Fish sauce is a salty and savoury ingredient that is quite a popular condiment. Fish sauce is an essential ingredient in Southeast Asian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Cambodian dishes. It is used to marinate meats, stir-fries, kinds of pasta, and salad dressing or added to the soup to punch the flavour. It adds an “umami” taste to many dishes such as pad Thai noodles, salad of green papaya and many more popular dishes. But what would you do if you didn’t have a fish sauce substitute, what would you do? This complete guide is the answer to this question. So let’s begin.
What is fish sauce?
Fish sauce is an ingredient that smells quite gross but makes food tastier. It is available as a liquid ingredient that adds a salty and savoury flavour to dishes. Fish sauce is made by coating fish in salt and letting them ferment in large jars for almost two years. After all, this process puts the sauce in bottles and uses it to add flavours to recipes. It is mainly a salty nut. It can even use to add a sweet flavour.
Why we use fish sauce substitute?
Indeed, fish and seafood meat are part of our balanced diet. It is the most significant nutritious source of omega fatty acids for the human body. It is hard to get an alternative to fish sauce, but often it is compulsory to use it in place of fish sauce. Its need may arise when a recipe calls for fish sauce.
Fish sauce substitute may arise in many cases, such as:
- Seafood allergies
- Lack of access
- Unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans
- Unhealthy due to high sodium content
Also read: Best Pans for Cooking Fish
5 Best Alternatives; fish sauce substitute
Here is the list of sauces alternatives you may use in place of fish substitutes, some of which are vegetarian-friendly.
5 best substitutes for the fish sauce:
1. Soy sauce
Soy sauce is the perfect substitute for fish sauce and an option for vegans and vegetarians. It is available in liquid condiments and made with fermented soybeans, water and salt. You can use soy sauce as a substitute at a 1-to-1 ratio.
You can mix soy sauce with vinegar and lime juice to get extra flavour. Soy sauce is darker, thicker and sweeter than salty fish sauce. It is the best condiment to use when cooking because it has a rich umami flavour due to amino acids in soybeans.
One tablespoon of soy sauce contains:
- Calories: 10.8
- Carbohydrates: 1 gram
- Fat: 0.018 gram.
- Protein: 1.89 grams.
- Sodium: 902 milligrams
- Fat: 0.018 gram
- Soy sauce has three basic types, including;
- Dark soy sauce
- Light soy sauce
- Thick soy sauce
2. Tamari soy sauce
Tamari is a popular Japanese soy sauce alternative known as shoyu. You can use it instead of fish sauce because of its salty flavour. Tamari sauce contains water, organic soybeans, salt & miso paste. It is less salty than soy sauce due to its higher soybean protein content. It helps in the digestion of fruits and vegetables.
Tamari soy sauce is rich in several minerals and a source of vitamin B3, Protein, manganese and tryptophan. You can swap it with fish sauce at a 1-to-1 ratio. If you want to reduce the taste, take a cup of tamari and add water to get the desired texture.
Benefits of tamari soy sauce:
- It tastes better
- Additive-free condiment
- Easy to Use in recipes
- Higher in Protein (over 30% more Protein than soy sauce).
- Contains Antioxidants
- A smooth Taste
- A thicker texture
3. Oyster sauce
Oyster sauce is a famous Cantonese sauce, and it is also a fish product. However, it is unsuitable for vegans and persons with fish-shell allergies. People could find oyster salsa to be a good substitute who does not like fish sauce’s gross smell.
Oyster sauce offers a similar flavour to fish sauce butt has a thicker texture than fish sauce. You can add water to the oyster sauce to make it thinner. If you want a good alternative, add an equal amount of fish sauce.
Oyster sauce is primarily used in stir fry recipes and fried rice. It is a low-calorie fish sauce substitute and an excellent option for those looking to add a considerable flavour while watching calorie intake.
A tablespoon of oyster sauce may contain as much as 4 grams of sugar, while fish sauce contains no sugar. It is primarily available in a caramel shade, made from oyster, white sugar, and salt extract.
A tablespoon of oyster sauce has:
- Calories 9.18
- Carbohydrates: 1.96 grams
- Protein: 0.243 grams
- Fat: 0.045 grams
- Sodium: 491 milligrams
However, it is essential for those who are conscious of a balanced diet that oyster sauce is not as rich in vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre as compared with other substitutes.
4. Vegan Fish Sauce
If you don’t have fish sauce, vegan fish sauce would be the best option because it is a homemade version of the original fish sauce. This is the best option for vegetarians, vegans, and individuals who want to avoid extra fat in their diet because it does not have any fat.
Vegan fish sauce is commonly made from shiitake mushrooms, liquid amino, and soy sauce. This vegan-friendly substitute uses ramen, stir-fries, marinades, dipping sauces and many other dishes.
It can easily make at home, and you need ingredients such as shredded seaweed, water, garlic, black peppercorn, mushroom soy sauce, light soy sauce & miso paste. These ingredients bring an umami flavour to the meal. If you already have a vegan fish sauce, you can replace it with the original one at 1:1.
A 15-millilitre serving of vegan fish sauce contains:
- Calories: 15
- Carbohydrates: 1 gram
- Fat: 0 gram
- Protein: 1 gram
- Sodium: 1,330 milligrams
5. Worcestershire sauce
Worcestershire sauce is not a traditional Asian ingredient. However, it is pretty popular in England for its solid savoury flavour, and its origin is also England. It is also fermented for almost two years and has an umami flavour, the same as a fish sauce which makes it the best substitute for each other. Fish sauce is saltier, while Worcestershire sauce is sweeter.
Worcestershire sauce is made from various ingredients, including garlic, tamarind, chilli pepper, onion, sugar, anchovies, salt, vinegar and other flavours. It can add to noodles, dumplings, marinated meat and salad dressings. You can even sprinkle this substitute sauce over steaks, sausages or toasted cheese.
This alternative sauce is fat-free, so it is an excellent option for a person who wants to minimize dietary fat intake. Sodium is less in quantity than fish sauce, so it would be the best option for those who follow a low-sodium meal plan. It is thicker than fish sauce, but it can still use the same proportions in dishes. The ratio would be 1:1 as a fish sauce substitute.
One tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce has:
- Calories: 12.3
- Carbohydrates: 3.07 grams
- Fat: 0 gram
- Protein: 0 gram
- Sodium: 208 milligrams
Your Fish Dish party is incomplete without the special fish sauce. A fish sauce can exceptionally enhance the taste. Suppose, if fish sauce is not available, what you would do? No worries, you can use fish sauce substitutes for this purpose. In this article, we have given you some ideas for an alternative to fish sauce. I’m hoping you would like it and pick up any sauce. It will boost your meal taste in a significant way.
Medical Disclaimer: All the content available on the website is just for informational purposes. It’s not a substitute for any Professional advice. Don’t take it personally. As a medical student, I’m just trying to use my information through my content, and please keep in mind it’s not written by a professional doctor. Use the data just for educational purposes.
Dr. Kelly Han is a seasoned medical professional with a passion for holistic wellness and integrative health. Based in San Francisco, her expertise spans across various domains of health, from fitness and skincare to oral health and weight management.
Understanding the intricate connections between different aspects of health, Dr. Han believes in a comprehensive approach. Whether it’s the latest skincare regimen, effective weight loss strategies, or understanding hormonal imbalances, she’s dedicated to providing readers with evidence-based advice and actionable insights on a wide array of health topics.
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