Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Recommended Posts

I really like fish sauce. I want the best bottle of the stuff that money can buy. I've no idea what the best fish sauce would be like, I'm just curious to taste it and see how it differs from what I normally taste. Like when you are used to a certain quality of olive oil and then one day somebody gives you a teaspoon of this fabulous spanish stuff and your whole idea of olive oil changes. People say three crabs brand is good. It still only costs ten bucks for a liter. Can't be the best. It's too cheap. How can fish sauce be so cheap anyway? Some brands that people say are pretty good only cost five bucks for a liter.

Two and a half questions:

1. Why is fish sauce so cheap considering all the trouble it takes to make it and then the round the world shipping?

2. Is it possible to spend, say, fifty bucks for a precious little bottle of the really good stuff and if so where can I go and do that?

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The two towns said to produce the best fish sauce are Phu Quoc and Phan Thiet in Vietnam
from this article:

Sauce Cafe.com

Hope this helps a little, ned! :wink:

and then this:

My favorite brands from among those available near my home in California, are Tra Chang (meaning "weighing scale") and Golden Boy. Reasonably good are the King Crab, Squid and Anchovy brands. Three Crabs Brand is not recommended. Taste several brands and choose your own favorite. 

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really like fish sauce.  I want the best bottle of the stuff that money can buy.  I've no idea what the best fish sauce would be like, I'm just curious to taste it and see how it differs from what I normally taste.  Like when you are used to a certain quality of olive oil and then one day somebody gives you a teaspoon of this fabulous spanish stuff and your whole idea of olive oil changes.  People say three crabs brand is good.  It still only costs ten bucks for a liter.  Can't be the best.  It's too cheap.  How can fish sauce be so cheap anyway?  Some brands that people say are pretty good only cost five bucks for a liter. 

Ned, if you drank more wine, you'd know that the price of the bottle is not always a reflection of the quality within. :laugh:

Why don't you just go around to all the Asian markets in your area, buy every brand you can find, and taste them? Letting your palate, rather than your wallet guide you might be the better strategy.

Given the relatively limited demand for fermented fish guts, I don't think you're going to have to pay $50 to get top of the line stuff until some Vietnamese Emeril comes along to give Nuoc Mam the same elitist cachet top olive oils have. Don't worry, be happy. :laugh:

(In case you're wondering, I have a bottle of Three Crabs in the cupboard. The price tag has fallen off, but I can't believe it cost anywhere near ten bucks).

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have a clue why the stuff is so cheap. But, it is. That's the way it is. Growing up in Thailand, I can vouch for the fact that there is no "way expensive ultra" stuff. It is what it is.

I'm a Tiparos fan. I've tried them all, and go back to what every Thai cook I've ever known prefers.

Yes, buy every brand you can. Should edit that. Buy every brand you can that does not contain any sort of sugar.

And, pour some into some sort of small container with a lid, slice up some bird chilies (quite a lot, according to my taste). Put lid on it and pull it out whenever you are serving whatever that this would accompany well. Like my chicken soup tonight.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use tiparos as well, actually I use it because snowangel recommended it way back when... :wub:

I prefer its flavor to all the other I have tried.

You can sort of compare it to soy sauce in Japan, almost every person in Jaapn will have a bottle of Kikkoman in their house. Though there are various brands this is by far the one preferred and it is quite cheap.

There are artisanal brands but they aren't really what I would consider expensive and few people would use them as their everyday soy sauce.

I see cheap as a good thing, especially if it tastes great. :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Australia, Squid brand from Thailand is popular and ubiquitous.

However, anything that says "Phuoc Luoc" exact spelling I will check, is pretty good. It's the Bordeaux of fish sauce areas in Vietnam. My wife and her parents swear by it as the cook's choice. To be used as condiment only, not to cook with as the flavour is like wow.

I don't see it myself, but there you go, my 2 cents worth.

And ned, like, you don't need to spend. Its wiser not to.

Really.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never seen fish sauce at $10, or even $5 a liter. At the all of the Asian groceries around here it sells for at most $2.50 a liter, most are like $1.50.

I am not sure what brand I have now, I can't remember the name, but the wrapper is yellow, and the logo is a red circle inside of a blue one I believe, I am happy with it, it is a lot better than the 'Ka-Me' brand crap I had bought at the regular grocery store before.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...
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.

My dad told me that Unilever is actually trying to protect the reputation of Phu Quoc and they worked out a deal where they would provide the equipment in exchange for a Knorr logo on each bottle. Supposedly the process is the same and Unilever has no say in changing the recipe or diversifying the product.

He also said that there were too many producers of fish sauce who would just put Phu Quoc on the label hoping people will buy the name. We checked our cupboard and found 3 different brands claiming to come from Phu Quoc :)

He's a reporter for Nguoi Viet Daily News but I don't know if it was his research or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, I just checked my fridge to see what brand I've been using and discovered that (horrors!!!) I used up my last bottle.

Soooo... what's the definitive if I want to buy a good brand of Thai OR Vietnamese clear fish sauce? I don't like Tiparos, which mostly comes bottled in plastic here (which I think does something to the flavor or keeping abilities). I've used Squid brand and Three Crabs brand. What other brands are reliable and exported to the USA? I have access to at least a dozen brands in the Asian markets here.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find that the Squid brand settles some residue after a few months in the cupboard. Three Crabs do not, maybe that's an indication that it's "brewed" rather than mixed. I do notice that Squid Brand has msg listed as an ingredient, whereas Three Crabs don't. Like soy sauces, the real good stuff do not settle out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I was chatting with a bahn mi technician the other day. It happened to be right around lunch time. We got to talking about fish sauce. He said a few valuable things. The order in which the fish sauce comes out of the vats or pools or whatever is of importance. Apparently the first layer--the bottom layer--is most prized and is indicated on bottles by the number one. I think I understood my new friend to say (my Vietnamese is EXTREMELY limited and the technician spoke with a heavy accent) that these bottles seldom make it to the states. The ratings go from one to ten.

Now as regards pricing. . . well sometime people don't get my humor and I guess that's my fault. The fact is that quality and price are often in direct proportion. Sometimes they aren't. In moments of ignorance, human beings will almost always assume that the thing with the bigger price tag is better. On the averages they'd be right. I have no interest whatsoever in paying a penny more for anything than is necessary. If the best artisinal fish sauce company would pay me to take one of their bottles, I'd jump to it.

As it is, I only know about fish sauce what I have the opportunity to taste and discover on the shelves of the grocery stores that I blunder into. It occurred to me one morning as I ate my Wheaties that maybe in Thailand and Vietnam and wherever else they produce the stuff, fish sauce is like balsamic vinegar. That there are gallons and gallons of it made for everyday use but there is also a grade--like balsamico--so precious, so delicious so rare that people are willing to pay a few more bucks for it. Until I went to Italy I didn't know for example that there is 100 year aged balsamic vinegar that people drink straight. I want to taste that. And I want to taste its equivalent in the realm of fish sauce if indeed it exists.

As we moved into talking about the differences in Maggis produced in different countries and I started to anticipate the immanent burn from fresh chilis on my sandwich, the technician wrote me the name of some fish sauce to look out for. Especially if the bottle that reads as he wrote on the note and has the number one on it. He assured me that the bottle would be small and the price tag big. Here's what he wrote:

gallery_14011_31_72771.jpg

Edited by ned (log)

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...