Anchovy Sauce (Budu): A Salty Delight from Malaysia

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Budu, also known as anchovy sauce, is a condiment that originates from Malaysia. This sauce is a popular ingredient in Malay cuisine, and it adds a unique salty flavour to many dishes. Budu is made from fermented anchovies, which are left to marinate in salt for several months, resulting in a strong and flavorful sauce that is packed with umami.

History and Production of Budu

Budu has been a staple in Malaysian cuisine for centuries. It is believed to have originated from the east coast of Malaysia, where fishermen would use salt to preserve their anchovies. Over time, the preserved anchovies would ferment and become a flavorful sauce that locals began to use in their cooking.

To make budu, fresh anchovies are mixed with salt in a large container and left to ferment for several months. During this time, the fish releases its juices, which mix with the salt and create a salty brine. The brine is then drained, and the remaining liquid is left to age for another few months, which allows the flavours to fully develop. The resulting sauce is a dark, pungent liquid that is high in sodium and umami.

Usage of Budu in Malaysian Cuisine

Budu is a versatile condiment that is used in many Malaysian dishes. It is commonly used as a dipping sauce for fresh vegetables or grilled meat, and it is also used as a flavouring agent in soups and stews. In some parts of Malaysia, budu is even used as a substitute for soy sauce or fish sauce in recipes.

One of the most popular dishes that uses budu is called “ulam.” Ulam is a traditional Malaysian dish that consists of raw vegetables served with a variety of dipping sauces. Budu is often served alongside other dipping sauces like sambal and belacan, and it adds a unique salty flavour to the dish.

Health Benefits of Budu

While budu is high in sodium, it also has some health benefits. Anchovies are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health. Omega-3s have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, lower blood pressure, and improve overall heart function.

In addition, budu is a natural source of umami, which is a flavour that is associated with satisfaction and fullness. Umami has been shown to increase feelings of satiety, which can help with weight management.


Budu is a unique condiment that adds a salty, umami flavour to many Malaysian dishes. While it is high in sodium, it also has some health benefits, including being a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and a natural source of umami. Budu is an essential ingredient in Malaysian cuisine, and it is worth trying for anyone who loves bold, savoury flavours.

Article curated by Lavanyah Magenthiran