Thai Fish Sauce Taste Test
I have recently done a taste test on seven Thai brands of fish sauce that, according to a private poll, are the easiest to find in the United States. Though there are many other brands in the US market, were going to focus on these Thai brands. This is because they are made specifically for Thai food, and Thai food is what this blog covers well, most of the time. Ill write about the non-Thai brands, which are intentionally excluded, in the sequel to this post.
The top tier
Golden Boy Ingredients: Anchovy, salt, sugar
Ingredients: Water, anchovy extract, salt, sugarPurchase price: $.28/milliliter
Ingredients: Anchovy, salt, sugarPurchase price: $.33/milliliter
These three are excellent in terms of taste and aroma. The flavor is complex and mellow salty with a caramel note with no weird aftertaste. You can detect the sweet, fishy perfume in your mouth when you take it, uh, neat.
With Tra Chang boasting one-year aging and Golden Boy being such a prominent brand, Im tempted to say they score a tad higher than Tiparos. But, honestly, the difference isnt noticeable to me. All of these are award-winning brands that are well known and widely used in Thailand.
The middle tier
ingredients: Anchovy extract, salt, sugarPurchase price: $.28/milliliter
Ingredients: Anchovy, salt, sugarPurchase price: $.59/milliliter
Hoisin Or Sweet Bean Sauce
Sweet bean sauce is a thick, dark brown sauce made from wheat flour, sugar, salt, and fermented yellow soybeans. As the name suggests, the sauce is a bit sweeter than other salty bean pastes. Some brands and recipes use the terms hoisin sauce and sweet bean sauce interchangeably, but, generally, commercial Hoisin sauces are thinner, lighter and sweeter than a traditional sweet bean sauce. There are also some brands of sauce are not made with any beans but just wheat starch which can also be confusing.
Sweet Bean sauce is a mainstay of northern Chinese regional cuisine like Beijing Zha Jiang Mian which should have a sauce with darker and thicker consistency. Hoisin Sauce is used more commonly in Cantonese style sauces used for restaurant dishes like Chinese BBQ Spareribs. Seasonings like garlic and chilies give hoisin sauce its unique sweet and savory flavor. In Beijing, its most famously used as a condiment for Peking duck. There are plenty of brands of Hoisin sauce out there, but this one by Lee Kum Kee is often the most readily available weve even spotted it in some non-Asian grocery stores!
Vegetable Moo Shu with Mandarin Pancakes is a great dish for you vegetarians or you can also try our Moo Shu Chicken. Either way, make the homemade moo shu pancakes to have with both and apply hoisin sauce liberally to the pancakes before adding the filling and wrapping it!
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Andrea Nguyen Author Of Vietnamese Food Any Day
Andrea Nguyen, who helped us with an in-depth fish sauce buying guide a few years back, considers fish sauce her secret weapon when any dish needs a little extra oomph. If Im making a pot of pozole and it just doesnt have quite the umami/savory depth that Im looking for, instead of reaching for salt Ill reach for my bottle of fish sauce and give a glug to the pot. Its even great in guacamole.
Nguyen admits to having roughly 12 different brands of fish sauce in her pantry. For a brand that fits in the middle of the quality vs. affordability matrix, she recommends Megachef from Vietnam. The blue labeled version, she says, is geared toward Vietnamese cooking, offering a sweeter flavor profile that is soft and undulating. The brown-labeled bottle, which can be trickier to find, is Megachefs formulation for Thai cooking. She describes it as a bit saltier and more intense, noting it can stand up to the gutsy, earthy flavors of Thai food.
As far as high-end options go, Nguyen is a fan Son Fish Sauce: The woman who makes it is 27 years old she is the 4th generation fish sauce maker, Andrea notes. This stuff has a very wonderful fragrance and great flavor. Its very umami-laden so I actually use like 20 to 30% less than I would with other fish sauces. Theres no sugar in it, and they just take it from the barrel and put it in the bottle. It is very pure and clean.
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What Stores Sell Fish Sauce
- Amazonâ Youâll be able to find a number of vegan fish sauce brands on Amazon, includingTofuna Fyshand24Vegan. This might be the best option if youâre not sure you can get vegan fish sauce in your area.
- Walmartâ Some Walmart stores stock vegan fish sauce in the condiment aisle.Check the store locator on Walmartâs website to see which stores carry it.
- Whole Foodsâ Look for fish sauce in the condiment aisle as well as in the international aisle at Whole Foods.
- Your Local Health Food Storeâ Any health food store will probably have vegan fish sauce in a vegan and vegetarian aisle or with sauces and condiments.
- Asian Marketsâ You should have luck finding vegan fish sauce in many Asian markets.
Broad Bean Paste Or Spicy Bean Paste
Red chili when salted or milled with broad beans produces a seriously tasty spicy bean paste that is the foundation of many great Chinese dishes . Theres a pretty large variety of chili bean pastes out there, made different by the addition of ingredients like minced garlic, preserved beans, beef, peanuts, chicken, almondsthe list goes on. Kinds sold at your average Asian grocery are typically made via a fermentation process and will be bright red or reddish-brown in color. Look for the Chinese characters or la douban jiang which means spicy bean paste and has the Chinese character for spicy, or la before the douban jiang.
Broad bean paste is the king of Chinese sauces in Sichuan cooking and can be eaten with food directly as a condiment, or used as a seasoning in various marinades. In China broad bean paste made in Guilin is most renowned, reputed as the Three Treasures of Guilin, along with Guilin pickled tofu and Guilin Sanhua Jiu .
We like to use Chengdu Jiuanfei Pixian Broad Bean Paste with Chili oil pictured on the left. It has a richer flavor and color than the Lee Kum Kee Chili Bean Sauce pictured on the right hopefully you can find either one at your local Asian grocery store.
The Mala Market is a great resource for authentic, premium Sichuan ingredients. They offer a Pixian Doubanjiang sourced and packaged for them in Sichuan, as well as a super premium 3-year aged Pixian Doubanjiang.
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Gluten Free Soy Sauce
Many of our readers have asked for gluten free recipes and we have done our best to develop and also point out our naturally gluten free recipes for those folks who have a gluten free diet or Celiacs disease. The best start is to use gluten free ingredients and sauces but unfortunately, most soy sauces do contain wheat. Now, we can thank food manufacturers who have begun making gluten free soy sauce products! Kikkoman now makes a gluten free soy sauce:
Lee Kum Kee has also stepped up to the plate with a gluten free soy sauce as well!
Leah Cohen Chef And Owner At Pig And Khao And Piggyback New York Ny
Whether shes preparing khao soi and pork belly adobo in the kitchen of Pig and Khao or cooking at home, Cohen likes to use fish sauce wherever she can. “My husband says that that fish sauce comes out of my pores because I use it so much,” Cohen jokes. She turns to it as a source of salinity in her bolognese and when sautéing vegetables, or “any dish you create that requires saltwhich is like every dish.” Her go-to is Red Boat, but shes also a frequent user of the more affordable brand Squid when the standalone flavor of the sauce isnt as important, like when its added during active cooking. A lot of people dont want to spend 12 dollars on a bottle of fish sauce that they are not sure theyll use often, she says. Someone did an article on fish sauce and Squid was one of the worst ones, and I was like, I use it and I think I have a pretty good palate. I like Squid, so anyone who wants to fight me on that can fight me. I stand behind it.
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Thai Kitchen Gluten Free Premium Fish Sauce
Premium Fish Sauce
Beyond Celiac Gluten-Free: Gluten-free certification program. www.gf-cert.org. Non GMO Project Verified. nongmoproject.org. Made with sea salt. All purpose sauce. Fish sauce provides the essential savory flavor in traditional Thai cuisine. Use in place of soy sauce or salt. Add to your favorite salad dressings or marinades, curries and stir-fries. Find recipes for red curry shrimp and vegetables cold noodle salad with spicy lime vinaigrette and chicken satay on our website. Make your kitchen a Thai kitchen. Salt crystals may naturally form in bottle. thaikitchen.com. We welcome your questions & suggestions. 1-800-967-THAI . Visit: thaikitchen.com. Product of Thailand. Fish Sauce provides the essential savory flavor in traditional Thai cuisine. Use in place of soy sauce or salt. Add to your favorite salad dressings or marinades, curries and stir-fries. Find recipes for Red Curry Shrimp and Vegetables, Cold Noodle Salad with Spicy Lime Vinaigrette and Chicken Satay on our website.Make Your Kitchen a Thai KitchenÂ®.Nutrition Facts
|Servings Per Container :
Thai Chicken Soup With Noodles
- Cooking time15mins
Creamy coconut milk, tangy lime, and fragrant lemongrass cause a flavor explosion in this Southeast Asian-inspired soup. Chewy noodles make it hearty enough for dinner.
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- 1 pkg fresh lemongrass
- 3 packets ramen
- 1 tbsp peanut oil
- 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 container sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 tbsp lime juice
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Edward Lee Chef And Owner At Milkwood In Louisville Ky And Author Of Buttermilk Graffiti
I have whispered quietly to anyone who would listen that fish sauce is the magical elixir that makes everything taste better, says Lee, who regularly plays Korean cuisine and food from the American South off one another in his restaurants. Lee swears by Red Boat, but he doesnt stop at the brands flagship sauce: BLiS collaborated with Red Boat to age their already-great fish sauce in used bourbon barrels for up to seven months. The result is a magical thing that I sometimes drink by the teaspoon when I want the world to feel right again. It is truly a perfume that adds an intangible beauty to almost any dish, he says.
Leela Punyaratabandhu Author Of Bangkok: Recipes And Stories From The Heart Of Thailand
For Punyaratabandhu, fish sauce is fundamental: You cant achieve the quintessential Thai flavor by using other sources of salinity, she explains, while noting that regional preferences in Thailand vary quite a bit. When choosing a bottle, Punyaratabandhu says she pays more attention to ingredient list than brand: You want a high level of anchovy, not a lot of salt, and not a lot of sugar, she says. Like Nguyen, she likes Megachef, but mentions Golden Boy as a worthwhile lower-cost brand as well.
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Variations Of Fry Sauce:
Mix and match ingredients to have endless amounts of sauces for your fries and burgers. Try it with a little more heat or add in some fun juices for a sweet and tangy fry sauce.
Here are a few ideas to get started on trying:
- Mayonnaise: It is best to enjoy the thick, rich texture of real mayonnaise but substitute it for miracle whip or a veganiese mayo for a preferred taste.
- Spices: Black pepper, garlic powder or garlic salt are great ways to add in a strong flavoring. Just start with a dash and continue to add it as you go for the flavor you are hoping for.
- Heat: Make this as hot and spicy as you would like. Tabasco sauce, hot sauce or some red pepper flakes are great ways to bring on some extra heat.
- Juices: If you are not a fan of pickle juice try apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or even horseradish to give your mouth a kick of tanginess.
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Pad Thai Salad With Shrimp
- Cooking time25mins
Featuring a spicy fish sauce vinaigrette, this lighter twist on takeout noodles can be served warm or cold.
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- 1 pkg straight-cut rice noodles
- 1 lb raw peeled, deveined shrimp
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 tbsp Asian chili garlic sauce
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups shredded carrots
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Choose Packaging That Is Easy To Use
Three main popular types of packaging are plastic bottles, glass jars, and packets. If youâre looking for a single serving, we suggest you choose packets. Theyâre one-time use, so you dont need to worry about having too much leftover sauce .
But if you want to buy in a larger quantity, we suggest you choose a plastic squeeze bottle. A glass jar is heavy and may be difficult to use and store compared with other packaging types. But the good thing about glass containers is theyâre usually free from chemicals like BPA.
Nicole Ponseca Owner Of Jeepney In New York And Author Of I Am A Filipino
Fish sauce, or patis, as it is known in the Philippines, is used both in the kitchen and tableside at Ponsecas restaurant, Jeepney. Its a key ingredient in sawsawan, which Ponseca describes as a troika of condiments that makes a personalized dipping sauce, typically patis, an acid like vinegar, as well as chili and/or garlic.
Ponseca says she looks for patis thats way more confident in its saltiness than some other fish sauces. It should offer unadulterated funk. Youll find a childhood favorite, Rufina, on her tables, but she notes that Kamayan is also a good option. To Ponseca, one thing is for sure when it comes to Filipino patis: none of them are quiet in any way. These are the brass part of the band its loud. Sadly, patis can be a bit tricky to find online.
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Ground Bean Sauces And Pastes
These are savory Chinese sauces and pastes made from fermented dried black beans and their other leguminous cousins. Varieties include good old black bean sauce, spicy bean sauce, and red bean paste, among others. Instantly adding amazing flavor to various stir-fries, stews and other dishes, they can all usually be found stacked side by side in any Asian grocery store. Just look for the aisle with a dizzying array of soy sauces, vinegars, rice wines, hot sauces, and bean pastes. This particular Koon Chun brand of ground bean sauce has been around for some time and in Cantonese, our family called it meen see jeung and use it in stewed dishes and in Chinese BBQ spare rib sauces like in the recipe for Take Out Style Chinese Spare Ribs.
Ground bean sauce is also made with fermented yellow soybeans rather than black beans, but the overarching theme is always salty rather than sweet. One of Judys signature recipes that uses ground bean sauce is Beijing Fried Sauce Noodles . Try it out and were pretty sure youll be left wanting an I < 3 Ground Bean Sauce t-shirt.
The Best Condiments For Seafood: Our Store Bought Favorites
I get it! Youve spent a decent amount of time prepping and cooking delicious seafood. Youre hungry to just dig in. You really dont want to spend extra starving seconds on making condiments from scratch.
Weve got you covered! Here are our favorite store-bought condiment selections to get you to the dining table faster.
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A Quick And Easy Tartar Sauce Recipe
Making tartar sauce by yourself is very easy and requires only a few ingredients. Plus, you can adjust the flavor and add different seasonings based on what you like, too. We have chosen the easiest and quickest tartar sauce recipe that requires only five minutes and nine ingredients. Here is the recipe from SweetySalado!
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Fast Chicken Pad Thai
- Cooking time10mins
Stir-fries like Pad Thai require some multi-tasking. Prep the sauce and stir-fry the chicken and veggies while the noodles soften and in 15 min., dinner will be ready to serve.
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- ½ pkg rice noodles
- juice of 1 lime
- ½ lb skinless boneless chicken breast
- ½ cup roasted peanuts
- 1 cup beansprouts
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How To Make Fry Sauce Recipe:
Again, I cant stress enough how simple this recipe easy. This is a tried and true favorite that tastes so good all the time.
What Is Fry Sauce
Fry sauce is known in Utah, southern Idaho and some parts of Oregon. It became famous quickly as at fast food restaurants. Now, it is sold in local grocery stores and famous throughout these main states. This recipe is so simple and full of flavor.
This condiment is usually served with French fries, burgers and wraps. Of course, your imagination can be endless once you make it for yourself. The original recipe is made up of ketchup, mayonnaise and a variation of spices and liquid ingredients to create an amazing combination. It is a MUST make for sure!
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