You do not need to refrigerate, and it will never really go bad.
You have sold me.
Can fish sauce be kept in the fridge?
I've heard the same "6-month" thing too but can't tell the difference between fresh and 1-year old stored in the refrigerator. I asked my favorite Vietnamese neighbor once but he couldn't comment since it never lasts very long in his household anyway. After a couple of years I noticed a color change because solids started to settle or precipitate out. That's when I throw it away and buy new... because I assume it changes the flavor even though I can't really tell with my tongue.There's a school of thought that it loses/shifts flavor over about 6 months. French Fries has detected the shift himself and asked about it and I pointed him to vietworldkitchen.com where that blogger talked about it as well.
I can see a color change around that point, but I'm harder pressed to say it tastes off.
Well in the instance kokopuffs is talking about. I would just add it to the braising liquid, but I do also use it for a roast as a rub. Worcestershire, olive oil, S & P, minced garlic and sometimes rosemary. Very tasty crust.
I understand all of that, but what I'm saying is that while the taste is really good, strong yet delicate, powerful but rich and complex, when the bottle is new, a few months later the flavor profile has turned into something that's completely overpowering, vile, rotten, muddy, undefined.... even if you use less of it (because it's so much stronger), it doesn't taste nearly the same.
@French Fries It's a ferment. It is alive. It will change with time. Some would say that the fishy smell you observe is desirable.
It's about learning how to use it. Add a little bit at a time, taste, and adjust. I don't follow recipe amounts when it comes to fish sauce, soy sauce, miso or any other ferments. It varies way too much.