Red Boat Phamily Reserve Fish Sauce (Small Batch 50°N Classic)

1 Review

We import most of the products on The Mala Market ourselves, direct from China, but sometimes the best product for the job has already been imported by someone else. Case in point: Red Boat Fish Sauce, which is made by an American family in their homeland of Vietnam.

Fish sauce does not get any better than Red Boat, and Red Boat does not get any better than the Pham family's Phamily Reserve, the small-batch version with a higher protein content and even richer, umamier taste than the version you find at the supermarket.

Fish sauce is graded by its nitrogen and protein level, and while most supermarket fish sauces measure 20° nitrogen, Red Boat's flagship fish sauce is 40°N and its Phamily Reserve—named so because it was previously literally reserved just for the family—clocks in at a stunning 50°N.

Red Boat was founded by Cuong Pham, a Vietnamese immigrant and former Apple engineer, in 2011, and since then all three of his children have grown up and joined him in the Phamily business. 

How Red Boat does it: "We use only black anchovies caught off of the crystal clear waters of Vietnam’s Phú Quốc archipelago. Our fish sauce is fermented using a centuries-old traditional method in large wooden barrels for a clean, natural umami flavor. We bottle only first press fish sauce as indicated by our classic dark amber color, guaranteeing it is never diluted."

You already know that fish sauce is an integral part of Vietnamese and Thai food, but did you know that parts of coastal China also make frequent use of fish sauce? In particular Chaoshan/Teochew, in southeastern Guangdong province, uses fish sauce alone or combined with soy sauce in its everyday cooking.

And global chefs of all stripes do the same to up their umami game. In his book The Wok, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt recommends using fish sauce not only in every Southeast Asian cuisine but also in "any meaty Western-style stew, like beef stew, chili, or even ragu Bolognese....Chili with fish sauce doesn't taste like fish; it just tastes like extra-tasty chili."

Distributor: Red Boat, Hayward, CA
Producer: An N Cuong Co., Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Size: 250ml (8.45 ounces)
Ingredients: anchovy, sea salt