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torakris

Fish Sauce

37 posts in this topic

Are they substitutable for each other?

What are the differences?


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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I use them interchangeably. I beleive the Vietnamese stuff tends to be a bit stronger in flavor than the Thai and maybe a bit saltier but this also depends on the "draining" method used by the manufacturer for that particular brand. Both types are used in Laotian, Burmese, Filipino and Cambodian cooking as well.

Here's some articles on both:

http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/features/...fishsauce1.html

http://www.saucecafe.com/leftover_spicy/spicy39.html


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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that's a good question. i don't recall seeing many recipes that specify "thai" vs. "vietnamese." i use thai all of the time. but only because i'm married to the brand "three crabs" (because ming uses it).

i'd be interested in knowing if there is an actualy difference. my vietnamese dipping sauce always turns out different than the stuff at vietnamese restaurants. perhaps that's part of it.

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From my limited comparisons, Thai fish sauce is nicer.

More refined and less sweet. I've probably been influenced by thai cooking teachers though...

I'm married to squid brand.


How sad; a house full of condiments and no food.

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The vietnamese sauce nuoc mam is usually darker and fishier than the Thai sauce nam pla. I've heard the Burmese fish sauce is even stronger, but haven't tried it.


-- lamington a.k.a. Duncan Markham

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - collaborative book reviews about all things food and wine

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The reason I was asking is because I usually see recipes calling for either on or the other and it never says to substitute the other though occasionally it will say to substitute either more salt or soy sauce.

Are the cookbook authors just assuming if you don't have one type then you must not have the other one either?

I always use the Tiparos brand and was jsut wondering if it was worth it to buy a Vietnamese one as well.


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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torakris,

Why not pick up a good Vietnamese brand & do a taste test?

I taste tested Thai & Vietnamese fish sauce & found definite differences.

I'd be interested to see what you think.

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I guess that would be the easiest wouldn't it? :blink:


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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I have grown to love Squid brand in anything hot with seafood. It does seem to add that depth that you appreciate, but don't know where it comes from unless you do the cooking. While I love to cook with this stuff, I'm still not ready to "do shots" of it for a comparison test. How would you propose to do the test? Perhaps break your next use of it into camps?

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While I love to cook with this stuff, I'm still not ready to "do shots" of it for a comparison test. How would you propose to do the test? Perhaps break your next use of it into camps?

I'm quite serious about the "shots" form of taste-testing fish sauces.

Not easy to prove here on the boards but I'll do what I can, if necessary.

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Anyone know anything about "unrefined" fish sauce. It's used in recipes in an article in the June Saveur on Thai food, in addition to regular fish sauce. I've never seen unrefined...what is it? :unsure:

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Anyone know anything about "unrefined" fish sauce.  . . .  what is it?

It has pieces o' fish in it! :cool:

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Anyone know anything about "unrefined" fish sauce. It's used in recipes in an article in the June Saveur on Thai food, in addition to regular fish sauce.  I've never seen unrefined...what is it?  :unsure:

I think by "unrefined" they were refering to what we called Pla Ra, not Nam Pla (Fish Sauce). Pla Ra is what you get when you mix small fish with lots and lots of salt and let them rot. The resulting product looks a bit muddy, with broken pieces of fish in it. Pla Ra is used in North-eastern food. Bangkokians look down our noses at it as positively stinky peasant food. :-) I have grown to like a couple of dishes made with Pla Ra, but they are cooked and dressed up so much they are mostly unrecognizable from the original form. I think it's a case of "you can take a girl out of Bangkok, but....) Pardon my ignorance. :-)

Nam Pla is made in much the same way, except that it is refined before bottling.

Of course my bias is for Thai Fish Sauce. I use Tiparos, becuase that's what my family used when I was growing up. You just don't change your fish sauce brand---that would be downright sacrilegious!


chez pim

not an arbiter of taste

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Fish Sauce Information:

Find a lengthy article here: Fragrant fish and shrimp sauces add pungent punch to Asian cuisine

"Fish sauce is to Vietnamese cooking what salt is to Western and soy

sauce to Chinese cooking. It is included in practically all recipes.

Prepared from fresh anchovies and salt, layered in huge wooden

barrels, the manufacture of fish sauce is a major industry. The

factories are located along the coast to assure the freshness of the

fish to be processed. Fermentation is started once a year, during the

fishing season. After about 3 months in the barrel, liquid drips from

an open spigot, to be poured back into the top of the barrel. After

about 6 months the fish sauce is produced.

The first draining is the very best fish sauce, lighter in color and

perfectly clear. [Kinda like "Extra Virgin" fish sauce. S.C.] It is

relatively expensive and is reserved for table use. The second and

third drainings yield a fish sauce of lower quality and lower cost

for general- purpose cooking. The two towns most noted for their

fish sauce are Phu Quoc and Phan Thiet. Phu Quoc produces the best

fish sauce, some of which is exported. On the label, the "nhi"

signifies the highest quality. When fish sauce manufactured in

Vietnam is not available, that of Thailand or Hong Kong is quite

acceptable. Philippine or Chinese fish sauce will not be

satisfactory. For table use and available in all Oriental groceries

is Squid Brand Fish Sauce, the best one on the market. Whatever

brand, look for the "Ca Com" on the label, which means that only

anchovies were used++an indication of the highest quality for table

use."

From "The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam", Bach Ngo and Gloria Zimmerman,

Barron's, 1979.

Posted by Stephen Ceideberg; February 2 1992.

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I'm a Squid brand user myself.

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I like all kinds, but I enjoy using Squid sprinkled on cottage cheese. What a great flavor enhancer!! :wub:

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nuoc_mam.jpgI'd like to resurrect this thread.

Correct me if I am wrong but...

1. Good Nuoc Mam should read on the label "nhi" or "thuong hang" to denote a high quality, specifically that it is the first "pressing" from the anchovies.

2. For Vietnamese nuoc mam, the label should also read either "Phu Quoc" or "Phan Thiet" which denote it is from one of these two famous nuoc mam producing regions of Vietnam.

3. It should say "25% dam" meaning it contains 25% fish sauce, since poorer brands are usually only 20%.

4. The ingredients should list "ca com" which is a specific breed of anchovies prized for their use in high quality fish sauce, lower quality sauces using a more common anchovy.

So if I am right on all of these, here is my question... I recently switched to Royal Crab Brand nuoc mam as it meets all the above criteria, however, it is a product of Thailand. How can it be from Phu Quoc and be a Thai product? Or was it produced in Vietnam but bottled and exported from Thailand?

(Edit to add pic.)


Edited by itch22 (log)

-- Jason

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I'd like to resurrect this thread.

Correct me if I am wrong but...

1.  Good Nuoc Mam should read on the label "nhi" or "thuong hang" to denote a high quality, specifically that it is the first "pressing" from the anchovies.

2.  For Vietnamese nuoc mam, the label should also read either "Phu Quoc" or "Phan Thiet" which denote it is from one of these two famous nuoc mam producing regions of Vietnam.

3.  It should say "25% dam" meaning it contains 25% fish sauce, since poorer brands are usually only 20%.

4.  The ingredients should list "ca com" which is a specific breed of anchovies prized for their use in high quality fish sauce, lower quality sauces using a more common anchovy.

So if I am right on all of these, here is my question...  I recently switched to Royal Crab Brand nuoc mam as it meets all the above criteria, however, it is a product of Thailand.  How can it be from Phu Quoc and be a Thai product?  Or was it produced in Vietnam but bottled and exported from Thailand?

(Edit to add pic.)

I don't think so. My guess is that it is a Thai product that is trying to benefit from the reputation of the Phu Quoc region. Read this article in Time Asia for an explanation. I think they are trying to protect their place name, but it might be too late in the US.

regards,

trillium


Edited by trillium (log)

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Thai brands will usually stand on their own virtues.

The writing at the bottom of that bottle is Cambodian or Lao, not Thai.


For Bangkok eats, check out my Cheap Eats Bangkok

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I don't think so.  My guess is that it is a Thai product that is trying to benefit from the reputation of the Phu Quoc region.  Read this article in Time Asia for an explanation.  I think they are trying to protect their place name, but it might be too late in the US.

regards,

trillium

Yes, I think you are right. I was asking around and a Vietnamese friend's parents told me it is a knock off.


-- Jason

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I have both nuoc-mam and nam pla sauces at home. For nuoc-mam I use Hung Thanh which is siêu hang (superior quality), based on ca com. It is dark, strong and salty. For nam pla I just use Tiparos. I think Thai fish sauces in general are more delicate, less salty and more fragrant than nuoc-mam, however I use the latter in Vietnamese dishes and the former in Thai dishes. I never cross them.

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Phu Quoc Fish Sauce is now a registered trademark. It was registered fairly recently to protect the industry on the island and to fight Thai producers nicking the island's name for their bottle labels.

The Unilever owned Knorr brand started producing their own Phu Quoc fish sauce on the island a year ago. 17 local producers sell a proportion of their sauce to Unilever who bottle it on the island. Some local brand names, maybe all these 17 producers??, will no doubt have fallen by the wayside since Knorr arrived, but I could be wrong on that. I still buy a non-Knorr brand of Phu Quoc nuoc mam here in Saigon.

Unilever were planning to build a decent fish sauce museum, visitor's centre or something. Not sure if they have as yet, but I'll be back there soon and will check it out if it exists.

In the long term I'm not convinced that the snazzy local TV marketing campaigns of a company like Unilever is an altogether good thing for fish sauce variety on Phu Quoc. I imagine the smaller producers who are still around will eventually be priced out of the business. I'm no expert, but I reckon, even on Phu Quoc, there's a discernible taste difference between different producers. A difference I might not be able to notice, but something a lifelong user would know about and it's a difference that could be lost with any future Knorr monopoly.

pieman

Noodlepie

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I use Tiparos fish sauce, which I much prefer, recommended to me by snowangel. My SIL gave me a bottle of Lucky :blink: brand, which is also produced in Thailand, but it seems sweeter and not as rich. I don't like it as well as the Tiparo.

May find something to use it for. Maybe good plant food? :wink:


Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

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I use Tiparos fish sauce, which I much prefer, recommended to me by snowangel. My SIL gave me a bottle of Lucky :blink: brand, which is also produced in Thailand, but it seems sweeter and not as rich. I don't like it as well as the Tiparo.

May find something to use it for. Maybe good plant food? :wink:

I tried Lucky Brand once and didn't like it. This may be interesting to note, a local Philipine grocer says Lucky Brand is his best seller (compared to Squid Brand), but a local Vietnamese grocer refuses to carry it and he carries more brands of fish sauce than you can shake an anchovie at.


-- Jason

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