Red Boat fish sauce - any good?
Saw that a local Whole Foods is selling Red Boat fish sauce.. supposedly, its a premium brand, frp, a company HQ'd in LA. But of course it has a premium price. Anyone tasted it? I generally make sure to buy fish sauce with only the original ingredients, not the garbage cheaper brands add in.. so anyone had this, and is it noticeably better than 3 Crabs or Golden Boy?
Talk about serendipity. I just used Red Boat tonight for the first time, tossing out a bottle of Golden Boy in the process. I can give Red Boat an unreserved endorsement. It was priced at $7.99 for the 500mL size at a local Asian market to give you a reference point.
Just lifting the caps on the two, Red Boat has almost a sweet smell of the sea to it, while Golden Boy smells reminiscent of armpits in comparison (excuse the indelicacy). Color me a satisfied customer.
I don't think as little of Golden Boy as Relish does, but yes, I think Red Boat is not only noticeably but significantly better than any mass market brand I've had over the years. Direct purchase price is $10 and I think it's worth that, arguably a bit more in fact. (Beware, though, I've seen it at seriously inflated prices too.) Like Relish, I found it cheaper at a Vietnamese grocery store where I hope they sell enough to keep it in stock!
Btw, fyi, the last time I looked at it, 3 Crabs had both sugar/fructose and hydrolized wheat protein among other things - definitely not additive free!
We've been using it since Christmas and while neither Mr. Rat nor myself are experts, we do like it. We've used different brands, but we were mostly using Three Crabs before - and Red Boat does seem more intensely fishy.
I have taken some time to delve into the whole fish sauce thing, especially since I found Red Boat early on and in reading their promo stuff, it sounded very artisanal, which made me wonder about other products. It is, in fact, the only unadulterated fish sauce coming from Phu Quoc to the states, that is 100% from the island, with no added sugar, water or other adulterations. I have found it has a distinct and powerful umami, sweet and salty profile.
I have used it in everything from basic dipping sauce to things such as beef stew, chili and BBQ injections and it is easily worth the price if what you are chasing is increasing flavor complexity.
in a word: yes. In many words: I have always left fish sauce out of recipes I make, as I find it's not just fishy, but rottenfishy. The smell, the taste were not good to me. Red Boat has changed that. A local specialty retailer carries it, and it's a good, clean, fishy flavor without the "off-ness" of cheaper fish sauce, and my larb has gone from good to awesome!