Fish sauce (nuoc mam) is the most important seasoning in Vietnamese cooking. Like shrimp sauce (mam tom), fish sauce is a stealth ingredient used by Vietnamese cooks to impart savory depth and oomph. But despite fish sauce’s role, it can be confusing to select a bottle at the Asian market. For years, my go-to fish sauce brand has been 3 Crabs by Viet Huong Fish Sauce Company. But there have been plenty of impostors to get in the way of making the right choice. My shopping has been cluttered with 2 Crabs, 4 Crabs and other knockoff labels and bottles. At a Vietnamese market where the fish sauce selection can be overwhelming, I’m often standing in the fish sauce aisle studying and deciphering the multitude of labels.
One day I realized that the Phu Quoc brand of fish sauce was also made by Viet Huong Fish Sauce Company. Then a visitor to this site said that he preferred 1 Crab brand over 3 Crabs brand as the former is less salty. There's a 1 crab brand too? When I last shopped at the Shun Fat (Thuan Phat) Westminster Superstore market in Orange County, I noticed a 5 Crabs brand. What’s with all the crabbiness and the Phu Quoc brand?