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Fish Sauce and Soy Sauce- Improve or Deteriorate w/ Age?

This is not a health question; it is purely a flavor question. Have you noticed a positive or neutral or negative flavor impact with 8+years old fish sauce and kikkoman soy sauce? I know aging/fermentation plays a role in producing both of them but wine doesn't last 'forever' ,so maybe they don't either. thx much.

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  1. Degrade. I feel it would lose its subtle aromas after time. Purely a guess though.

    1. I don't think soysauce continues to ferment after the manufacturing process. It's a fairly stable product and, if stored properly, can last indefinitely. However, do watch out for mould if not stored properly - if so, throw away!

      1. fish sauce - improve

        it gets funkier (good in my book)

        1. Aging or fermenting do not continue in the bottle. Ex; a 20 year old bottle of scotch doesn't become a 40 year old bottle of scotch just 'cus it hasn't been opened for 20 years. After opening, most condiments lose their umph over time.

          3 Replies
          1. re: cstr

            maybe for scotch, but not true for wine (up to a certain point; but @ wine is different).

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              I intentionally did not mention wine as it does age very well in the coffin. Fish sauce will begin to decline after opening but, then you probably know more about this than me.

            2. re: cstr

              I think distillates are different not only from wine, but also from products like soy and fish sauce. One reason is they are so alcoholic that they're sort of fixed, as it were, once they're bottled.

            3. Both those items get used up quickly at my house, so I will never know!

              But, I have made my own soy sauce before and I am still an avid "fermentaholic". The store bought products are usually pasteurized or otherwise stabilized so they do not continue to ferment. They will keep longer in the fridge.

              1. Degrade for sure.

                Fish sauce starts to have an weird deep flavor after awhile.

                As for soy sauce, most of them have preservatives for exactly this reason -- they deteriorate over time. Read your Kikkoman.


                1. When you start to get crystals in your fish sauce, it is really time to buy smaller bottles are increase Southeast Asian dishes in the repertoire.

                  Soy gets used up faster than any other sauce for me. Then sriracha, then fish sauce. But that would be expected with the large amount of seafood I consume.

                  I do enjoy the intensity of bottles of fish sauce that have been stored 3/4s empty and forgotten for a year or two. Way back in the lazerette from a beach party hastily stored. Which explains why I like to empty everything out once a year or two. :-)

                  1. I have had one or two bottles of fish sauce darken notably over time and seem to acquire a denser, darker flavor, but they remain usable for cooking. I'll prefer a fresher fish sauce for uncooked applications as in ginger-lime dipping sauces.

                    Soy sauce seems quite stable to me, but it really never lasts so long around here that I can be sure--never more than 12 months, that is.

                    1. Soy sauce oxidizes very quickly. Most people continue to use soy sauce that doesn't taste anything like it's supposed to. I went to a soy sauce lecture in Japan one time and the manufacturer poured us soy sauce into a white dish out of a fresh bottle and told us to examine it. At the end of the lecture he told us to taste it and look at the color change....it was totally different. He said the fresh flavor is what the manufacturer and the chef should try to preserve. Most high end sushi bars do not use soy sauce that has sat out for more than a couple days. If you make a sauce out of it the flavor will stabilize, but generally speaking you shouldn't keep raw soy sauce around very long. Buy smaller bottles, especially if you are not using it for cooking (i.e. sushi or sashimi).

                      1 Reply
                      1. I was lucky enough to learn about Phu Quoc fish sauce while in Vietnam and I took a six pack home. After opening each bottle, I had a limited period of time before the sauce inside became dark and took on a more intense, less pleasant flavor. I'm tempted to say it got saltier and muskier over time. Not unusable, but definitely sub-optimal.

                        This is pretty rough memory, but in the first months after bringing the batch home, it took two to three months to turn after opening. By the time I was on my last two bottles of the six pack, which was over a year later, each turned in less time -- 3-5 weeks after opening.