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Jul 8, 2012 11:19 PM

Vietnamese Anchovy Sauce - accidental acquisition of ...

Don't ask how I ended up with this stuff. Because I'm not actually sure ...

At any rate, I have it now, so ...

What can I do with it?

This isn't like the fish sauce I'm used to (I usually use Tiparos). It has kind of a gray sludge in it that separates out and floats at the top - the attached photo shows what it looks like when it's shaken up.

I've also attached a picture of the ingredient list. I'm sort of baffled how I ended up with this - near as I can think I must have read something that described this as exactly the WRONG type of fish sauce for my intended purposes (making daikon kimchee), so of course that's what I went out and bought.

Now I have a sad, lonely, withered little daikon, going a little soft, perhaps a bit past it's prime, and still no Korean fish sauce in sight - and then this stuff, with no idea what I'm supposed to do with it now.

So - any suggestions? I will ask that we avoid anything that requires esoteric, hard to find ingredients, beef, or seafood. Tofu would be great and chicken is pretty doable, and I might be able to manage pork (if pork in the form of a pork chop will do). Sorry, not big meat eaters here, plus I don't get out much so I'd like to stick to stuff I either already have or can get easily.

Thanks for any ideas.

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  1. If it smells like fermented anchovies and tastes surprisingly strong, it def not what you wanted to buy.
    I've had it added to a sauce with baked sauteed chicken pieces and rice noodles. The sauce was chicken drippings, some teriaki and a SMALL amount of your fish sauce. Heavily diluted, it's used.
    I think it's also call baga-oong and described as bung-set.
    It's late - and I'm pretty sure you'll get more info tomorrow. :-)

    1. Well I've tracked this down as well as I'm able and apparently, it's not used for cooking, but as a dipping sauce, or as an ingredient in dipping sauces.

      That's rather beyond the limit of how adventuresome I'm willing to get, so I'm going to try to return it. Hopefully they'll let me trade it for what I was REALLY looking for (or should have been) - if I can figure out what that is.

      3 Replies
      1. re: KitchenBarbarian

        Sounds like you're after "aekjeot" aka "jeotgal", Korean style fish sauce.
        I think the more common Vietnamese nouc mam or Thai "Squid" brand fish sauce would work just as well.
        I also see this brand often....
        haven't tried it to date.

        1. re: porker

          Yeah, I think you're right, but I couldn't find anything at the asian market that looked like the pictures I'd seen of the Korean style fish sauces - it might have been there, it was my first visit to that market and it was HUGE. And I had a long list of stuff I'd been looking for for months.

          But since then I've seen on Maangchi's site that she recommends 3 crabs fish sauce for this kind of stuff (kimchee) and I did see that at several places, so I know I can get that.

          It's just that on the page with the particular recipe, some guy had posted about not using anything but real authentic Korean fish sauce because it has important stuff in it that your kimchee will not ferment properly without, so (according to him) your kimchee will ROT if you don' t use The Right Stuff.

          I can't ask the blog owner as the site hasn't been updated in like 5 years now. Actually, now that I look more closely, she did post an answer to similar question (can I use thai or vietnamese fish sauce) and said she didn't know.

          The recipe is here:

          Oh well, you can't use what you can't find. If 3 crabs is good enough for maangchi, it ought to be good enough, hopefully.

          1. re: KitchenBarbarian

            Without seeing the site, me thinks the poster is being more nationalistic than realistic. Kinda like saying you gotta use *French* burgundy for your beef bourgignon; sure its traditional, but other (not all) wines will work just as well.

            Let us know how the kimchee comes out!

      2. I'm Vietnamese. We use it as a base for a dipping sauce for ca nuong, or baked catfish spring rolls.

        You want to mix it with crushed pineapples (from a can works great). About one bottle for a 20oz can of pineapples. Again, crushed. You can add in the juice from the can to make it sweeter. Add in lime juice, sugar and chilies to your liking... as a Vietnamese I don't know of any other way I've seen the anchovy sauce used.

        Be aware, this anchovy sauce and traditional fish sauce is VERY, VERY different.

        1 Reply
        1. re: darrentran87

          Thanks for confirming that - that's pretty much what I finally figured out. Once I took the "dac biet" off the phrase on the label "mam nem dac biet" (excuse the missing accent marks and what not, too tired to try to find the unicodes for them) - anyway once I dropped those last 2 words (which apparently means something like "special") I got hits on the first part "mam nem" - which showed me various recipes for making dipping sauce involving the pineapple and whatnot as you describe.

          Obviously very very wrong for my intended purpose, LOL!