HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Discussion

Mam Ruoc - what is this Vietnamese sauce?

  • 4

I went to a northern vietnamese restaurant today and we had a dish called Mam Ruoc Hue Xao Xa Ot Thit Heo, where the primary ingredient is mam ruoc, and I'm curious about what is mam ruoc.

In my limited 3rd grade level vietnamese, I know Mam to be fermented shrimp sauce (the purple stuff), and ruoc to be shredded salty dried pork (the fluffy suff that looks like belly lint), but the sauce we ate tasted nothing like the purple fermented shrimp sauce and nothing like the shredded fluffy belly lint pork. It was very pungent and salty but meaty tasting, not shrimpy tasting. Of course it also had minced pork, lemongrass and chiles so I have no idea if I was tasting the pork or the mam ruoc when I say it was meaty tasting, not shrimpy tasting.

Googling turns up this explanation of mam ruoc from http://www.vietmedia.com/cooking/?L=i...

Shrimp Paste (mam ruoc) - a dense mixture of fermented, ground shrimp found in markets throughout Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia - piled in large, dark brown or muddy red mounds. It is used in small amounts, due to its strong flavor.

Ok but to me that describes Mam Tom, the fermented shrimp paste. Is Mam Tom and Mam Ruoc the same thing, just different names?

My gramma used to make the dish we ate, but she died 16 years ago. My mom might know so I'll ask her. In the meantime, any hounds know what exactly is mam ruoc, and what is in the dish we ate today?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Ok a little sad to be replying to myself, but googling further I found this on http://www.vietnamhouserentals.com/vu...

    ----------------------------
    Mam Ruoc
    Just as Phu Quoc is known for its Nuoc Mam - fish sauce, Vung Tau is famous for its Mam Ruoc - fermented shrimp paste. "Ruoc" are small shrimps that are caught only during the rainy season. To prepare "mam ruoc", the "ruoc" are first cleaned and let dried under the sun for 3 months. They are then mixed with salt, grinded into powder and put in a jar and exposed to the sun for another 45 days. Sugar is then added to the mixture which is left fermented for 30 days. Finally the ruoc are dried again under the sun for 10 days and "mam ruoc" is now ready to be served, usually as sauce for various types of meat dishes.
    ----------------------------

    So mam ruoc is definitely made of shrimp, not pork. Interesting that this website says Vung Tau is famous for mam ruoc. Vung Tau is a southern city. But the dish we ate today had Mam Ruoc from Hue, and Hue is in Central Vietnam. So we ate something that a southern city is famous for, with an ingredient from central vietnam, cooked by a northern vietnamese. Hmm.

    1. Ok this is the last time I am replying to myself, I swear. There is also Mam Tep, which is made of fermented teeny tiny shrimp (really more like krill than shrimp). I forgot that my sister used to call me Patis (smelly fish sauce) so I called her Mam Tep (smelly shrimp sauce).

      So anyone know the difference between mam tom, mam ruoc, and mam tep?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Alice Patis

        Tom, ruoc, tep are different types of shrimps. You can distinguish them by their sizes. Ruoc are the smallest. Tep are bigger, and tom are the biggest. They also have different taste and flavors. Ruoc has very recognizable smell and taste. Tep and tom smell and taste similar. It depends in the regions of vietnam in which they make each type of mam. In the north, where tom and tep are abundant, mam tom and tep are more popular. Mam ruoc is orginated from the central because there are a lot of ruoc over there. Mam ruoc is the most popular ferment shrimp paste in viet nam though. There is also difference in taste of mam tom, mam ruoc and mam tep. Mam ruoc has the best taste so far. I know all this because i am from viet nam.

      2. Just as Phu Quoc is known for its Nuoc Mam - fish sauce, Vung Tau is famous for its Mam Ruoc - fermented shrimp paste. "Ruoc" are small shrimps that are caught only during the rainy season. To prepare "mam ruoc", the "ruoc" are first cleaned and let dried under the sun for 3 months. They are then mixed with salt, grinded into powder and put in a jar and exposed to the sun for another 45 days. Sugar is then added to the mixture which is left fermented for 30 days. Finally the ruoc are dried again under the sun for 10 days and "mam ruoc" is now ready to be served, usually as sauce for various types of meat dishes.
        Source: http://tour-in-vietnam.com/travel-gui...