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May 12, 2014 10:15 PM

Best Fish Sauce

I am completely clueless about fish sauce. I want to try a recipe for Shaking Beef and it calls for fish sauce. What brand should I purchase? I want to make sure it is non-GMO.

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    1. I'm a fan of Tiparos, and Red Boat's products.

      I preferentially use Tiparos as an ingredient where it's being used in a flavour blend, and Red Boat for any application where it's being used as a dominant note or stand alone. Tiparos tastes slightly weaker/blander to me, but is vastly cheaper than Red Boat.

      Both of these are products that contain water, anchovy, salt and sugar. While neither is explicitly labelled GMO free, there are no GMO anchovies that I'm aware of.

      EDIT: I've also used Megachef, which is strongly linked with David Thompson (of Nahm Bangkok, and the almost religiously-followed (for very good reason) Thai Food/Thai Street Food books). It's very good sauce, but not as good as Red Boat, IMO - this is splitting hairs.

      1. My short answer is: any brand of sauce will do for this dish.

        But, to fend off those who think I am cavalier about ingredients, I'll say I've tried many fish sauces and, as with soy sauces, I find that I like to keep two or three types around.

        Red Boat is the richest, fullest, roundest sauce I've had. It is, however, sometimes a little "darker" (like in a molasses direction relative to refined white sugar) than I want for certain preparations.

        For a dipping sauce, I like Three Crabs. It's lighter and brighter and my preference for uncooked preparations.

        I also try various other sauces. IMO: when you have a cooked preparation involving a tablespoon or two of the stuff, brand is not important. Avoid any unaccountably cheap bottling, and you'll be fine.

        1. Sugar is the ingredient I am worried about. Cane sugar is fine, beet sugar (most sugar) is not. I think, though, if the sauce is made in another country it is far safer to assume there are no GMOs, as compared to being made in THIS country, where unless it specifically says, "organic", "non-GMO" or "cane sugar" it is assuredly GMO.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chezron

            If purity is your concern: Red Boat might suit you best. Just anchovies and salt. I think all major brands have at least a bit of sugar.


          2. Ming Tsai harped endlessly on Three Crab fish sauce being the best on his old show East Meets West, so that's what I use and haven't bothered trying anything else.