Using fish sauce isn’t for everyone, but I do have to admit that it is an essential ingredient in some of my favorite dishes. If you don’t have any, or this particular smell and taste aren’t for you, then it may be time to know what other options you have.
Whether you are making fried rice, pho, ramen, or even a stir-fry, fish sauce can be part of the ingredient list and make quite a difference in the dish.
Yet, you don’t have to force yourself to add something you dislike or even make a tedious trip to the grocery store. However, you should know about some alternatives to create equally tasty results.
What Is Fish Sauce?
This condiment is made from fish or krill that has been fermented in salt for up to two years. It has been around for many years, particularly in Asian cuisines, such as Chinese, Indonesian, Cambodian, Thai, and Vietnamese.
The flavor of this sauce is both earthy and savory, which creates the perfect umami for many dishes. While its aroma is pungent, the taste is not. It is mostly salty, sweet, and even caramel-like.
What Can I Replace Fish Sauce With?
No matter what the reason is, if you can’t use it or don’t want to, consider these fish sauce substitutes that work for various recipes:
Best For Cooking, Pad Thai, Pho, and Kimchi
#1. Soy Sauce
Another staple of Chinese cuisine, soy sauce is a great way to add umami to your meals. It has a much saltier flavor and darker color, but it still creates the sour and salty mix that fish sauce tends to give to dishes. Soy sauce is perfect for pad thai, fried rice, kimchi, and even ramen or pho.
You probably already have soy sauce at home, but if not, finding it will be easy at any grocery or convenience store. To use it in place of fish sauce, add the same amount of soy sauce. Another good idea is to add a tablespoon of ground anchovies to mimic the fish flavor further.
See More: Soy Sauce Alternatives
#2. Liquid Aminos
This is a healthy option that has less sodium than soy sauce and is gluten-free. You can use liquid aminos for making any dish, but it goes especially well in pad thai, noodles, kimchi, or broth. To replace fish sauce, add the same amount of liquid aminos, though you may end up using more.
Finding liquid aminos can be challenging in some cases, but some grocery stores have it, or you may visit a specialty Asian store, instead. You can also add a pinch of salt to get more of a salty and umami flavor.
#3. Soy Sauce + Rice Vinegar
While this option is a bit more acidic, it makes for a great substitute when it comes to cooking dishes like kimchi, pho, or broths. You can also use it in pad thai and other noodle dishes, but you may want to add a bit of peanut butter to balance out the tartness.
Use ½ tablespoon of soy sauce plus ½ tablespoon of rice vinegar for replacing fish sauce.
While white vinegar can work in a pinch, you may want to look for rice vinegar, as it mimics the aroma and flavors in fish sauce better. You can find both soy sauce and rice vinegar in any grocery store.
See More: Vinegar Shelf Life
#4. Oyster Sauce
This sauce is made from cooked oysters and seasoning. However, oyster sauce is not fishy at all, instead, it tastes a bit caramel-like and sweet. It also contains soy sauce, so it adds saltiness and umami to your dishes, which makes it a great choice for pad thai, rice, pho, and kimchi.
As with fish sauce, you can find oyster sauce in the Asian cuisine aisle of your grocery store. Use the same amount as you would use fish sauce, but always consider the aroma that it adds to your meal.
See More: Oyster Sauce Substitutes
For Vegetarians, Vegans, and Curry Dishes
#5. Mushroom Broth
This choice is a bit out of the ordinary, but it is a delicious broth that is one hundred percent made from mushrooms and vegetables, so it is safe for vegetarians and vegans. Also, it works great in sauces, which is why it is a good alternative for cooking curry sauces.
Dried shiitake mushrooms make for a great broth, which you can simply thicken or use as a base for any sauce.
Finding these mushrooms shouldn’t be too hard at all, but you can try a grocery store or a farmer’s market. You can a dash of soy sauce for umami and color as well.
See More: Does Mushroom Go Bad?
#6. Miso Broth
Miso is a fermented soybean paste that is both salty and umami. This choice is vegetarian, but it can also be vegan in certain cases. You can find it in any grocery store or health store, as it is commonly used in soups and noodles, like ramen.
You can use two tablespoons of miso broth for every tablespoon of fish sauce. This is a great choice for any vegetarian meal, as well as curry, and ramen or udon.
See more: Miso shelf life
#7. Coconut Aminos
This salty sauce is made from the fermented sap of coconut palm and sea salt. This choice is also gluten-free and safe to consume if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. You can use it in every dish you want, but it works wonders in place of fish and soy sauce.
Keep in mind that coconut aminos is mild in flavor, and only a little sweet, so you may want to add salt and spice. Use the same amount that your recipe calls for, but feel free to add a splash of miso or mushroom broth for more flavor.
See More: Best Substitutes for Coconut Aminos
Yes, you can use Worcestershire sauce in place of fish sauce, but consider that the flavor is a bit more bitter and salty. Also, this choice contains traces of fish as well, so it isn’t safe for vegetarians or vegans.
The flavors aren’t similar at all, as hoisin sauce is thick and sweet. Yet, if you like the flavor, it is a good addition to certain meals, including ramen, pho, and pad thai. You can use a mix of hoisin with any of these seven alternatives.
No. Fish sauce doesn’t have to be refrigerated when closed or even after opening. Although, if you only use it seldom, it will last longer if you keep it in an airtight container and inside the fridge.
Not everyone likes the smell or flavor of fish sauce, but it is the main ingredient in many dishes we all love. Instead of giving up on cooking your favorite meals, consider using one or more of these seven substitutes. You’ll be surprised at the delicious flavors these all create!
Up Next: Does Fish Sauce Go Bad?
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