11 Great Substitutes for Fish Sauce

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Are you one of those people who just can’t get enough of that umami flavor?

Then you probably can’t get enough of fish sauce. But what if you’re out of the fish sauce and need a substitute?

Never fear, we’ve got you covered with some awesome substitutes for a fish sauce that will give your meal that extra something special.

From oyster sauce to tamari to miso paste, there’s something here for everyone.

So go ahead and give them a try!

11 Best Substitutes for Fish Sauce

1. Soy Sauce

Vegan-friendly and easily available, soy sauce is an excellent, economically efficient substitute for fish sauce. 

The amino acids created from the fermentation of soybeans provide a rich, umami flavor. It differs a little, however, and is sweeter than fish sauce. 

How to Substitute

To offset that undesired sweetness, savory ingredients can be mixed in specific proportions with soy sauce. Rice vinegar (1:1), lime juice, mushroom and soy broth, and anchovies are popular.  

Here’s how to cook with soy sauce –

2. Vegan Fish Sauce 

Vegan fish sauce is often manufactured from mushrooms and aminos. Though not easily available, it can be found in many online stores.  

If you’re making a dish that requires fish sauce critically, vegan fish sauce is your best bet to match the flavor. 

How to Substitute

Substitution can be done in a 1:1 ratio and there’s no need to change recipe measurements but be mindful of the sodium content. 

Here’s how to cook with vegan fish sauce –

3. Worcestershire Sauce

This sauce is made from anchovies, tamarind, molasses, etc, and fermented for 18 months, making it slightly more expensive.

Similar process techniques enable Worcestershire sauce to taste like fish sauce but it’s a little sweeter, containing onions and garlic.  

How to Substitute

Though this sauce is thicker than fish sauce, it has a much lower content. It’s replaceable in a 1:1 ratio with fish sauce. 

Here’s how to cook with Worcestershire sauce:

4. Oyster Sauce

Oyster Sauce is made by caramelizing oyster liquids with sugar, salt, and cornstarch, making it rich in protein and fiber. 

It’s a lot thicker and sweeter than fish sauce but because of the oysters, the sauce possesses a fishy flavor similar to fish sauce.

How to Substitute

Because it’s thicker than fish sauce, you should lighten the oyster sauce with water before substituting it with fish sauce (1:1 ratio). 

Here’s how to cook with Oyster Sauce:

5. Coconut aminos 

Manufactured by the fermentation of coconut sap, coconut aminos are a great vegan-friendly, gluten-free, soy-free, and wheat-free substitute.

Containing only a fourth of the sodium content of fish sauce, it’s used to produce vegan fish sauce as well.

How to Substitute

This is sweeter than fish sauce but can still be substituted in a 1:1 ratio for similar taste. However, you may consider adding another savory ingredient to your recipe.  

Here’s how to cook with Coconut Aminos:

6. Tamari Sauce

Tamari is just another version of soy sauce that contains miso paste made from soybeans, making it richer in protein. It’s also usually gluten-free. 

It has a deeper umami flavor than soy sauce but contains a lower amount of sodium. 

How to Substitute

Tamari sauce can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio. However, start slow and add as per your taste.  

Here’s how to cook with Tamari:

7. Seaweed

Extremely nutritious and grown beneath the sea, seaweed can sometimes be a broad term.

However, many species are a great replacement for fish sauce and contain the most significant amount of protein and fiber on this list. 

Nori and kombu have a deeper umami taste while wakame is used where less flavor is needed.

How to Substitute

Fresh seaweed can be used in broths, salads, and sauces while dry seaweed is preferable in other dishes.  

Here’s how to cook with Seaweed:

8. Anchovies

Small, green, and usually prey, these freshwater fishes are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids which are known to reduce blood pressure by unclogging your arteries.

Though sometimes used fresh, they’re more popularly sold in canned, dried, smoked, or salted forms. 

How to Substitute

A few chopped-up filets of anchovies can add a similar flavor to your recipe as fish sauce would.  

Here’s how to cook with Anchovies: 

9. Hoisin Sauce

Not a popular substitute due to its sweet, barbeque taste, hoisin sauce can still work. It’s made from fermented soybeans, having similar nutritional value. 

This is a great 0-calorie ingredient for the same umami flavor but fewer health sacrifices.  

How to Substitute

The best way to use this sauce is by combining it with soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio and then replacing it with fish sauce in equal measure.

Here’s how to cook with Hoisin Sauce:

10. Vinegar and Wakame Powder

Wakame powder is nothing but dried, ground seaweed, which, when mixed with vinegar and salt, gives a taste quite similar to fish sauce.

However, because it’s greenish and murky in color, it might not serve well as a dipping sauce or in a broth.  

How to Substitute

Any vinegar can be used except balsamic vinegar. This creates a strong flavor so add very little as you go. 

Here’s how to cook with Wakame:

11. Fish Broth

Being an obvious choice, not only is fish broth similar in taste but has a truckload of nutritional values like calcium and omega-3 fatty acids.  

Fish broth is made from boiling fish with onions and celery, contrary to fish stock which is made from fish bones. 

How to Substitute

Since the broth isn’t as concentrated, you will need twice as much to achieve the desired taste. 

Here’s how to cook with fish broth:

FAQs

Can I omit fish sauce from a recipe?

Yes, you generally can. In most recipes, fish sauce isn’t the primary source of flavor. It’s only an enhancer.

However, in most East-Asian recipes, fish sauce is a key ingredient, which is why I recommend using a substitute if you don’t have it on hand.  

What is fish sauce made out of?

Latest manufacturers say that in its purest form, fish sauce only contains two ingredients: anchovies and salt. The anchovies are marinated in salt and left to ferment, which may take months or even up to a year. This mixture is then turned into a sauce.

Some companies, however, add fillers for economic profit. These fillers may include fructose, vegetable protein, or even anchovy extract. The purer the product, the fewer fillers it has. Be sure to read your label for more information.  

Can oyster sauce replace fish sauce?

Yes. As stated above, oyster sauce hits many of the notes that fish sauce’s flavor does, making it the perfect substitute for stir-fry recipes and salad dressings.

However, it may not be appropriate in recipes that deal with broths due to its thicker consistency. Make sure to thin the oyster sauce with water for such usage. 

How can I make homemade fish sauce?

The internet has many recipes out there for that depending on your needs. The most authentic tasting recipe, however, is made with fish, seasonings like garlic and peppercorns, and sauerkraut brine. 

Bottom Line

I hope this article has helped you choose the right substitute for fish sauce, be it for flavor, allergies, cost, or simply unavailability. 

Please feel free to leave a comment below for any feedback or suggestion you might have. 

And lastly, do share this article with your family and friends as I’m sure it’ll help them if it has helped you! 

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About Amanda Jones

Amanda is a person with an eye for detail. She has been cooking since her childhood and loves to bake too. Recently, she's made the decision to pursue baking full-time and quit her 9 to 5 job. In the meantime, she still enjoys cooking and baking for friends and family, especially when it comes time for special occasions like birthdays or holidays!

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