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Old 06-23-2005, 12:50 PM   #1
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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.

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...?

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Old 06-23-2005, 01:07 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 06-23-2005, 01:09 PM   #3
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mmmmmm, squid brand fish sauce. i wonder when they'll get into the ice cream business??????????
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Old 06-23-2005, 01:11 PM   #4
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Why couldnt you buy it?

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.
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Old 06-23-2005, 01:17 PM   #5
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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.
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Old 06-23-2005, 01:20 PM   #6
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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.
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Old 06-23-2005, 01:28 PM   #7
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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.
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Old 06-23-2005, 02:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
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.
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Old 06-23-2005, 02:56 PM   #9
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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
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Old 06-23-2005, 03:03 PM   #10
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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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Old 06-23-2005, 03:14 PM   #11
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Here;s a better picture. I like 3 Crabs.

http://importfood.com/gourmet_fish_sauce.html


You can find all kinds of weird and wonderful items in asian markets. Lots of funny jars and bottles having something to do with fish. I have no doubt that that jar of preserved/fermented fish was labeled fish sauce because often things are lost in translation.

But the fish sauce you want looks like one of the bottles above. If you want to cook Thai at home, you'll need it.

Happy cooking. Let us know how it turns out.
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Old 06-23-2005, 10:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema
You can find all kinds of weird and wonderful items in asian markets. Lots of funny jars and bottles having something to do with fish.
I can't help but to agree with that. I used to shop at a big Asian grocery store back in OK. Man, that place smelled weird. But, it had the greatest selection of stuff. I'm surprised I never saw my Chef in there, as I know he shopped there. I usually saw at least one person wearing Chef Whites purchasing something while I was there, usually a bottle of Srirachi.
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Old 06-26-2005, 03:07 AM   #13
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Best story about using anchovies: My wife swore she hated anchovies. I put some in the spaghetti sauce, broke them up with a wooden spoon when I sauteed them. She loved the sauce and could not really taste them. They just add a certain...unami? to the sauce? For me it tasted like grandma's, maybe that was her secret.

I also use it in Thai dishes.
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Old 06-26-2005, 03:32 AM   #14
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Here's a picture of the brand that I use. It's one of the most common brands and you should be able to find it almost anywhere.

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Old 06-26-2005, 10:18 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema
You can find all kinds of weird and wonderful items in asian markets.
Asian Markets can be great that way, if you live close to a "clean" one. Unfortunetly I usally find myself by chance not living within a reasonable distance from any "clean" ones.

I suggest if you really know what your looking for, online can be great for these types of ingredients. Also usally online ones have a higher turn over rate so dont have to worry about experation dates as much.

Just type in Fish Sauce in Google: http://www.google.com/search?sourcei...8&q=fish+sauce

Third one on the list:
http://importfood.com/sati7501.html
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Old 06-30-2005, 10:46 AM   #16
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Finally picked up the fish sauce and made the Panang Curry. I'm so pleased at how it turned out. I think I did add a little bit too much fish sauce and will adjust for next time. I do taste just a hint of fish. Overall the dish turned out just like it tastes when I get it out.


Here's what I did:

1c Coconut Milk (divided)
1 1/2 tbsp red curry paste
1 tbsp fish sauce (I used 1 1/2 - I think 1 would be just right)
hand full of sweet thai basil (maybe 1/4 cup?)
1 1/2 tbps crushed chile pepper (i like it HOT - adjust to your taste)
meat (chicken/pork/beef)
onion, green pepper


Combine and heat 1/2 c milk and curry over medium heat for 4-5 minutes until combined. Add remaining milk and ingredients, continue on medium for a few minutes until all is incorportated.

I also added 1 chicked breast (cooked, cubed), 1/2 a onion - sliced kinda thick (sweated). Served over white rice. I may add a green pepper also next time as well.
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Old 06-30-2005, 12:52 PM   #17
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Your asian market might sell Panang curry paste, which is actually a bit different than red curry paste. It probably would not make a big difference though.

http://importfood.com/cpmp1401.html

Recipe sounds good. Glad the fish sauce worked out. I am guessing you really would have noticed a difference if you left it out.
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Old 06-30-2005, 01:00 PM   #18
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I did see the Panang curry paste next to the Red. All the recipies online that I saw for Panang all called for Red. I may try the Panang next time I make it to see if I notice any difference. I really did like the taste of the red.

I'm still new to the whole Thai cooking scene, so I have no clue about the different tastes between red, green, panang, etc curry.
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Old 06-30-2005, 01:02 PM   #19
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Also, thought I'd mention how cheap this meal was. Probably less than $6 total for a meal for 2 people. Can't beat that!!
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Old 06-30-2005, 02:20 PM   #20
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Jennyma, saw the pictures of the different kinds of fish sauce. So funny, as a kid growing up, my Mom always taught me to use the squid brand for cooking, but to use the 3 crabs or golden boy brand for eating. Meaning eating at the table as a dip or using to make lime dipping fish sauce. Not sure what the rationale is for that, could be due to the slight taste difference, and the cost. Squid is usually a lot cheaper, so the 3 crabs is reserved for table dipping, you don't use as much as when you cook.

If you use 3 crabs, try this: take fish sauce and add some sugar to it, then slice up some granny smith apples and dip and eat. MAN, it's sooooooooooooooooooooooo good. Ate this a lot as a kid.
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