Kitchen & Pantry

Patis (fermented fish sauce) patis-fish-sauce

Known as nam pla in Thailand, nuoc mam in Vietnam, nam pa in Laos and ngan-pya-ye in Burma (Myanmar), patis is used for seasoning or as a dipping sauce. Patis making is an important industry in the fishing towns of Navotas and Malabon, both in Metro Manila. Fish is fermented with salt and water in large vats; the strained liquid becomes patis.

The importance of patis in Filipino culture and trade cannot be given more stress than with a law that sets specific standards for a liquid to be considered as patis. Administrative Order No. 325 (1977) defines patis as Òthe clear liquid sauce, straw yellow to amber in color, obtained from the enzymatic fermentation of the mixture of fish and shrimp and common salt and has a strong salty taste with traces of fishy odor.Ó

To qualify as patis, the following criteria must be met:
2. Standard of Quality

2.1 Specific Gravity 1.20-1.23
2.2 Total Solids not less than 32%
2.3 Salt Content 20-25% as NaCl
2.4 Protein Content

a) Patis for Domestic Trade

i) Special Patis not less than 8%
ii) Regular Patis not less than 4.5%

b) Patis for Export

i) Special Patis not less than 8%
ii) Regular Patis not less than 4.5%

3. Statement of Substandard Quality

…Any liquid seasoning or flavoring with similar characteristics but whose protein content is less than 2.5% shall not be considered patis and shall not be allowed to be offered for sale under the name ÒPatis Flavor.”

Does brand matter? In the case of patis, it does. Some patis are so smelly, opening the bottle can make you smirk. The ones with better quality have a more mellow aroma and does not scorch the tongue with the saltiness.

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