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I enjoy The Age Epicure section. Less so now in the post-Lethlean era, but it still pleases me somewhat.

This week there was a little note on the first page about fish sauce. Not just any fish sauce – it was about the David Thompson endorsed brand, Megachef. Apparently, Mr. Thompson, Thai-food extraordinaire, is ‘truly addicted to the taste and quality’ of the sauce and insists that it ‘gives depth and dimension to every dish’. (I strongly suspected these words came straight from a press release and a google search revealed that  I was not wrong.)

Anyway, yesterday, at the Prahran Market (on a flying visit to buy some green mangoes for mum), I spied a large bottle of the Megachef sitting right there on the counter at the Asian grocer. It was enticing me to purchase it, so I did.

“This one was in the paper!” I said to the man at the register, as I seized the bottle. “Have lots of people been asking for it?”

“Indeed, they have,” responded the man. This must have been why it was sitting right there. His canny marketing exercise worked on me, which I’m ok with.

I was very pleased with my new fish sauce, so I took it home and decided to do a taste test comparison with the other fish sauce in the pantry (one not endorsed by any famous chefs). Was DT right? Could Megachef really be that much better than the Three Crabs brand that had, until now, happily been part of many a Thai-style dipping sauce?

I got Three Crabs out of the pantry, tipped some on a spoon, stuck it in my mouth, swished it around thoughtfully…and….

Megachef_vs_3Crabs

Three Crabs vs. Megachef

GAAAAAGGG! Oh, it was bad. Real bad. It tasted like…umm…how to describe? Like concentrated and extra salty anchovies, left to ferment in the South-East Asian tropical sun for months and months!

I thought I better push on and taste some Megachef too. Would DT’s endorsed brand any better?

Prognosis: No. Fish sauce is gagworthy when taken on a teaspoon, whether premium or non-premium. I think the Megachef was slightly smoother, and a little less salty, but it was difficult to think about taste when my eyes were watering.

Lesson learned: Fish sauce needs friends to achieve its great and true potential. Fish sauce alone is horrifying.

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2 Responses to “Lesson learned #1: Do not drink fish sauce straight from the bottle.”

  1. Gem says:

    Oh noes! *can’t help but laugh*

    My mum’s Filipino and they use fish sauce (‘patis’) a lot for flavouring. It smells like absolute death, but used very sparingly makes food taste so good. I’m thinking particularly for ‘arroz caldo’ (think like Chinese congee, but often with very little additions – maybe chicken. Good for when you’re unwell).

    • Saskia says:

      It is funny how fish sauce tastes so good when paired with other things, but so terrible on its lonesome!

      Arroz caldo sounds interesting…I’ll have to check it out…

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