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Fish sauce - love it or loathe it?

I am firmly in the “love” category. I oftentimes use it as an alternative to soy sauce in various recipes, and while the smell can be initially overwhelming, the flavors tend to mellow upon cooking. And what would pho be without it?

Tiparos is my brand of choice, and readily available, from Spokane to Thailand.

How about you?


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  1. On my cooking counter right next to the sriracha. Don't use salt or soy (soy is not even in my house). My faeve brand is Three Crabs.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Quine

      Three Crabs is a very fine choice. And sriracha! Oh, the rapture of that slightly sweet and spicy chile sauce. Can we agree that the Huy Fong brand ("rooster sauce") is the best? Any kitchen worth it's salt should have a bottle.

      1. re: SpokaneFoodLover

        We can. What I find amazing about sriracha is that only a few drops in a dish can be tasted, the flavors really open up.

    2. What's not to love? To me it's one of those dependable ingredients one can turn to when looking to add a bit of flavor to an otherwise mild dish. I use it as often as I use stock.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ediblover

        Ediblover, that is a really good point. Why, just two nights ago I made some lentil stew and just felt it was missing that savory taste. A few drops of fish sauce later, and it really brought the dish together.

        Quine - I use sriracha like I used ketchup as a child. In fact, a little over a year ago a friend had a hot dog party, with dogs of many varieties. The concensus was that the Vietnamese inspired hot dog, with sriracha, fish sauce, culantro, and lime juice, was the best. Sounds strange, but it really works well.

      2. Love it. It is one of my go-to condiments/ingredient.

        1. Love it. Three Crabs for a more pungent flavor, Tiparos otherwise.

          I use it for broths, sauces, dressings, and in kimchi in lieu of brined shrimp. And there is no pho without it! :)

            1. Three crabs is next to the soy in the kitchen. I don't use sriracha much. I like the Huy Fong chili garlic paste much more. It is similar to Huy Fong sriracha, but chunky, and not as sweet since it doesn't have sugar, which the sriracha does. Basically it is the sriracha before they grind it fine and add sugar. I highly recommend it for sriracha lovers who want a cleaner taste.

              3 Replies
              1. re: JMF

                +1 for the Huy Fong chili garlic, but their sriracha will always have a special place in my heart. :)

                1. re: JMF

                  Have both in the fridge, and they definitely serve different purposes. Love 'em equally!

                2. How about like it? I am a fan of salty-fishy things in general, always having worcestershire, anchovies, and fish sauce on hand. However, I do not find myself reaching for the fish sauce very often -- I certainly didn't grow up using it (Californian/Jewish upbringing), so it's relatively new to my pantry. So far I've only used it in traditional applications, i.e. whenever I'm making Vietnamese braises or nuoc cham for my spring rolls. Perhaps it's time to get a little more adventurous!

                  1. Love it. Doesn't mean I use it all over the place, however.

                    Three Crabs is the "standard" brand for me, Flying Lion the better brand.
                    Tiparos brand is Thai, so I see from a quick Google search. I can't say I've consciously noted/seen it (I'm sure it's there in many stores) and obviously have never used it.

                    1. love it,can't imagine the pantry without fish sauce or anchovies

                      1. Love it. I rarely use soy sauce and don't use much sriracha (overhyped, IMO, like Tabasco used to be). I don't like Tabasco either, too much vinegar and generic hot flavor, although the jalapeno and chipotle varieties aren't too bad.

                        Who was it here that called sriracha "hipster ketchup"? I stil laugh out loud when I think of it.

                        1. How could one live without
                          the deep fermented extract
                          that comes from the 'chovies
                          that are culled from the sea?

                          It goes back way deep
                          to both Romans and Greeks
                          who traded in sauce they called garum.

                          Even longer in history
                          were ocean based Asians.

                          Making fish sauce is a damn sloppy process
                          where anchovies are scraped to pits and then salted
                          and fully fermented till they seep from their guts.

                          But for many millenia it has offered its essence.

                          1. Love. Three Crabs is in my cupboard (Rooster Sriracha too.) Glad this thread came up - like Operagirl above, I have been fairly uncreative in my uses of fish sauce. plan to remedy that post haste.

                            1. I'm not sure that I would use it as a dipping sauce but it is a necessary ingredient when cooking SE Asian cuisines that I love.

                              I prefer 3 Crabs fish sauce.

                              1. What's not to love?

                                Used in its place, and properly, it can make the difference between good and great.

                                Golden Boy is my top choice, then Tra Chang is a close second.

                                1. Love, adoration, amazement, hapiness...shall I go on? I really use it all the time. Love it. 3 Crabs here.

                                  1. Love it. Always have a big bottle in the fridge, the one with the big ol' squid on the label. Hate it when it drips on my hands though :-).

                                    My favourite cheat with it is to use it in a fake Caesar salad dressing in place of anchovies. Well yummy.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: grayelf

                                      Didn't think of that. Thanks for the idea.

                                    2. Neither love or loathe. I like it as an ingredient, in Nuoc Cham for example.
                                      By itself that undercurrent of something rotten always sets off my gag reflex.

                                      1. I like it and use it, but by itself it always reminds me of the smell from a cat litter box.

                                        1. Indispensable - adds a depth of flavor to curries and stir-fries when one cooks Thai, Chinese, etc.

                                          1. Love it in a freshly made dish -- not as much the next day in the leftovers. It seems to get fishier?