8 Best Fish Sauce Brands Packed With Flavor (Reviews)

What Makes a Good Fish Sauce?

Fish sauce is a popular delicacy from Asia as a dressing for food. The best fish sauce brands are pure and made of fish and salt.

Sometimes sugars such as molasses and caramel are added, but it’s unnecessary. The ingredients are placed in a wooden barrel and are left to ferment slowly. 

The most commonly used fish is anchovies, but you can also use shrimp, krill, mackerel, or other small fish. Read our article and find out Italian Fish Species and Recipes.

fish sauce with chili

The Different Types of Fish Sauce 

The history of fish sauce traces back to Ancient China and Ancient Greece.

In Asia, the condiment was the fermentation of fish, soybeans, and sauce. Eventually, they fermented the soybeans and the fish separately, thus the birth of soy sauce and fish sauce. 

In later years the demand for fish sauce declined but was brought back to China between the 17th and 18th centuries from Vietnam and Cambodia. 

The ancient Greeks, between the 3rd and 4th century, fermented a fish called garos, and it was called garum or liquamen, which was fish gut and other inedible parts of the fish. Also known as the evil-smelling fish sauce. Garum mixed with wine is oenogarum, mixed with vinegar is oxygarum, or mixed with honey is meligarum.

Garum translates to fish pickle and is the origin of Worcestershire sauce. The ancient fish sauce had a much lower salt content than the modern era. 

Today fish sauce is popular globally and manufactured in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Europe.

Fish sauce is for adding umami, which is one of the five basic tastes described as the savory taste characterized by both cooked meats flavor to dishes as a condiment or as a base for the preparation of dipping sauces. 

Fish sauce is economical as it has a long shelf life compared to other condiments. It would be best to store your sauce in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. 

Not all fish sauce is suitable for refrigeration so follow the manufacturer’s storage instructions to keep your fish sauce tasting great.

The types of fish sauce will depend on the country where the manufacturing takes place. The origin is also why the names of fish sauces vary, as it is from the country and the type of fish used. There are many variations and some popular fish sauces from around the world. 

For example, in southeast Asia, fish sauce is made from anchovies, sea salt, and water to produce an intense flavor. The anchovies and salt are placed in a wooden barrel to ferment for two years resulting in fish liquid which the salt extracts using osmosis. 

In East Asia, aside from anchovies, they use other small fishes like sardines, mackerel, and squid. Here are the fish sauces from the region per country. 

Some countries also have a sweet and sour variation mainly used for making dipping sauces.

Cambodia 

The fish sauce from Cambodia is called tik tri. The production involves fermenting the anchovies and salt for 6 to 8 months; distilling five times before fermenting for 2 to 3 months. The liquid is then ready to be transferred into jars.

Most of the fish sauce in Cambodia is from Kampot province, and the most popular dipping sauce is a sweet sauce mixture of fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, chili peppers, and crushed roasted peanuts. 

Laos 

In Laos, the fish sauce is called nam pa. There is also a chunkier version called padaek made from freshwater fish, which contains chunks of fish, and has an aroma similar to cheese since it’s fermented for a long time.

Philippines 

The fish sauce is also patis, a bi-product of bagoong production. The fish sauce is not only made from anchovies but also uses other small fish such as krill, sardines, and ambassids. In some cases, oysters and clams replace the fish. 

Patis is a condiment on cooked dishes, as an alternative to salt and as a base for dipping sauce. 

Thailand

In Thailand, fish sauce is called nam pla, similar to the fish sauce from Laos called padaek. The fish sauce is used for cooking and as a condiment, served with most dishes. 

The production process involves the fermentation of three parts fish and two parts salt for eight months, after which the mash is filtered, mixed with water and salt, and fermented for another three to four months.

Vietnam 

Two areas in Vietnam are popular for making fish sauce called Phú Quốc and Phan Thiết, and the fish sauce name is nước mắm. Vietnamese fish sauce is the “first press,” meaning the bottling of the fish sauce happens the first time after draining the barrels.

They use anchovies, mackerel, scabbard fish, and salt but do not add additives or preservatives.

China

The fish sauce from China is called yúlù, manufactured using Reeve’s shad, which is a fish that is generally fatty, bony, and odorous, and many find it unsuitable for direct consumption.  

Japan

In Japan, the fish sauce is called gyoshō or uoshōyu, with many variations depending on the region, and this also determines the fish used. The common types of fish used in Japan are sardines, squid, sailfish, sandfish, and sand lace. The sauce is a salad dressing to add flavor to ramen soup, among other uses.

Korea

Korean fish sauce is eojang, made from fermented anchovies, sand laces, and mackerel. The fish sauce is a key ingredient in preparing a Korean side dish called kimchi which is salted and fermented vegetables and salt.

England

Many do not know this, but Worcestershire sauce, popular in anglosphere countries, is a fish sauce made from various ingredients, including anchovies and salt. Other components include barley, vinegar, molasses, sugar, tamarind extract, onions, garlic, spices, and flavoring. 

It is a condiment on meat and other dishes and as a flavor for cocktails such as Bloody Mary and Caesar. 

Other countries that manufacture fish sauce are Italy, called colatura di alici, made from anchovies and salt. The sauce is popular for spaghetti alla colatura di alici, a noodle dish with garlic, olive oil, and fish oil. 

In Myanmar, the fish sauce is called ngan bya yay. 

Our Top Pick for Store-Bought Fish Sauce

Our top pick for store-bought fish sauce is the Red Boat Fish Sauce. This fish sauce is 100 percent pure, made only from anchovies and salt, with no additives or preservatives. In addition, the sourcing of the anchovies for the fish sauce is sustainable, and we love sustainability. 

The fermentation is slow and takes two years, bringing out the savory flavors. It has a long shelf life meaning you can enjoy the delicious sauce as long as possible. 

The fish sauce is also versatile, as a marinade or spice for your uncooked food or as a salt substitute at the table. 

Fish sauce

An Overview of Our Top Picks

Here are our top eight picks of the best brands of fish sauce from around the world. 

  1. Red Boat Fish Sauce (Best overall)
  2. Megachef Thai Fish Sauce (Best overall fat-free)
  3. Son Fish Sauce (Best overall gluten-free)
  4. Thai Fish Sauce (Best nutrition content)
  5. Rufina Patis Fish Sauce ( Best multi-use)
  6. Megachef Premium Anchovy Fish Sauce (Best overall for making Kimchi)
  7. Golden Boy Brand Fish Sauce (Best for Thai dishes, best overall smell)
  8. Vegan Fish Sauce (Best overall vegan)
Son Fish Sauce │ Premium Vietnamese Artisanal Fish Sauce Since 1951 | One Year Aged Anchovy Sauce │17.0 oz Bottle│100% Pure Natural │GLUTEN FREE, NO SHELLFISH , NO MSG ADDED | Available as Single or Double Pack. (Pack of 1)
Red Boat Fish Sauce, 17 fl oz
Thai Fish Sauce - 24 oz
Product Name
Son Fish Sauce │ Premium Vietnamese Artisanal Fish Sauce Since 1951 | One Year Aged Anchovy Sauce │17.0 oz Bottle│100% Pure Natural │GLUTEN FREE, NO SHELLFISH , NO MSG ADDED | Available as Single or Double Pack. (Pack of 1)
Red Boat Fish Sauce, 17 fl oz
Thai Fish Sauce – 24 oz
Price
$17.95
$13.95
$9.94
Son Fish Sauce │ Premium Vietnamese Artisanal Fish Sauce Since 1951 | One Year Aged Anchovy Sauce │17.0 oz Bottle│100% Pure Natural │GLUTEN FREE, NO SHELLFISH , NO MSG ADDED | Available as Single or Double Pack. (Pack of 1)
Product Name
Son Fish Sauce │ Premium Vietnamese Artisanal Fish Sauce Since 1951 | One Year Aged Anchovy Sauce │17.0 oz Bottle│100% Pure Natural │GLUTEN FREE, NO SHELLFISH , NO MSG ADDED | Available as Single or Double Pack. (Pack of 1)
Price
$17.95
Buy Now
Red Boat Fish Sauce, 17 fl oz
Product Name
Red Boat Fish Sauce, 17 fl oz
Price
$13.95
Buy Now
Thai Fish Sauce - 24 oz
Product Name
Thai Fish Sauce – 24 oz
Price
$9.94
Buy Now

Our Top Fish Sauce Reviews

Many fish sauce brands are available on the market; the choice will depend on personal preference and other critical issues such as allergens.

A good fish sauce must have the following key ingredients: fish and salt. Some people are allergic to fish and may not partake in fish sauce. We also had to consider various dietary needs, such as vegan and vegetarian.

The choice of our top picks considers the purity of the fish sauce, the production process, and the use of artificial additives and colors. The best fish sauces do not contain any preservatives or additives and are sugar-free.

A fish sauce bottle is usually glass with a plastic cover. A good fish sauce should also have a long shelf life. 

Here are our fish sauce reviews of the top 8 fish sauce brands. 

Red Boat Fish Sauce (Best Overall)

Amazon Choice Award: In fish sauces by Red Boat

About: The Red Boat Fish sauce is one of the purest fish sauces from Vietnam, made from wild-caught black, sustainably sourced anchovies and sea salt and slowly fermented in carefully selected wooden barrels. The fish sauce does not contain preservatives and monosodium glutamate (MSG).

This sugar-free fish sauce, which is also gluten-free, is a great salt substitute, making it suitable for healthy diets such as Keto, Whole 30, and Paleo. 

It has a long shelf life of three years, unopened from the date of manufacture and one year opened and refrigerated. 

The fish has a deep savory umami flavor and is suitable for pre-cooking as a marinade and a condiment. 

The sauce is gluten-free and does not contain soy, nuts, or shellfish. The sodium content is 1,340 mg (0.047 oz) per one tablespoon. 

Brand: Red Boat

Flavor: Original 

Package Information: Bottle

Weight: 1.1 pounds (0.5 kilograms)

Allergen Information: Fish 

Country of Origin: Vietnam

Specialty: It can be used as a marinade, added to sauces, dressing, soup, broth, and stock. You can also use it to make a Bloody Mary.

Material Feature: Paleo and gluten-free

Other Features: It has a 36 months shelf life from the date of manufacture and 12 months once opened but must be refrigerated. 

Megachef Thai Fish Sauce (Best Overall Fat-free)

Amazon Choice Award: In fish sauces by Mega Chefs

About: The Megachef Thai fish sauce, created with only the finest quality anchovies and sea salt, is a rich and salty seasoning that can improve any dish. Naturally fermented for two years, this seasoning has a clean and rounded taste that will enhance your cooking.

This fish sauce from Thailand is best for curries, stir-fries, and sauces. Fermented for two years, it has a salty finish making it suitable as a salt substitution. 

The sauce is gluten and preservative free and does not contain MSG or artificial colors. The Megachef Thai fish sauce is perfect for those with certain food allergies. The sodium content is 1500 mg (0.051 oz) per tablespoon. 

Brand: Mega Chefs

Flavor: Fish 

Package Information: Bottle

Weight: 0.9 pounds (0.43 kilograms)

Allergen Information: Fish 

Country of Origin: Thailand 

Specialty: The fish sauce is best for stir fry, curries, and sauces.

Material Feature: Fat-free

Other Features: Gluten free

Son Fish Sauce (Best Overall Gluten-free)

About: Son fish sauce, manufactured by a 4th generation family business, is a 100 percent fish salt made only from anchovy and sea salt caught from the southwest coast of Vietnam. The sauce fermentation takes one year, bringing out the highest quality, flavor, and smell.

This award-winning fish sauce made in Vietnam is an artisanal fish sauce that is slowly aged in wooden barrels for one year and is considered the “first press.” 

The sauce is gluten and preservative free and does not contain MSG. The sodium content is 1440 mg (0.050 oz) per tablespoon. 

Brand: Generic

Flavor: Fish 

Package Information: Bottle

Weight: 2.36 pounds (1.07 kilograms)

Allergen Information: Fish 

Country of Origin: Vietnam 

Specialty: A marinate, a base for sauces, and dressing 

Material Feature: MSG and gluten-free

Other Features: Must be refrigerated after opening. 

Thai Fish Sauce (Best Nutrition Content)

About: The sauce combines anchovy extract, salt, and sugar, packed in wooden barrels, and is left to ferment for a few months. Adding this to your meal will add some complex flavor to your dish. The Thai fish sauce is high in protein and vitamin B and is a great salt substitute. 

The sodium content is 1,560 mg (0.055 oz) per tablespoon. 

Brand: Squid

Flavor: Fish sauce

Package Information: Bottle

Weight: 2.84 pounds (1.29 kilograms)

Allergen Information: Fish 

Country of Origin: Thailand 

Specialty: Base for sauces, condiments for cooked and uncooked food 

Material Feature: Fat-free

Other Features: High in protein and vitamin B 

Rufina Patis Fish Sauce (Best Multi-Purpose)

About This fish sauce from the Philippines is a great condiment made from fish extract, water, and salt. A small quantity of benzoate of soda is added as a preservative and does not contain MSG-free. 

It is best for seasoning and other table use. The sodium content is 490 mg (0.017 oz) per teaspoon. 

Brand: Rufina

Flavor: Fish 

Package Information: Bottle

Weight: 3.08pounds (1.4 kilograms)

Allergen Information: Fish 

Country of Origin: Philippines 

Specialty: Condiment in cooked and uncooked food

Material Feature: Fat-free

Other Features: MSG-free

Megachef Premium Anchovy Fish Sauce (Best Overall for Kimchi)

About: The sauce’s main ingredients are anchovy, sea salt, sugar, and fructose. The fish sauce is left to brew for two years using the traditional fermenting process, allowing it to mellow and develop a rich, beautiful bold flavor.

The Megachef Premium Anchovy fish sauce is preservative free and has no artificial colorants but contains some sugar and fructose. 

The sodium content is 1,520 mg (0.054 oz) per tablespoon. 

Brand: Mega Chefs 

Flavor: Fish 

Package Information: Bottle

Weight: 2.95 pounds (1.35 kilograms)

Allergen Information: Fish 

Country of Origin: Thailand 

Specialty: Megachef Premium Anchovy Sauce is perfect for stir-frying, marinating, soup, salad dressing, and seasoning. You can also use the sauce to ferment high-quality Kimchi.

Material Feature: MSG-free 

Other Features: No preservatives and artificial colors.

Golden Boy Brand Fish Sauce (Best for Thai Dishes)

About: The Golden Boy Brand fish sauce is one of the best quality fish sauces and is a top chef’s choice produced in Thailand, and is considered a gourmet fish sauce. 

Made with anchovies, salt, and sugar does not have artificial coloring or preservatives. It does not have an overpowering smell, and the taste is a medley of a slightly sweet and light bitter taste. 

The sauce, widely used by professional chefs, goes through the traditional process of fermenting the ingredients in wooden barrels and has an overall savory flavor. It is slightly sweet with a tang of bitterness and no strong smell. The sodium content is 1370 mg (0.048 oz) per tablespoon. 

Brand: Tang Heab Seng Fish Sauce Company

Flavor: Fish sauce

Package Information: Bottle

Weight: 2.93 pounds (0.93 kilograms)

Allergen Information: Fish 

Country of Origin: Thailand 

Specialty: Best for Thai specialty dishes

Material Feature: No artificial coloring

Other Features: No preservatives 

Vegan Fish Sauce (Best Overall Vegan)

About: This sauce, although called fish sauce, is fish free and is a product of seaweed contains mushroom soy sauce.

It does, however, contain MSG and soy and wheat allergens. We chose this one to be on the list for those with fish allergies or on a vegan diet. 

It is the best fish sauce without the fish, made from seaweed (Kelp and Wakame) and mushroom soy sauce. Other ingredients are water, salt, color E150a, sugar, soybeans, wheat, cider vinegar, sugar, and tomato paste.

The Vegan fish sauce also contains MSG, naturally and organically created as a bi-product from boiling seaweed. This fish salt has the lowest sodium content on our top pick, containing 127 mg (0.004 oz) per teaspoon.

Brand: Chilli Mash Company Ltd

Flavor: Umami

Package Information: Bottle

Weight: 0.35 pounds (0.16 kilograms)

Allergen Information: Soy and wheat

Country of Origin: United Kingdom 

Specialty: Best for vegan dishes to make Thai and Asian cuisine. It is also a dip, a condiment, or a seasoning. 

Material Feature: Fat-free 

Other Features: It does not contain fish, making it suitable for those on a vegan and vegetarian diet and those with fish allergies. 

Benefits of Fish Sauce

There are many benefits to adding fish salt to your diet. Fish sauce is delicious, rich in flavor, and provides nutrients.

The most obvious reason to add fish sauce to your meal is to enhance the taste. It is used in various dishes to marinate, make a sauce base, and even in cocktails.

  • As published in the Journal of Food Science, Vietnamese fish sauce is a better alternative to salt due to its low sodium content. Therefore fish sauce is a great substitute for salt due to its umami taste. It also has a 10 to 25 % lower sodium chloride content than normal salt. However, add fish sauce sparingly as high sodium intake can cause high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. 
  • It has a lot of good nutrients such as Omega 3, which comes from the fish, Vitamin B, and iron, improving bone muscle and gut health. 
  • It is a great energy source, helps reduce fatigue, and improves the function of the nervous system and mental health.
  • Most fish sauces are pure and made without additives, colorants, and food preservatives, making them suitable for many diets. It is naturally free of allergens such as gluten and soy, although some manufacturers will add these products. While this may be the case, fish sauce is unsuitable for those with fish allergies or on a vegan diet. 

Fish Sauce Compared to Other Sauces 

Other sauces undergo a fermentation process and are used as condiments and great additions to improve your food taste.

Fish Sauce vs. Soy Sauce

The fish sauce should not be confused with soy sauce. Fish sauce is the fermentation of fish and salt, while soy sauce is the fermentation of soybeans, water, salt, and wheat.

Both are condiments for food; however, they are different in smell; the fish sauce is pungent, while soy sauce has an alcoholic smell. The other major difference is that soy sauce is vegan while the fish sauce is not. 

Soy sauce is much darker in color, while fish sauce has a lighter brown. Soy sauce is also much more pricey than fish sauce. 

Fish Sauce vs. Oyster Sauce 

The main difference between fish and oyster sauce is the production. While fish sauce production is the fermentation of the fish and salt in a wooden barrel for months or years, the oyster sauce is made by boiling oysters until they caramelize, and then sugar, salt, and cornstarch are added to thicken the sauce.

Oyster sauce is very dark and has a more syrupy feel, while the fish sauce is liquid and lighter in color. 

Oyster sauce is sweet with salty undertones, while fish sauce is highly salty. The smells are also different. Fish sauce has a poignant smell; thus, you may need to add lemon or lime juice, while the oyster sauce smell is much more subtle. 

Both are great additives to your food, depending on your preference. 

Fish sauce with garlic

A Final Word

Fish sauce is an excellent addition to any dish as it will enhance the taste. When choosing a fish sauce, it is best to choose one that is pure with low sodium content and from a reputable sauce.

The Red Boat Fish Sauce is a great fish sauce due to its overall great taste and is 100% pure and does not contain any additives and preservatives. 

Fish sauce will make your food delicious, but some may find the strong smell can be overpowering.  

High-quality fish sauces are available in your local grocery store or online marketplaces, such as Amazon.