Can you mix soy sauce and fish sauce?

In this article, we answer the following question: Can you mix soy sauce and fish sauce? We talk about the health benefits and the importance of both soy sauce and fish sauce.

Can you mix soy sauce and fish sauce?

The main fermentation processes of soy sauce are low-salt solid-state method and high-salt dilute-state method, the former of which dominates nearly 90% of the market due to its high production efficiency and low cost. Optimizing the fermentation process is a key way to improve the nutritional value and flavor of low-salt solid-state soy sauce (1).

You can mix soy sauce and fish sauce in a dish, just as you would add salt (soy sauce) and vinegar (fish sauce). The best way to do it is to mix the sauces in a separate bowl before adding it to your dish. Add both the soy sauce and the fish sauce in small batches until you get the consistency and flavour you want!

Both sauces are essential in the kitchen. They are used to season and marinate all kinds of dishes: meat, fish and shellfish, salads, stews, soups … They also serve as an accompaniment to multiple starters. Learning to make them, in some cases, is more complicated than it seems but finding them already prepared is becoming easier.

There are different types and they are fundamental in oriental cuisine due to their contribution of flavour and salt in the cooking of dishes. 

Fish sauce, also known as “fish gravy” is made with fermented fish in brine. There are as many varieties as fermented fish, but in each country, one of them stands out: nam pla, in Thailand; the nuoc mam, in Vietnam; patism, in the Philippines, and shottsuru, in Japan.

Fish sauce contains omega-3 fatty acids. Health-promoting advantages of consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially omega-3 long-chain fatty acids, in relation to serum cholesterol levels and prevention of cardiovascular diseases have been reported in the scientific literature. Fish sauce has been concluded to be a good source of bioactive compounds for humans, with high levels of both essential amino acids and fatty acids (3).

These fish sauces are marketed in liquid, ground or dried form depending on the type of recipe to be made. An example of this is takoyaki (Japanese octopus balls), where it is common to see it dried into flakes. Getting them is easier if you go to an Asian supermarket since, in Western cuisine, they are not used much.

Soy sauce is a traditional Asian spice, obtained by fermenting a soybean paste with salt and enzymes.

Soy sauce is made by a two-step fermentation process from wheat flour and soy beans with a mixture of molds, yeasts and bacteria. The first step involves fermentation with mold to produce proteolytic and amylolytic enzymes in the Koji which is a culture starter. This is followed by a second fermentation with yeast and bacteria in the presence of 18-20% salt. The microorganisms used in these fermentation steps are not inoculated at the same time, but are applied sequentially (2).

This special spice appeared about 2200 years ago, in western Ancient China during the Han Dynasty, where it was used to season various dishes. From here it spread to East and Southeast Asia and even further, gaining more and more popularity in Europe and the West.

Let’s not forget the health benefits of soy sauce, consumed in various dishes. The nutrients contained in soy sauce help us enjoy a healthier life.

Other FAQs about Sauces which you may be interested in.

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The health benefits of using soy sauce

Fermentation is the method used commonly to produce various soy products, it’s proven that fermentation can improve the physicochemical and sensory quality of the soy products. Bacillus subtilis and Aspergillus are the microorganisms commonly used for the fermentation of various soy products. Health promoting actions of commonly used fermented foods across the world is the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, and some allergic conditions (4).

The nutrients contained in organic soy sauce help you enjoy a healthier life. Some studies claim that such a product also helps in the following situations:

  • Reduces and relieves symptoms during menopause, due to the estrogen-like activity of isoflavones;
  • Relieves the symptoms of some inflammations;
  • Helps to lose extra pounds;
  • Have anti-diabetic properties;
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease and helps lower triglycerides;
  • Improves bone health, helping to retain calcium in the bones;
  • Protects the digestive system.

You may be wondering how this sauce, which you consider commonplace, can help you maintain your heart health. A higher intake of fermented soy protein products showed a blood pressure-lowering effect. In a population-based cohort study in Japan, results showed a higher intake of fermented soybean protein products lowered the risk of CVD mortality (5).

A study showed that after the fermentation process, soy sauce contained a full range of essential amino acids. Their amount was 1.7 times as high as in the original plant medium and 1.2 times as high as in the reference protein, mainly due to a high content of tryptophan. Tryptophan is known for its antidepressant, hypoglycemic, and cardioprotective effects (6).

On the other hand – on the same principle that soy sauce is good for human health – some minerals that the sauce contains have an antioxidant effect (4). 

The importance of fish sauce

Fish sauce is like salt in European food/ Although it has a strong smell and is quite offensive, when it is heated, alone or with other ingredients, the smell disappears.

The reason that it is used a lot is that it is very versatile and for few who do not know its characteristics, it is an agent that changes the flavour of itself and that increases the flavour of the other ingredients with which it is mixed. 

That is, when you add it, it already produces a different flavour, for example, like sugar or lime juice, or more like meat broth. More than that, each cooking method brings out a different flavour as well. Grilled or steamed, boiled, sautéed or fried, all the results come out with a different flavour. Finally, the sauce also changes if it is added before or after cooking.

For example, when preparing soup, such as Pho, combining with the star flavour of aniseed, fennel, clove and burnt ginger and onion, then with the flavour of the fish sauce, a subtle salty comes out because they stand out more aroma of meat and spices that this sauce without overlapping the others.

When it comes to marinating meats, their strong odour, strong salty flavour characteristics may not yet have changed. But in a few minutes when the meat touches the hot plate, it is already transforming the aroma, texture and flavour of the meat itself.

To make the dipping sauce to accompany the Nems (Vietnamese rolls), which does not need to be cooked, it leaves an intense flavour and smell to increase the flavour of the rolls. The rolls without the fish sauce would not turn out as good.

To experiment with using this product, instead of adding a pinch of salt, add a teaspoon of fish sauce and see how the flavour comes out. From there, you can experiment with the other ingredients.


In this article, we answered the following question: Can you mix soy sauce and fish sauce? We talked about the health benefits and the importance of both soy sauce and fish sauce.

The conclusion is that you can and you should mix soy sauce and fish sauce. It will give an amazing taste to your dish, as long as you respect the ratio and do not go overboard! Both sauces are essential in the kitchen and with many health benefits  (especially for our taste buds).

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know.


  1. Ruan, Luchen, et al. Improved umami flavor of soy sauce by adding enzymatic hydrolysate of low-value fish in the natural brewing process. LWT, 2022, 155, 12911.
  2. Luh, B. S. Industrial production of soy sauce. J ind Microbiol, 1995, 14, 467-471.
  3. Rabie, Mohamed A. Acceleration of mackerel fish sauce fermentation via bromelain addition. Nutr food sci, 2018.  
  4. Jayachandran, Muthukumaran, and Baojun Xu. An insight into the health benefits of fermented soy products. Food chem, 2019, 271, 362-371.
  5. Qin, Pingxu, Taoran Wang, and Yangchao Luo. A review on plant-based proteins from soybean: Health benefits and soy product development. J Agric Food Res, 2022, 7, 100265.
  6. Yu, Tadzhibova Polina. Bioconversion of soy under the influence of Aspergillus oryzae strains producing hydrolytic enzymes. Foods Raw mat, 2021, 9, 52-58.