in bulk at these markets.i no longer trust any "sauce" including soy sauce, or for that matter anything that is salty like misos and other pastes.
Roy Piwovar
Posted on Sunday, September 02, 2001 - 12:47 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)


Yesterday, I heard a Vietnamese restaurant owner explain that commercial fish sauces are the juice pressed from anchovies that have been fermented for up to 6 months. This would make it akin to soy sauce and a possible source of MSG.

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