Somchok Kittisakunnam, a lecturer in the Thai school’s Department of Food Science for Health, said fourth-year students claimed the prize with a thesis based on their studies of sa-thon leaves (Millettia leucantha Kurz).
They found a way to produce a sodium-reduced mixed fish sauce from a leaf extract.
High-sodium diets are blamed for several risky health conditions, including heart disease and high blood pressure, which could lead to stroke.
Somchok said the students examined various natural sources of salt before settling on sa-thon, a hardy perennial indigenous to the Thai Northeast that grows in soil with a high saline content. The plant ends up rich in minerals but low in sodium.
They found that residents of a village in Loei’s Dan Sai district commonly gather sa-thon leaf sprouts and ferment them to produce a seasoning juice that can be used instead of fish sauce.
The juice is said to contain three times the protein of fish sauce.
The students spent three or four months getting the right mix of sa-thon juice and fish sauce but produced a liquid condiment with 25 per cent less sodium content than the more popular fish sauces in stores.
Consumers who agreed to try it found it similar in both salinity and flavour.
The research was supported by the Mae Kam Phan Farmers Group in Dan Sai.
The sauce is awaiting a Food and Drug Administration registration number but appears likely to become commercially available soon.
Published : October 24, 2019
By : The Nation