I have previously written about the nectar which is Red Boat Fish sauce and why, considering the modest premium compared to generic nuoc mam, there is no reason not to make it your default fish sauce. Now Sam Luu, the operations manager, has introduced me to “Red Boat Salt” and I feel much the same way about this product. (Although I’m not going to make it a straight-up replacement for table salt, as Red Boat recommends.)
Red Boat Salt is “hand harvested from mango wood barrels that held acclaimed Red Boat Fish Sauce for more than a year”. In other words, this is the stuff that accumulates on the side of the barrels as the sauce is fermenting and it it then dried and ground fine. It is salty and fishy and umami all at once yet with an added note that one taster, not knowing the origin, thought came from smoking. (Maybe it’s the resins of the mango wood?)
I tried some with some grilled onions (recipe here) and as the salt in a squid prep that was lightly-cured in lime juice with mint, drained and lightly oiled, then cooked on the grill. The results were mind-blowing. It enhances the other ingredients the same way salt does, but adds another layer of complexity.
Red Boat sells four 1-ounce packets of Red Boat Salt, which will last you a long time, for $10 with shipping included. There is no reason you should not order some of this right now.