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-   -   Panang Curry: Fish Sauce? (http://www.discusscooking.com/forums/f21/panang-curry-fish-sauce-12201.html)

ElmoVT 06-23-2005 12:50 PM

Panang Curry: Fish Sauce?
I'm attempting to make some Thai food tonight. Panang Curry.

It calls for Fish Sauce. I saw what fish sauce is at the Thai market I went to, and couldn't buy it. Also read what it is here. :sick:

Every recipie I've seen online calls for 2tbsp of fish sauce.

How important is it, and is it a huge flavor in the curry? I really enjoy panang when I go out to Thai resturants...Do I just need to bite the bullet and get it and add it and don't think what it actually is...?

Andy M. 06-23-2005 01:07 PM

This is from the link you posted:

In case you are not yet familiar with fish sauce, it is that salty, smelly brown liquid made from fish that is the single, most important flavoring ingredient in Thai cooking (also well-loved in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma and the Philippines). Used like salt in western cooking and soy sauce in Chinese cooking, good-quality fish sauce imparts a distinct aroma and flavor all its own. It is indispensable in the Thai kitchen as Thai food wouldn't be quite the same without it.

The emphasis is mine in an attempt to answer your question. Actually, in the finished dish, you won't be able to taste a distinct fishy taste because of the fish sauce. It kind of blends in.

Bite the bullet and buy a bottle. If you love Panang curry, it's because they put the fish sauce in it.

Look for Squid brand if you can find it.

PS: The description DOES sound gross but the finished product is good stuff.

buckytom 06-23-2005 01:09 PM

mmmmmm, squid brand fish sauce. i wonder when they'll get into the ice cream business??????????

jennyema 06-23-2005 01:11 PM

Why couldnt you buy it? :ermm:

Fish sauce is an integral ingredient in basically all Thai and Vietnamese dishes. You have eaten it in basically anything you ordered at a Thai restaurant. It's to Thai food like soy sauce is to Chinese food. It's made from fermented anchovies. It is a distinctive flavor that I bet you actually like. It's salty but not particularly smelly, IMO.

You could make the curry without it but it wouldn't taste right. It would be like leaving soy sauce out of a chinese recipe.

Buy good fish sauce.

I prefer 3 Crab brand (pink label) or Golden Boy. Golden Boy and Health boy products are usually very good. Squid brand is very good too, with IMO, a slightly stronger taste.

ElmoVT 06-23-2005 01:17 PM

Maybe it was just the one that I picked up to look at at the Thai supermarket I went to today. It was in a little jar, maybe pickle jar size, and it had about 200 small fish all perfectly lined up in a row packed in a clear liquid. I assumed you just used the liquid.

Maybe I just looked at the wrong stuff and got turned off. I'll swing back by on my way home and pick some up. I guess it is important after all. Thanks for the input y'all. Appreciate it.

ElmoVT 06-23-2005 01:20 PM

maybe "genuine fish sauce is the water, or juice, in the flesh of fish that is extracted in the process of prolonged salting and fermentation"

The whole fish juice thing just turned me off a little. I'm going to trust you that it's not going to taste like I put a handfull of fish through my automatic juicer.

buckytom 06-23-2005 01:28 PM

i have tasted fish sauce straight up (trying to duplicate a soba noodle salad recipe), and it's not that bad. no worse, and much less salty than straight soy sauce.

Caine 06-23-2005 02:50 PM


Originally Posted by ElmoVT
It was in a little jar, maybe pickle jar size, and it had about 200 small fish all perfectly lined up in a row packed in a clear liquid.

That was not fish sauce. Fish sauce comes in a bottle similar to a whiskey bottle. Ask the clerk at the Thai grocery for Nam Pla. In a Vietnamese store it would be called Nuoc Mam, and in a Pilipino store is would be called Patis.

jennyema 06-23-2005 02:56 PM

Yes, that was not fish sauce. Look for the bottle as Caine describes. Most asian stores will carry several varieties.

It will be a clear golden brown liquid. Not scary.

I use dipping sauce made almost entirely from fish sauce all the time (with sugar, peppers, lime juice and cilantro). It's quite tasty IMO right from the bottle.

Here's a pic: http://importfood.com/sasq2501.html

ElmoVT 06-23-2005 03:03 PM

i swear the little bottle thing I picked up said fish sauce right on it. I'll see if I can pick up the real stuff. I'm definately not trying to see any little fish heads chillin' in my sauce.

Thanks for easing my worries about this stuff...

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