Fish sauce is a rich, savory seasoning that adds umami flavor to many Asian dishes and sauces. It can be found in products around the world because of its versatility. Fish sauce, or nam pla , contains between 17 and 26 percent protein, which is extracted from fermenting salted fish. While fish sauce can be quite delicious, it’s a bit unusual and can seem strange to people who are unfamiliar with it – fishy smell (it shouldn’t smell at all, really) and all. If you’ve run into trouble finding a good substitute for fish sauce , then allow these 8 tasty alternatives to be your guide.
What is Fish Sauce?
Fish sauce, also known as nam pla or nuoc mam, is a staple in Southeast Asian cuisine. It is used to flavor curries and soups, but it is most often associated with Vietnamese dishes. The pungent smell of fish sauce can be off-putting for some people, but the salty and sweet flavor that it adds to a dish can really bring out the other flavors in it.
Though fish sauce has been around for centuries, it can still be hard to find, and is often only sold in Asian grocery stores. But don’t worry! If you live in a major city, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find fish sauce at an upscale supermarket or international food store.
Fish sauce is made from salted anchovies that are left to ferment for long periods of time until they develop a funky smell and taste. The fermented anchovies are then mashed together with salt and water to make the sauce. This process produces an umami flavor that is hard to find anywhere else.
It may seem strange that something so strongly flavored isn’t overpowering once added to a dish, but somehow the combination of ingredients creates the perfect balance of sweet and salty flavors while adding complexity to a dish.
8 Best Substitute for Fish Sauce
Fish sauce is a staple in many Asian cuisines, and for good reason — it packs a flavor punch that can enhance any dish. However, fish sauce typically contains wheat, which may be a problem for those with gluten sensitivities or allergies.
Tamari is an excellent alternative to fish sauce. It’s made using soybeans instead of saltwater fish, and it has a darker, richer taste than soy sauce. Tamari is also thicker, slightly sweeter, and less salty than soy sauce.
When replacing fish sauce with tamari in a recipe, use it at a 1-to-1 ratio. For example, if the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of fish sauce, you’d substitute 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of tamari instead. You can also start with less tamari than fish sauce and add more to taste at the end if needed.
Because tamari has stronger flavor than fish sauce does, it’s best used in recipes where its flavor can shine through. It makes an especially tasty addition to marinades for meats like chicken and pork as well as sauces for stir-fries and soups
#2 Soy sauce
Soy sauce is a good alternative for anyone who cannot eat fish or those who want to avoid animal products.
Fish sauce adds a salty, slightly sweet taste to foods. Its ingredients make it harder to digest than other sauces, but not if mixed with other ingredients. Mixed with other ingredients, the enzymes help break it down during digestion.
Vegetarians and vegans can use soy sauce as an alternative to fish sauce as long as they refrain from mixing it with anchovies. Those who do eat fish should know that anchovies are often used in the production of fish sauce.
#3 Worcestershire sauce
Worcestershire sauce is a tangy, savory, aromatic condiment. It is made primarily from fermented anchovies, but also includes almonds, molasses, and spices. One of the most common uses of Worcestershire sauce is to add flavor to meat-based dishes. Try it with grilled chicken, beef, or pork. Its sweet and spicy flavor makes it a popular addition to many Asian dishes including stir-fry, noodle dishes, dumplings, and grilled fish. Worcestershire sauce can be used in marinades for grilled meats or added to salad dressings.
#4 Oyster sauce
Oyster sauce is a thick, brown sauce that is used in many Chinese dishes. It is made from oyster extract, soy sauce, and sometimes other flavorings. It also has a salty flavor that is similar to fish sauce, but unlike fish sauce it does not contain any meat byproducts.
Oyster sauce has a texture that is thicker than fish sauce and frequently used in stir fry dishes. Fish sauce has a more liquid consistency and the liquid left over after making oyster sauce is typically used in soup or marinades. The two sauces have similar flavors but provide different textures.
Vegetarian and vegan cooks sometimes use oyster sauce as an alternative to fish sauce because it does not contain any meat products. However, it does contain shellfish so people with allergies to shellfish should avoid using it as a substitute for fish sauce.
#5 Vegan Fish Sauce
Vegan fish sauce is an alternative to the traditional fish sauce. It has a different taste, one that comes from a combination of ingredients such as seaweed, mushrooms and soy sauce.
You can use it in place of the regular fish sauce in any recipe. The fact that it is vegan friendly makes it even more useful. That’s because there are also many people who prefer to stay away from animal products.
Other uses include using it as a dip or marinade for seafood, poultry or pork. You can use it with fried rice for a better taste and you can also use it in ramen recipes or soups like Pho. Essentially, you can use this vegan fish sauce wherever you would normally put the regular fish sauce.
#6 Mushroom and soy sauce
The soy sauce and mushrooms can replace fish sauce in any meal, including salads. Soy sauce is a great ingredient to use when you want to add flavor to your meal but don’t want the fat that comes with using oil or butter.
You will need a quarter or half of an ounce of shiitake mushrooms, depending on how much flavor you want to add. The sauce made from these mushrooms and soy sauce is thicker than fish sauce, so if you are substituting this ingredient in a salad, mix it with some vinegar first for a better consistency.
If you are cooking Asian food, you can substitute this mixture for any recipe that calls for fish sauce. The mushroom and soy sauce combination will be more flavorful than fish sauce and also has less sodium content. If you are trying to limit your sodium intake, this is the best ethical substitute for fish sauce that you could choose.
Seaweed is a great alternative to fish sauce. It will give more flavor and it is cheaper than buying fish sauce in your local grocery store.
Seaweed can be used in many different recipes. You can add it to soups, stews, and other Asian dishes as well as salads. You can also use seaweed by itself to make your own sauce or dip. You can use either the dried or the fresh seaweed, depending on what you are planning to do with it.
The difference between dried and fresh seaweed is that the fresh kind has a much stronger taste than the dried seaweed does. When you buy dried seaweed, you need to soak it in water before you can use it in any of your dishes. The amount of seaweed that you put in your dish will depend on your personal taste but for a standard recipe, you will want to mix the seaweed with an equal amount of water before adding it to your dish.
Aside from using it as a flavor enhancer, there are other benefits that come from using seaweed in your cooking dishes. Seaweed contains minerals such as iron and calcium which are great for maintaining a healthy diet as well as high levels of antioxidants which are good for fighting off disease
#8 Hoisin sauce
Hoisin sauce is used in different cuisines to add flavor to dishes like stir-fries, salad dressings, stews and soups. It is a dark brown sauce made from soybean paste and other ingredients depending on the brand.
How to make it – Hoisin sauce is made by mixing soybean paste, vinegar, garlic, sesame seeds, sugar and salt. The mixture is then boiled and cooked for a few minutes until the desired consistency is reached.
If you are a vegetarian, you can use hoisin sauce as a substitute for fish sauce since it has the same taste.
How to use it – You can use hoisin sauce in almost any Asian dish such as stir-fries, salads and soups. Traditionally it is used in Chinese dishes such as Peking duck or sweet and sour pork. It can also be used as a spread on sandwiches or burgers instead of ketchup or mustard. In Korea it is eaten with Jeon (Korean pancakes).
How To Make Your Own Substitute for Fish Sauce
There are many other substitutes you can use in place of fish sauce that are either equal or better than the original. You can add a bit of flavor to your dish by doing this, and it can make eating more fun with all the different flavors you’ve got on hand. So, try these substitutions out for yourself and have fun making your favorite dishes for dinner tonight.
We hope that this guide has been helpful to you and that you will have a new fish sauce substitute in your kitchen.