Anchovies are small, saltwater fish commonly found in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. They can be found in different forms, such as whole, in a paste, or canned. They are preserved by being soaked in saltwater.
Anchovies can be used alone or alongside other ingredients. But if you have trouble finding anchovies, there are plenty of substitutes for anchovies that you can use, and they deliver similar savoriness to a dish as you would get with anchovies.
Some of the best anchovy substitutes include shrimp paste, sardines, capers, umeboshi, Asian fish sauce, etc.
Now, let’s look at them in detail!
Best Substitutes For Anchovies
1. Other Forms Of Anchovy
If you can’t find whole anchovies, you can use other forms of anchovy. There are different variations of anchovy products you can find being sold on the market.
You can usually find anchovy products like full anchovy, dry or non-dry; canned anchovy fillets; anchovy paste, etc.
These are all forms of anchovy and can be used to replace each other when using the anchovy ingredient on the aspect of flavor.
However, if the recipe requires a factor other than flavor, you would need to make the substitution make sense in the dish.
Anchovy paste also tends to be heavy in texture and flavor, so it should be used as an alternative wisely. Full fillets can also be used in place of anchovy paste, and they give a relatively lighter flavor compared to the paste.
When using a filet to replace paste, you’ll need one filet for ½ teaspoon of paste.
You can also crush the fish fillets into a paste-like consistency, although it won’t have the additional vinegar and flavors present in store-bought pastes. Here’s an easy substitution measurement you can follow:
- One anchovy fillet equals a half teaspoon of anchovy paste; this ratio is, however, determined by how thick or salty your anchovy paste is
- You can replace mashed anchovies with anchovy paste using the same ratio. However, this theory only applies if your mashed anchovies are dense and concentrated).
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2. Shrimp Paste
Shrimp paste is a great flavor enhancer commonly used in Asian cuisines. Although it has a pungent smell, once shrimp paste is added to your dish, it flavors it exceptionally. It can be used in sauces and curries and gives a wonderful flavor to these dishes.
Shrimp paste adds an immerse flavor and spice to dishes and can be used as a substitute for anchovies under the ratio of ½ teaspoon of shrimp for ½ teaspoon of anchovy paste.
You can adjust the taste of shrimp paste and make it milder by adding pureed tomatoes or margarine to the compound; you can also adjust the flavor with any liquidy ingredient appropriate to your dish.
3. Asian Fish Sauce
Asian fish sauce is another ingredient that can be used to substitute anchovies that replicate the flavor rightly.
It is gotten directly from anchovies or sometimes catfish sauce; and is a special Asian sauce that is easily accessible; it should be used sparingly due to its impactful taste and attractive scent or smell it gives a dish!
Fish sauce is best used as a replacement for anchovies in soups, stews, stock, or braises. It can also be used in caesar servings of mixed greens as well.
Sardines and anchovies are quite similar in being flavored fish but may not be the best substitute for anchovies for several reasons.
First, both fishes have different flavors; sardine has an extremely mild and light flavor and is unable to replicate the saltiness that anchovy brings.
They also differ in texture, but if you only have sardines at your disposal, using them as a replacement for anchovies will take some effort as it may change the dish’s texture and flavor.
These two fish are only similar to each other in terms of appearance, so they can only be used as a replacement for full anchovy fishes, for dishes that call for whole fishes.
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5. Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies as an ingredient making it an exceptionally great substitute. The fact that this sauce contains anchovies as an ingredient means you achieve a similar taste difference when using it as a substitute.
Worcestershire sauce can be used in recipes that only require the taste of anchovy paste, as it provides the same flavor and tastefulness.
This sauce contains a wide range of ingredients other than anchovies, and it doesn’t give your dish a fishy taste. This makes Worcestershire sauce definitely one of the best sauces for replacing anchovies.
Pea-sized capers are usually available in canned salt and vinegar. It can be used in sauces and fish dishes and is a decent option that gives your dish a solid flavor that isn’t very overwhelming compared to using different alternatives.
Use ½ teaspoon of capers in replacement for one teaspoon of anchovy paste. They are easily sourced, and you can find capers anywhere, from your local stores to supermarkets.
If you are familiar with Japanese cuisine, you may have come across umeboshi before. This is a Japanese dish frequently made as a side dish with rice, packed with an extremely intense flavor.
This can be used as a substitute for anchovy paste and adds a great “umami” flavor.
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