Where to Purchase Good Fish Sauce aka “Nuoc Mam”

According to Wikipedia web site, fish sauce is an amber-colored liquid extracted from the fermentation of fish with sea salt. According the Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, traditional nutritionists and authors of “Nourishing Tradition”, fermented foods ease our digestion because they contain good bacteria. This is one of many reasons why you see many Kimchi dishes are served with bar-b-que dishes at a Korean restaurant. They are wonderful complements to many bar-b-que Korean meat dishes. Plus, anchovies also contain a good source of Omega-3, a wonderful fat for our brain and heart.

Fish sauce is basically fermented anchovy with salt and sometimes water. Fish sauce is used in many Vietnamese dishes from a main dish Grilled Lemongrass Chicken (Ga Nuong Xa) to a popular Southern Vietnamese dish Grilled Chicken and Egg rolls served with Vermicelli (Bun Thit Ga Nuong voi Cha Gio ) or an appetizer Southern Vietnamese crepe (Banh Xeo). There are two different types of Vietnamese fish sauce. The most popular one that serves at a Vietnamese restaurant is filtered fish sauce, “nuoc mam”. The other type is unfiltered fish sauce “mam nem”–a wonderful Vietnamese delicacy.

There are several different brands of fish sauce at many Asian grocery stores. However, I usually prefer not to purchase them at these stores because they contain preservatives such as MSG, fructose corn syrup, and sugar. Remember to read the label. A good bottle of fish sauce must contain no more than two ingredients: anchovy and salt.

I purchase mine from a Korean grocery store, “Kukje” in Daly City, California. I checked at Ranch99 and many other different Vietnamese, Chinese, and other Asian grocery stores, but I haven’t found one that is preservative-free. Here are the two brands that I have bought from Kukje Market:

  • Rhees Bros. Inc. or Korean Farm, Inc.
  • Hai Tai America, Inc.

I recently found a very good fish sauce brand, The Red Boat. I bought mine at Berkeley Bowl. This is the cream of the crop; it is what we called “Mam Nhi” in Vietnamese. The two web sites below also carry fish sauce if you can’t find at your local grocery:


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Red Boat Fish Sauce
Courtesy of Red Boat Fish Sauce