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Fish Sauce Problem

Bought a few fish sauces recently - just opened one of the cloudier ones - a viet sauce Sai Gon brand Mam Nem (fish, salt, water). Can't find a pic online. Anyhow, when I just opened it, it spewed all over me and the countertop while I was talking on the phone.....like opening a shaken up coke. Can't do the smell test because, hey, it's fish sauce. I cannot find any compelling reason to not throw it out, unless someone replies "hey, that's normal." If it is still fermenting in the bottle, there's a problem I'm sure.

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  1. I'm not a fish sauce expert, but I've used many brands and I've never had that happen. Doesn't sound good at all, sounds like a problem with the seal on the bottle.

    1. Oh, what a horrible mess!! I vote for pitching it.

      1. Get rid of it. There may be a risk of botulism -- and besides, fish sauce is cheap.

        1. Use it and report back. If we don't hear from you by this time tomorrow we will assume the worst.

          9 Replies
          1. re: jpc8015

            Ha! I laughed out loud jpc. My posts must be pretty bad if the CH community wants to off me! ;-)

            It's a goner. It was still bubbling at the top and there was a grey foam. I have been known to steal perfectly good leftover pizza on tables at restaurants, and have eaten questionable meat at home, but I'm not chancing it with this stuff.

            1. re: rudeboy

              Hi RubeB-

              Agree with not using it.

              Botuli are not easy on the GI system.

              Before I threw it in the trash, I would take it back to the store and inform the manager. I'm sure they would want to know about this problem from a valued customer.

              And I would get another fish sauce brand, which I think the manager should provide to you, as a replacement.

              1. re: SWISSAIRE

                SWISSAIRE - I will call them. That's a good idea and I didn't think of it. Mostly to let them know that they might have a bad batch.

              2. re: rudeboy

                Here's a pic - the grey foam at the top will one day be a featured condiment at some very high-end pan-asian sushi restaurant. Zoom in for full effect.

                1. re: rudeboy

                  Nice picture. Well I'm not taking any chances, I'm going to buy a case right now before they run out !

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      that is the foulest-looking thing i may have ever seen in a bottle! good thing you are not using it.

                2. While I agree that Your Mắm Nêm has gone by(it should not be bubbling!) it is quite different than Fish Sauce.
                  It is much more funky and pungent than Nước Mắm. It is used with Pineapple to make a very famous and delicious Vietnamese dipping Sauce

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: chefj

                    Thanks chefj, I wanted a mam nem specifically because there are some soups that I want to explore. Wiki has the dipping sauce referenced via mam nem, and it is called mắm nêm pha sẵn. I looked that up, and all the pages are in vietnamese. I'll have to translate them and see what the "spices" are that are referenced on the wikipedia site.

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      Mắm nêm should be stored in the refrigerator. It's not filtered like fish sauce so it retains a lot more of the fishy bits that would spoil without refrigeration. I think more accurately, if I had to describe it in English, I'd call it fish paste or fermented anchovy.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        So how would one tell if it had gone bad? I'm afraid it would be tricky for anyone like myself who didn't know what it was supposed to smell like to begin with. Or is there some other sign?

                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                          Sounds kind of funny to say, Mrs. Rat, but for as fishy and funky and odiferous as it is, it doesn't smell like, um, rotting. Not sure how to explain it!

                          I'll let everyone know before I eat it, and then y'all can send people out to fetch my carcass.

                      2. re: rudeboy

                        The Recipe I have use is Just Pineapple, Mắm Nêm, Garlic, Lime and Sugar(if needed to balance).
                        If you do find other spices that are used , do tell.

                    2. Mam nem is super fish sauce, actually a thin anchovy puree. It keeps fermenting in the bottle (a big reason it is so tasty), hence the fizz, and needs to be kept in the fridge. I keep it around and use it mostly on non-Asian pasta dishes and in stews and braises. It does the same thing as tossing in a couple chopped anchovy fillets, adding a subtle richness (umami!) to dishes. Much easier to handle than anchovies, though. No problem handling mam nem as long as you remove the lid carefully every time. Probably best done in the sink.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: emu48

                        Well, good to know that the fizziness is on purpose. I even shook it up before opening. It boiled over like a can of coke would after shaking. It is in the fridge. Calling the market didn't help because of the language gap. I think that I exacerbated the situation.

                        emu48, if it has been out all night, do you think that it is safe to put in the fridge now and then use it?

                      2. My sympathies, that has to stink like all hell.