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Your Preferred Fish Sauce?

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What's your favorite fish sauce (eg for Thai dishes)?
And are there brands that you especially do not like?

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  1. Golden Boy, then Tra Chang is a close second.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      +1 for both. I avoid Three Crabs because it contains hydrolyzed wheat protein, which isn't an ingredient in other quality brands.

    2. Three Crabs! it costs $6 but it's well worth it.

      5 Replies
      1. re: tofuwillowlithe

        The problem with Three Crabs is that it is not naturally fermented fish sauce but is, rather, a flavor-enhanced sauce.

        1. re: tofuwillowlithe

          I switched to Three Crabs because so many hounds praise it, but it's just too subtle for my palate. I can see the mellowness as an asset in dipping sauces, but for all around cooking, I find myself returning to the Tiparos camp.

          1. re: JungMann

            That's why I bought it too, I did my research here before going shopping. My local Viet market had none of the other high end brands. It's way better than 'fat baby' brand i used to use. But I did not know it had hydrolyzed wheat protein and was flavour enhanced. Strange how it can be flavour enhanced yet someone else finds it too mild.
            Of course, it takes a year or more to go through a bottle. I'll keep my eyes open for the other brands mentioned.

          2. re: tofuwillowlithe

            As noted above, Three Crabs isn't a naturally fermented fish sauce, but contains hydrolyzed wheat protein - that is, wheat protein that has been broken down into its constituent amino acids, including about 25% free glutamate. It was the original source for MSG.

            Now I'm not phobic about MSG, but IMO fish sauce is about flavor **and** umami. To me, Three Crabs lacks the former, even though it has plenty of glutamate punch. (OTOH, some folks like Tiparos, which is just too pungent for my taste. So personal taste definitely plays a role.)

            I switched from Squid to Golden Boy a while back and haven't regretted it. Good stuff.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              I moved from Squid to Golden Boy and now I'm onto Tra Chang. It packs much more of a punch.

          3. I have come around to using fish sauce in the last 10 years and while I love it, I don't think I have the palate to judge one over the other, what are the qualities one looks for? I mean the smell is so different from the resulting flavor. I'm willing to do the trial and error route but frankly I don't distinguish much other than one is a little fishier/saltier than the other and the in the end the food is very similar. (but then I have been choice-challenged in recent years)

            once every 4-6 weeks I am able to get to a market that has a ridonkulous variety, so I'm making a list.

            1. I currently have Squid Brand but I also like Tiparos.

              2 Replies
              1. re: King of Northern Blvd

                Another vote for Squid brand. It's flavorful without being overpowering, thus is good for both cooking & dipping sauce purposes.

                1. re: Breezychow

                  Squid brand is what I have too...last bottle I bought was so tiny but I don't use it that often, so I liked buying that little bottle of it.

              2. Tiparos then Squid, then Three Crabs and Golden Boy. Tiparos seems the most aggressive to me and I like that.

                1. There are many fish sauce threads. This one http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/749330 discusses the comparative sodium levels in a list of the most popular brands.

                  1. My favorite is Squid, then Golden Boy then Tipparos (which is the one I grew up on). I once got Cock because of the name, but wasn't crazy about it. And while a lot of my family members use Three Crabs, it's a bit too sweet for my taste.

                    1. Do a Google for this string: "thailand fish sauce island" to find out Phu Quoc, a brand that I prefer.

                      http://www.google.com/search?client=f...

                      Reviewed and available here:

                      http://www.amazon.com/Phu-Island-Viet...

                      1. I notice that no one has mentioned Lucky brand.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: racer x

                          Lucky was the first brand I tried, and one I've come back to. It's one that I would recommend to a first time user, since it seems to be less pungent than others.

                        2. You can't beat the un-labeled stuff you find at the street vendors in Thailand. The closest thing I've found is Tiparos brand fish sauce. Tiparos is definitely my favorite store brand. It also has the least amount of sodium per serving of all the major brands, so that helps my decision as well.

                          1. Generally, the Vietnamese tend to prefer - and produce - somewhat milder, more delicate fish sauce. They use the stronger (usually less expensive) styles for cooking and reserve the more subtle (more expensive) brands for dipping sauces or table use. The best is reportedly from Phu Quoc island. Warning: I recently bought a bottle of "Phu Quoc" fish sauce and the label said it was made in Thailand. Apparently the genuine Phu Quoc made fish sauce can be difficult to find in the USA and some manufacturers are using that island's name rather liberally. Here's a link to Amazon, where they're selling "Red Boat" fish sauce that they specify as being made on Pho Quoc Island:

                            http://www.amazon.com/Red-Boat-Virgin...

                            Thai fish sauce tends to be more assertive, and the stuff from the Phillipines yet again stronger. I find that most of them are pretty good and tend to use the Thai brands more for "assertive" stir fry recipes while leaning on the Vietnamese style sauces for more delicate dishes.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Pzz

                              Golden Boy but I can be persuaded to try others-Thanks to everyone for the input.

                            2. My favorite fish sauce has no brand, my mother made it. She uses one of the gigantic earthen containers to make it. She would let it sit for a year before filtering and bottling it from personal use and as gifts.

                              Commercial fish sauce can have more than just natural ingredients. And there are the equivalent of second, third ....pressings like olive oil. The first press is the best. Then after that, other things get added to enhance flavor.

                              Many Thais think Tra chang or Scale Brand is a premium product.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: nattythecook

                                There have been demonstrations in Canada by people from SE Asia protesting the sale of what they claim are adulterated fish sauces-I always choose carefully.