Fish sauce is a tasty and popular ingredient made with melted anchovies or fishes that have been fermented for up to two years. Fish sauce is usually used in south Asian cuisines as it tends to add umami, rich, savory, and earthy flavor to a lot of dishes like stir-fries, salads, and others.
We all know that fish sauce is one of those ingredients that sound disgusting and smell even more disgusting, but when added to dishes, tastes very spectacular, and you can’t have enough of it.
Sadly, there might be cases where you would need fish sauce in your recipe, but you can’t get access to any. In such situations, you can’t just leave the dish half-cooked, and that’s what this article is all about.
There are several substitutes for fish sauce that you can always use, such as soy sauce, rice vinegar, anchovies, oyster sauce, coconut aminos, Worcestershire sauce, rice vinegar, tamari, and more.
We hope you stick around as we go through these fish sauce alternatives together to find your match!
Best Substitutes For Fish Sauce
1. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is made from soybeans(fermented), water, salt, and wheat and is an excellent substitute for fish sauce.
An amazing thing about this substitute is that it is not made with any animal-based ingredients, unlike the fish sauce, making it suitable for vegans.
Soybeans contain amino acids, which provide them with a strong umami flavor with a hint of sweetness.
You can make us soy sauce instead of fish sauce in a ratio of 1:1, and you can also try mixing in some other ingredients like the minced anchovies and rice vinegar for an extra flavor.
Tamari is just like the modern form of soy sauce because it is processed differently with ingredients like miso, salt, and water, and some may contain a type of brine known as the moromi.
The traditional soy sauce is made with wheat, while the tamari contains no wheat, making it a suitable option for people who are gluten intolerant, but to be quite certain, do well to read the label first before purchasing it.
Due to its higher soybean protein content, the tamari has a stronger and richer but less umami flavor than the fish sauce. You can substitute tamari water in place of sea sauce in a ratio of 1:1 or keep adding the tamari bit by bit until you get your desired consistency.
3. Oyster Sauce
Oyster sauce has a similar savory flavor as the fish sauce making it easy to replace it in recipes that require the fish sauce and most likely in stir-fry recipes.
You should note that the oyster sauce is a bit thicker than the fish sauce, so it won’t be suitable in recipes that call for fish sauce thin consistency.
If the only option is the oyster sauce, you can mix your oyster sauce with a bit of water to reduce the thickness. You can replace oyster sauce in recipes that call for fish sauce in a ratio of 1:1 in marinades, stir-fries, and even your rice dish but be prepared to yield a sweeter dish.
4. Vegan Fish Sauce
If you are vegan or have fish allergies, there are a lot of vegan fish sauces that you could try. These vegan fish sauces are usually made from shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, and liquid aminos for a thin consistency.
Liquid aminos are free amino acids extracted from fermented coconut sap or hydrolyzed soybeans. The mushrooms are responsible for the umami flavor because they contain amino acids.
You can substitute vegan fish sauce for the fish sauce in a ratio of 1:1, and you shouldn’t be bothered about the availability of the vegan fish sauce as it is available in online stores and most grocery stores.
5. Sea Weed
Seaweed is a term for plants and algae that are water-grown underwater. Unlike the name, the seaweed is highly nutritious and also contains a high level of amino acids.
Seaweed has a rich umami flavor, and because of this, it is added to broths and soups in countries like Korea and Japan.
Some high glutamate seaweed types include the rishiri, Hidaka, naga, ma, and cause, and if you want to tone down the umami flavor a bit, you can opt for seaweeds like the wakame seaweed.
Sometimes you find seaweeds in dry forms, but you shouldn’t worry as the dried seaweed can also work excellent as a substitute, although fresh seaweeds work best in recipes like broths, sauces, and salads, while dried seaweed works best when added to most dishes like the fried rice.
You can substitute the seaweed in a ratio of 1:1 for maximum results.
6. Coconut Aminos
The coconut aminos are obtained from fermented coconut sap and are easy to add to most dishes. The coconut aminos are rich in umami and usually have a dark color, making them slightly sweeter than the soy sauce and fish sauce.
The coconut aminos are also lower in calcium as the fish sauce contains about 320-600mg of sodium per 5ml teaspoon while the coconut amino contains about 90-130mg at the same amount.
The coconut amino is one of the best substitutes because aside from being a vegan substitute, it is gluten-free, soy-free, and wheat-free, making it a great sweet substitute for vegetarians and people with gluten intolerance.
7. Worcestershire Sauce
The Worcestershire sauce is popular in England and several surrounding countries due to its strong taste profile.
The Worcestershire sauce is made with many ingredients, including molasses, tamarind, anchovies, onion, cloves, vinegar, and several other seasonings, making it a delicious substitute for the fish sauce.
8. Mushroom And Soy Sauce
If you want to find a substitute for fish sauce in your soups and broth, then a mixture of mushroom and soy sauce is another amazing substitute as it combines the tastes of both mushroom and soy sauce.
Add three to four cups of water, ¼ – ½ ounce of dried or sliced shiitake mushrooms, and three tablespoons of regular or reduced-sodium soy sauce to a medium-sized simmer for about 15 minutes or when the broth has been reduced by half.
After this has been done, strain what’s left into a boil and use it as a substitute for your fish sauce in a ratio of 2:1. If you are not going to be using the broth, you can store it for up to a week in the fridge and several months in the freezer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Leave Fish Sauce Out of a Recipe?
You can leave fish sauce out of your recipe if it is not a major condiment, but you should note that fish sauce gives your salads or broths a special type of umami taste that you cannot easily get in a lot of recipes.
Can I Use Anchovy Paste Instead of Fish Sauce?
You can substitute fish sauce for anchovy paste in your recipes and vice versa, but you should note that you would get a fishier taste when using the anchovy paste.
Is Worcestershire Sauce the Same as Fish Sauce?
Even if they can both be used interchangeably in dishes, these two sauces are not the same. The Worcestershire sauce is a cousin to the fish sauce and soy sauce as it also provides your dish with an umami flavor.
Worcestershire sauce is not as popular as the fish sauce, even if it is mostly available, so you should note that when you need either your fish or soy sauce for a dish and you have none available, you can use the Worcestershire sauce.
Which Is Better, Fish Sauce or Soy Sauce?
These two sauces work effectively in their various recipes, but many people prefer and use the fish sauce as it is more popular.
Is Soy Sauce Made with Fish?
Soy sauce in no way contains either fish, meat, or even egg. The only types of sauces you can see containing all are the fish sauce and the oyster sauce.
Fish sauce is an amazing addition to your broth, but unfortunately, you cannot readily get it in every part of this world. The amazing thing is that there is always a substitute available around where you stay.
The amazing thing about the substitutes is that most of them can be swapped for the fish sauce in a 1-to-1 ratio making it even easier to substitute.
Most of the substitutes may differ slightly from the fish sauce in flavors and even texture, but the differences are not too much.