Fish Sauce Substitute

5 from 2 votes

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Fish sauce, that umami-packed elixir of Southeast Asian cuisine, can add a depth of flavor to your dishes that’s hard to match. But what if you’re out of this savory liquid gold, or you’re looking for a fish sauce substitute for your vegetarian or vegan friends? Fear not, because I’ll show you all of the Fish Sauce Substitutions.

three bottles of ingredients for fish sauce substitutes with a small clear dish in front
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Fish sauce is a versatile condiment used extensively in Southeast Asian cuisines and beyond. It serves as a flavor powerhouse, adding a salty and savory depth to dishes like stir-fries, curries, soups, and marinades. Fish sauce is also the secret behind many dipping sauces and salad dressings, contributing to their unique and delightful flavor profiles.

This culinary elixir is not just a flavor enhancer but also a symbol of cultural significance. Fish sauce bridges the gap between various cuisines, allowing chefs and home cooks alike to infuse their dishes with the distinctive salty and umami notes that make meals memorable.

Whether you’re stir-frying, marinating, dressing salads, or crafting traditional dishes, fish sauce is a versatile tool that adds complexity and depth to your culinary creations, making it an indispensable part of kitchens worldwide.

clear portion bowls with fish sauce substitutes

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Fish sauce is like a flavor bomb that detonates in your mouth, offering a complex, salty, and umami-rich profile. It enhances the taste of countless dishes, from Thai curries to Vietnamese pho, and even Caesar salad dressing!
  • Fish sauce might not always be readily available in your pantry. By knowing substitutes, you can cook your favorite Southeast Asian dishes without the need for it.
  • One of the primary reasons people adore fish sauce is its incredible versatility. It can be used in marinades, sauces, soups, and stir-fries, and can even make an appearance in cocktails and dipping sauces.

Recipe Ingredients

two clear small portion dishes with fish sauce substitutes
  • Soy Sauce: Salty, savory, and versatile.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Tangy umami in a bottle.
  • Garlic Powder: Instant garlic flavor.
  • Sugar Pinch: A touch of sweetness.
  • Warm Water: Mixing magic.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

1. Soy Sauce: Soy sauce provides a salty and savory flavor, making it an excellent alternative in many dishes. It’s readily available and works well in Asian and non-Asian recipes.

• Use: Substitute an equal amount of soy sauce for fish sauce in recipes.

one bottle of soy sauce used for fish sauce substitutes with a small clear dish in front

2. Worcestershire Sauce: Worcestershire sauce has a complex, umami-rich flavor with a hint of sweetness, making it a suitable replacement for fish sauce.

• Use: Replace fish sauce with Worcestershire sauce in equal amounts.

one bottle of Worcestershire sauce for fish sauce substitutes with a small clear dish in front

3. Tamari or Coconut Aminos (for Gluten-Free): Both tamari and coconut aminos offer a similar salty and savory profile as soy sauce but are gluten-free. Tamari has a deeper flavor, while coconut aminos have a slightly sweeter taste.

• Use: Use tamari or coconut aminos as a 1:1 substitute for fish sauce.

one bottle of coconut secret for fish sauce substitutes with a small clear dish in front

How To Make Fish Sauce Substitue

Step #1. In a bowl, blend together soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and a pinch of sugar until fully incorporated.

Step #2. Stir in warm water until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Taste and customize to your liking; for more saltiness, add extra soy sauce, or enhance the depth of flavor with additional Worcestershire sauce.

Step #3. Employ this DIY fish sauce alternative in your recipes just as you would with the conventional version. It harmonizes beautifully in soups, marinades, stir-fries, and sauces.

clear small portion dishes with fish sauce substitutes

Recipe FAQs

What is fish sauce, and why might I need a substitute for it?

Fish sauce is a condiment made from fermented fish, known for its savory, umami flavor. You might need a substitute for fish sauce if you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet, have a fish allergy, or simply don’t have fish sauce on hand for a particular recipe.

Can I simply omit fish sauce from a recipe?

You can omit fish sauce from a recipe if you’re unable to use any of the substitutes. However, it may affect the depth and umami flavor of the dish, especially in Asian and Southeast Asian recipes where fish sauce is a key ingredient.

Can I use the same quantity of substitute as fish sauce in a recipe?

In most cases, you can use the same quantity of substitute as fish sauce in a recipe. However, it’s a good idea to taste and adjust the substitute as needed, as the flavor profile may vary slightly.

Are fish sauce substitutes suitable for all recipes?

Fish sauce substitutes work well in many recipes, but they may not perfectly replicate the unique flavor of fish sauce. Use your judgment based on the specific dish you’re preparing. They’re generally suitable for soups, marinades, stir-fries, and sauces.

three bottles of ingredients for fish sauce substitutes with a small clear dish in front

Expert Tips

  • This homemade fish sauce substitute does not perfectly replicate the taste of fish sauce but it adds more depth and complexity to your dishes than the single ingredient swaps.
  • Be cautious when adding additional salt. Soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce are already salty, so taste your substitute before adding more. You can always add more salt if needed, but it’s challenging to correct an overly salty mixture.
  • Don’t forget to label your container with the contents and date of preparation. This helps you keep track of freshness and prevents any mix-ups in your kitchen.
three bottles of fish sauce

How to Store Homemade Fish Sauce

Homemade fish sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Shake or stir before using, as some settling may occur.

Are there any substitutes for fish sauce that are gluten-free?

Yes, several gluten-free alternatives can replace fish sauce, including tamari, coconut aminos, and homemade substitutes made with gluten-free soy sauce or tamari.

What is the best substitute for fish sauce in a vegan or vegetarian recipe?

Vegan Worcestershire sauce, tamari or soy sauce are excellent choices for vegan or vegetarian recipes.

More Condiment Recipes To Consider

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three bottles of ingredients for fish sauce substitutes with a small clear dish in front
5 from 2 votes

Fish Sauce Substitute

Discover homemade fish sauce substitutes that cater to different diets and pantry limitations, adding savory depth and unforgettable flavor to your dishes.
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons warm water

Instructions 

  • In a bowl, combine soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and a pinch of sugar.
  • Add warm water and stir until all the ingredients are well combined.
  • Taste the mixture and adjust the ingredients to your preference. You can add more soy sauce for saltiness or Worcestershire sauce for depth of flavor.
  • Use this homemade fish sauce substitute in your recipes just as you would use traditional fish sauce. It works well in soups, marinades, stir-fries, and sauces.

Notes

  • This homemade fish sauce substitute does not perfectly replicate the taste of fish sauce but it adds more depth and complexity to your dishes than the single ingredient swaps.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 Fish Sauce Substitute, Calories: 37kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 0.1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g, Sodium: 2232mg, Potassium: 221mg, Fiber: 0.4g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 13IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 26mg, Iron: 2mg
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