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We love this fish sauce because it is smoother and more complex than other varieties, with a unique nutty quality. To make it, Red Boat ferments wild-caught black anchovies with sea salt for 12 months in wooden barrels, then presses out and bottles the resulting liquid—that's it. All of its flavor comes from the natural aging process, not added sugar like with most commercial fish sauces. Its name is a reference to degrees N: the scale used to measure the amount of nitrogen in fish sauce, which correlates to protein content and thereby flavor. Forty degrees is up to three times the amount of protein of other brands because the company doesn't dilute its product with water, another indicator of Red Boat's superior quality. Though the initial aroma is intense and pungent, the flavor of this fish sauce isn't fishy, but rather a bold and complex hit of umami.
Silicon Valley engineer Cuong Pham started his company in 2011 as an effort to recreate the bold flavors and intense aromas of his native Vietnam and make them available to home cooks in the States. With a commitment to transparency and sustainability, Red Boat has revitalized the fish sauce industry on Phú Quốc, once famous for its traditional fishing communities and fish sauce factories.
Use this fish sauce as a savory complement to aromatic Southeast Asian curry flavors, such as in our Lemon Grass-Coconut Tofu or Singaporean Shrimp and Chicken Noodle Soup (Laksa). It's also a key flavoring for our Thai Fried Rice and adds savory notes to sweet shrimp in our Thai Grapefruit Salad with Shrimp (Som Tom O) and Grilled Skewered Cilantro-Lime Shrimp. You can also make dipping sauces, such as the dressing of our Grilled Cilantro-Lime Skirt Steak inspired by our travels in Cambodia. Or try our Southeast Asian Chicken Salad with Cashews and Coconut or Vietnamese-inspired Caramel-Braised Chicken with Ginger and Lime to add a rich, savory element to chicken.
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