Missions of Nuoc mam Tin
Retrieve the best fish sauce from 300 years ago
In the year of 1693, followed Nguyen Huu Canh, the first fishermen explored Hamu Lithit area (former name of Phan Thiet town, the metropolis of a coastal province in Central Vietnam, 200kms from Saigon). They learned the fermenting process to make fish sauce from the Cham. This process was brought to Vietnam from Roman Italy by the Indian merchants via the Silk Road. Being extracted from the huge wooden barrels, bottled in “tin” followed the unique recipes, “Nuoc mam Tin” became the nationwide top-seller fish sauce at that time.
Meanings of printed patterns on the earthenware pot (“Tĩn”)
The earthenware pot (“Tĩn”) with rope handle
Years ago, to make it easier to carry around or displayed at the market, they bottled fish sauce in tĩn after extracted from the enormous wooden barrels. Tĩn is a small round-gourd-shape type of bottle, made of baked clay and covered with a mixture of lime, molasses and dodder fluid. Outside the “tĩn” are straps made of rattan, bamboo, or rope.
Old water tower in Phan Thiet
The other side of the Cà Ty river is the old water tower, which is the iconic landmark of Phan Thiet and fish sauce originating from this area as well.
Small boats deliver “tĩn” on Cà Ty river
Those small rowing boats with sails were used to delivers hundreds of piled up “tĩn” filled with fish sauce.
Old square stamp
In the past, after bottled and sealed the fish sauce, they stuck a square label with a red stamp on it as a trademark.
HISTORY OF FISH SAUCE
2000 years & 300 years
146 BC | Ancient Rome
More than 2000 years ago
- The Roman Empire has 2 types of fish sauce: garum and liquamen, both were made by salting and fermenting fish.
- Amino acid and sweet were released by the process of fermenting fish, just like modern fish sauce.
9th century | ChamPa
More than 1000 years ago
- With the development of the maritime silk road since the ninth century, fish sauce has followed the Indian merchants imported into Champa.
- The voyage of this Silk Road originated from Rome through Middle East seaports (such as Cairo), along the South Indian coast, through Thailand, around the Strait of Malacca to enter the Pacific Ocean with the kingdom of Champa is the gateway to this ocean.
1693 | Viet Nam
More than 300 years ago
- After Lord Nguyen Phuc Nguyen married his third daughter, Nguyen Phuc Ngoc Khoa, to the Champa king Po Romé in the year of 1631, the Vietnamese approached the Champa way of making fish sauce. The word “ủ chượp” (brewing or fermenting) fish sauce today also originates from the Cham language.
- The Vietnamese in Phan Thiet have raised the job of making fish sauce to a higher level as an essential commercial industry with the appearance of huge wooden barrels, the birth of “tĩn” containing fish sauce and transport boats travelling around the country since 1693.
2018 | The first fish sauce museum in Phan Thiet
- Lang Chai Xua (Old Fishing Village) Museum, the first fish sauce museum, was established. The traditional “Nuoc mam Tin” (fish sauce in earthenware pots) was revived.
- With more than 2,000 thousand years since its appearance and 300 years of development in Vietnam, fish sauce has become the national spirit of the nation, deserving to be researched, preserved and the traditional fish sauce industry deserves to be kept and cherished.
The originator of Fish Sauce
Hundreds of years ago, the mandarin Tran Gia Hoa, inherited from the Cham “fish liquid” industry, found a way to make substantial wooden barrels from European merchants. He increased the production of “fish liquid” and put them in “tĩn” (earthenware pots) for transport by the best-selling boats in Vietnam. Since then, “fish liquid” has become accustomed to being called “fish sauce” like today, and Tran Gia Hoa is considered as the originator of the fish sauce profession in Phan Thiet and Vietnam.
Over the past 50 years, the fish sauce has gradually deteriorated since Big Fish Sauce Makers (hàm hộ) moved abroad. The 7X to 10X generations of Vietnam have absolutely no concept of pure traditional rin fish sauce with tent sticks, broomstick, filtered rice husks, presses, ferment, fish sticks, salt fields, “tĩn” ovens, rin fish sauce, pull-draw process, wooden barrels.
By 2018, the Old Fishing Village (Lang Chai Xua) fish sauce museum has restored 300 years of history and brought the fish sauce in the traditional “tĩn” back to the desire to gradually fill this generation void. So that every time they go along the fish sauce street from Phan Thiet to Mui Ne, the young generations will understand that they are passing through the Ca Ty river with the boats transporting “tĩn” throughout Vietnam, Phu Hai fishing port where Lord Nguyen’s fleets moored in the past, the magnificent Cham tower that once silhouetted the capital of Thuan Thanh, Pandura-nga with a millennial ferment technology. Those are the reasons why the old fish sauce attracted the intellectuals of Nguyen Thong, Han Mac Tu, Ho Long Dich that much.