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Jun 24, 2007 01:02 PM

Is Korean Fish Sauce different from Thai Fish Sauce? HELP!

I tried to make chicken Pad Sei Iw last night using the only fish sauce I could find, which was in a Korean market. The label said "Salty Fish Sauce," but isn't it all very salty?...Anyway, I used it in the recipe and it turned out WAAAY too salty and too fishy tasting. I'm wondering whether, if I can get my hands on a bottle of Thai fish sauce, it will make a difference. Are the two very different from each other? Is there a less salty alternative or way to dilute the stuff I've got?

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  1. The versions of fish sauce from various Asian countries are different. In general (individual brands will also differ) Korean fish sauce is stronger than Thai and Chinese sauces. If you have to sub a sauce, always taste test first.

    Edit: You can dilute it with a little sugar water to offset the saltiness.


    6 Replies
    1. re: hannaone

      Thanks so much, I really appreciate the reply. :) I just went hunting and managed to find a Thai fish sauce called Tiparos, which looks like the right thing. The Korean fish sauce was kind of muddy looking and had a paste around the inside mouth of the bottle. I'm kind of wondering if it's specifically used for making kimchi? Bonus anyway, if so, because I've been wanting to try that, too! Thanks again.

      1. re: animatrixie

        Yes, Tiparos is a very good Thai fish sauce. There are also similar Thai fish sauces that have a picture of a squid or a rooster on the bottle (I can't remember the brand name of those). You just need to be aware that regardless of the brand, fish sauce is highly concentrated - be conservative to start with and add just a few drops to your pad see yu or other dish you're making and then add to taste.

        1. re: animatrixie

          Would you mind posting the name of the Korean Fish Sauce please? I recently made a pretty good Kim Chee actually the recipe was given by hannaone. It's very good, since I didn't have the product left I left the fish saue out and it would of been better with it.
          Try his recipe is easy and good! Very garlicky, pungent and the cabbage has a crunch to it. I whimped out adding the sauce which is important and then I messed up the steps. Never do that again. Anyway it is still delicious but only I know its missing the fish sauce.

          I'm making it again next week,this time with ALL the ingredients!

          1. re: chef chicklet

            Sure! It's made by Hasunjung and comes in a white plastic bottle. Apparently it is for making kimchi, so I definitely picked the wrong stuff for what I was trying to make. I might look into hannaone's recipe, too! Thanks!

        2. re: hannaone

          I always thought se asian fish sauce was way stronger than korean.

          it sure as heck tastes different though. what fish is fermented in korean fish sauce? I bet its anchovies like in se asia

          1. re: bitsubeats

            I usually find that Korean fish sauce is far saltier than the standard Thai and Chinese sauces. At least with the sauces my wife gets (she does all the Korean shopping).

        3. Don't know about Korean, but Vietnamese, filipino (patis), and Thai fish sauces are very different. The Vietnamese is cloudy, thickish and greyish--apparently as is your Korean sauce.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            The fish sauce I saw most frequently in Saigon was purple, but turbid for sure.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. I've actually never known that there was Korean fish sauce! My Korean mom always cooked with Thai fish sauce (Tipparos and Squid). Later she would use Three Crabs (Vietnamese) when she wanted to add more sweetness to a dish.

              15 Replies
              1. re: Miss Needle

                I think in Korean it is called aekjeot and it is usually made from anchovies.

                1. re: hannaone

                  I haven't seen this thread in a while, but I've got to tell you that I had the "pleasure" of eating my dad's jap chae made with aekjeot. A firm no in my book!

                2. re: Miss Needle

                  sounds like your mom and my mom are getting korean food tips from each other. My mom uses 3 crabs fish sauce in her garlic chive and green onion kimchi and oh my god it is so fantastic. She makes a HUGE amount because all of her korean friends make ask for it

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    3 Crabs is a product of Thailand. I have open bottles of 3 Crabs, Squid, Tiparos, and Tra Chang in my kitchen (twisted fish sauce taste test on night) and they are all thin and clear with monor but noticable differences in taste and smell.

                    I have looked for Korean fish sauce for my kimchi for quite a long time and haven't found it in Boston, even at the 88.

                    1. re: C. Hamster

                      Without actually seeing the bottle in front of me, I'm not sure which one is the "thick" sauce, but these are all korean made fish sauce.

                      condensed anchovy sauce

                      Salted fish sauce (kanari fish)

                      salted fish sauce for kimchi (anchovy)

             may also have some.

                      1. re: hannaone

                        Thanks. It was very helpful to see the photos.

                      2. re: C. Hamster

                        why don't you try reliable market in sommerville? I never looked for korean fish sauce in super 88, because truthfully they don't even have half of an aisle reserved to korean ingredients.

                        1. re: bitsubeats

                          True, the 88 in South Bay makes the Korean stuff share an aisle with the Japanese stuff. I don't think the 88 in Quincy or Kam Man is any better.

                          Where exactly is Reliable?

                          1. re: C. Hamster

                            in davis square in somerville. its the biggest korean grocery store in the area and it is still pretty darn small. It's close to macchu picchu and taqueria mexicana

                            1. re: bitsubeats

                              That's Union Square, not Davis. You can also get both Korean and Thai fish sauce at J & K Oriental Market, 2376 Massachusetts Ave in North Cambridge.

                              And personally, although I started with Tiparos, I like Golden Boy much, much better.

                        2. re: C. Hamster

                          Really? That's interesting! Because there's Vietnamese writing on the bottle.

                        3. re: Miss Needle

                          Hee hee! Miss Needle and Bitsubeats, all our mums seem to be on the same wavelength! My mother specifically recommended both the 3 crabs fish sauce and the squid fish sauce for making kimchi! I was quite surprised when she pulled it out. It does add a great flavour to the kimchi.

                          1. re: moh

                            Yes, all three of us must have had the same mothers! I wonder if there were any Korean moms who used Golden Boy. GB seems to be the gold standard with a lot of Thai cooks.

                          2. re: Miss Needle

                            There is not only Korean one, but 2 types. One made from myul chi, anchovy and another called kanari which is made from sand lance. The last one is close to Japanese ikanago, made with the same fish. In Japan there are still the shottsuru, but I don't know wich kind of fish it is made from, and the rare ishiru, made with squid and sardines.

                            Yes there is a lot of different fish sauce in Asia. Each one different of others.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              wow, there are tones ok from what i know 4 or 5 hehe Myeolchi ANchovie Liquid sauce Ganari ( a type of fish I dont know in english) Liquid sauce ekjeot saewoo ekjeot shrimp/prawn Liquid Sauce and Gasuo and myeolchi ekjeot Bonito and Anchovie Liquid sauce.

                              usually in Korea they use anchoive fish sauce usually but my mother inlaw uses saewoo ekjeot but I use anchovie sauce :)

                            2. The secret of many Asian sauces which are all extremely salty, is that they are accompanied by a meal that is mostly unseasoned rice which makes up the bulk of the meal.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: charliesommers

                                Just to back you up: your use of "unseasoned rice" made me think of the obverse, "seasoned rice", and that made me shudder with disgust!