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Your Preferred Fish Sauce?

racer x Feb 27, 2011 05:39 PM

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. ipsedixit RE: racer x Feb 27, 2011 05:54 PM

    Golden Boy, then Tra Chang is a close second.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit
      cheesemaestro RE: ipsedixit Feb 27, 2011 06:35 PM

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

    2. t
      tofuwillowlithe RE: racer x Feb 27, 2011 05:57 PM

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

      5 Replies
      1. re: tofuwillowlithe
        ipsedixit RE: tofuwillowlithe Feb 27, 2011 06:34 PM

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

        1. re: tofuwillowlithe
          JungMann RE: tofuwillowlithe Feb 27, 2011 07:42 PM

          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
            tofuwillowlithe RE: JungMann Feb 27, 2011 08:44 PM

            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
            alanbarnes RE: tofuwillowlithe Feb 28, 2011 03:47 PM

            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
              reatard RE: alanbarnes Mar 1, 2011 07:22 AM

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

          3. hill food RE: racer x Feb 27, 2011 06:22 PM

            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. King of Northern Blvd RE: racer x Feb 27, 2011 08:24 PM

              I currently have Squid Brand but I also like Tiparos.

              2 Replies
              1. re: King of Northern Blvd
                Breezychow RE: King of Northern Blvd Feb 28, 2011 03:53 PM

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

                1. re: Breezychow
                  Val RE: Breezychow Mar 1, 2011 02:56 AM

                  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. C. Hamster RE: racer x Feb 28, 2011 06:12 AM

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

                1. greygarious RE: racer x Feb 28, 2011 08:32 AM

                  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. Miss Needle RE: racer x Feb 28, 2011 02:17 PM

                    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. FoodFuser RE: racer x Feb 28, 2011 03:03 PM

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


                      Reviewed and available here:


                      1. r
                        racer x RE: racer x Feb 28, 2011 04:09 PM

                        I notice that no one has mentioned Lucky brand.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: racer x
                          paulj RE: racer x Mar 15, 2011 09:55 PM

                          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. b
                          BKK Brendan RE: racer x Feb 28, 2011 04:41 PM

                          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. Pzz RE: racer x Mar 15, 2011 08:31 PM

                            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:


                            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
                              Sam Salmon RE: Pzz Mar 15, 2011 10:02 PM

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

                            2. n
                              nattythecook RE: racer x Oct 16, 2011 04:54 PM

                              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
                                Sam Salmon RE: nattythecook Oct 17, 2011 06:52 PM

                                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.

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