HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Discussion

Need Recs for Fish Sauce

After reading all these posts extolling the virtues and versatility of fish sauce, I am convinced that I need to get some.

But what kind should I get? Some are made in Thailand and others are made in Vietnam. Is there a big difference?

Do you have a preferred brand? The idea of getting "cheap" fish sauce is frightening so I'll happy pay the extra 50 cents for better quality.

Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I've always bought Golden Boy fish sauce which is from Thailand and I've always been happy with it. I think the shop owner recommended it to me.

    1. I use Tiparos brand, from thailand. It's been recommended by chefs, and I've been happy w/ results.

      4 Replies
      1. re: NYchowcook

        Please let me know if the fish sauces have any MSG or Wheat/Gluten? I'm looking for gluten & msg free soy sauce and fish sauce. Thanks for your help.

        1. re: amoncada

          I do not know of any fish sauces containing gluten or MSG. It is usually just fish and salt. Since it already has such a strong umami character, MSG is unneeded.

          1. re: ghbrooklyn

            Many fish sauces are not just fish and salt -- many cheap ones contain sugar, and some contain added MSG as it's the fifth or sixth pressing of the fish and the "umami" has started to run out. It will be on the label, though, in the ingredients. If you can find "first-pressing" fish sauce, it'll be more expensive and you're much more likely to have the ingredient list be fish and salt.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              thanks for the heads up - The brand I have right now must be a first-pressing, but I can't remember the brand.

      2. My favorite is Squid brand, when I can get to Chinatown to buy it. I've been resorting to Cock brand, though, since it is what I keep finding at the supermarket; it works.

        1. I use Squid brand... and I use it a LOT. Meat sauce for pasta, pan gravy, even salad dressings if there's going to be a sweetener in it.

          Be aware that the plastic tops on all fish sauce bottles is cheap and gets leaky long before the fish sauce is gone for most people, so you may want to consider wrapping the top in foil to keep out the scent of fish sauce.

          1 Reply
          1. Here's a great short primer on shopping for fish sauce, plus on the left margin is a feature on deciphering labels that are in vietnamese:
            http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/essen...

            Here's a longer primer, with some same info as the vietworldkitchen website, plus short reviews of the major brands:
            http://www.panix.com/~clay/cookbook/b...

            Despite my userame, I dislike the filipino brands of fish sauce. I'm a loyal Three Crabs user (I think the actual brand name is Viet Huong), but I'm on the lookout for a really high quality one for pure dipping.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Alice Patis

              Me too. I keep both 3 Crabs and Tiparos on hand. Love them both.

            2. I have always bought three crabs. I think that the Frugal Gourmet recommended it while he was still an accepted public figure and I've always bought it and been pleased.

              Except that the lid always breaks = that is ubertrue!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Kater

                I try to avoid the Three Crabs brand due to this article

                <quote>
                I do not personally recommend Three Crabs Brand, which several Asian cookbook authors recommend, mainly because it does not appear to be a naturally fermented fish sauce but is, rather, a flavor-enhanced, processed food product. According to the label, hydrolyzed wheat protein and fructose are among the ingredients – both are additives that have not been adequately time-tested for their potential long-term effects on health. Their inclusion suggests that the sauce is made through the process of hydrolysis, whereby a catalyst (sometimes from chemical sources) is added to hasten fermentation, allowing the company to produce large quantities of the product in shorter periods of time than would be required in natural fermentation.

                It also appears suspicious that the label states that the fish sauce is a product of Thailand but is "processed in Hong Kong," further indicating that it is more highly processed than naturally fermented fish sauce. When compared with high-quality, naturally fermented fish sauces, the additives in Three Crabs Brand, to the discerning palate, gives this fish sauce a somewhat metallic, artificial after-taste. Since there are a number of excellent natural fish sauces, produced as has been traditionally done for generations, on the market, my preference is to stay with the traditionally made and time-tested products.
                </quote>

                http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/feat...

                1. re: peachblossom

                  Thank you! Now you're making me wonder if I need to do an inventory of ingredients I buy habitually. I've become a reasonably good cook and evaluate the ingredients I choose now pretty carefully, but this prompts me to realize that there are some buying decisions that I made nearly 15 years ago that were not very carefully considered. Now that they're become tradition I really haven't given them a second thought!

              2. Tiparos is the brand Corinne Trang recommended in her Essentials of Asian Cuisine (a wonderful book because it makes specific brand evaluations).

                1. I use Tiparos. Judging from the shelf space at the Thai grocery store, it's many people's favorite.