Through some imprudent shopping l was able to accumulate five of the best fish sauces available on the internet in the USA. Did a comparison of the five with some friends with like minded interest in the subject.
The five sauces are as follows:
Red Boat 40 / Vietnam $ 15/ 500ml # 3
Blis barrel-aged Red Boat 40 / Vietnam/ USA $ 18/ 200 ml # 2
Iwashi whiskey barrel aged / Japan $ 28/ 375 ml # 1
Colatura Nettuno/ Gustiamo / Italy $ 24/ 100 ml ! # 4
Korean anchovy sauce / Korea $ 12/ 500 ml # 5
The five were tasted at room temp both plain on spoon and on warm wheat noodles.
It seemed that they were what they were whether straight or on the noodles.
The four of us amazingly gave the same favorites and also rans as well, never happened
The clear favorites were the two barrel aged ones, the Blis and the Iwashi. They both had more of an umami sense than the others and a rounder profile as well.
While they were all ostensibly the same basic product there were noticeable differences between them, some like the colatura was sharper, or the Korean flatter and not very interesting. We felt that none tasted like excellent straight anchovies, as Ortiz, and we all preferred the anchovy from the jar crushed better than any sauce.
Granted we did not cook with any of them as the very high price ones are considered finishing sauces and not cooking. l will say l have cooked with the Red Boat 40 nuoc mam for many years and find it perfect with no off flavors for cooking.
Cost also was not a measure of our favorites either, as the most expensive one, the colatura finished 4th. The least interesting, the Korean, was not compared to the Thai inexpensive ones such as Squid, Three Crab, and Golden Boy, as l never liked any of them and never used them but still think it would far surpass them.
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