Here's Why You Should Avoid Storing Fish Sauce In Your Pantry

As the name suggests, fish sauce is a sauce made from salt and fermented fish. It is used as a condiment in many Asian cuisines, the same way you might use soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. In fact, Bon Appetit says you can use a splash of fish sauce in place of a sprinkling of salt!

Fish sauce can be a flavorful addition to many dishes, not only as an ingredient in traditional Asian cooking but also in non-Asian foods. Serious Eats recommends adding fish sauce to roasted or fried Brussels sprouts, as an addition to poutine gravy, and as a salad dressing with an extra kick. You can even add fish sauce to your cocktails if you're looking to sip on something savory.

However, as a condiment, fish sauce is one of those items you may be accidentally storing in the wrong place. You might assume that it makes sense to store fish sauce where many other bottled sauces are stored — in the pantry — but for the best results, consider storing fish sauce with your refrigerated condiments.

Fish sauce can make your pantry smell a bit fishy

Though it may seem more logical to keep your fish sauce with the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce in the pantry, you should actually be storing it in your refrigerator. It can stay in a cool, dark place like your pantry while unopened, but once you break that seal, it's best to keep it refrigerated. According to Eating Well, warmer temperatures can make the gasses within the fish sauce build up. If the airtight seal is gone, well, you're going to have fishy gasses leaking out of the bottle and into your pantry.

Keeping fish sauce in your refrigerator rather than your pantry can also help extend its shelf-life. An unopened bottle of fish sauce is good for up to three years, but that shelf-life dramatically drops to a maximum of six months once opened (via Lacademie). If you store the opened fish sauce in the fridge, however, it can remain flavorful for up to a year. Another key reminder from Andrea Nguyen of Viet World Kitchen: "Make sure to close that cap after dispensing the fish sauce" and give it a good wipe down to keep the cap free from dried gunk that might interfere its seal.