What can be used in place of fish sauce? (5+ alternatives)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: What can be used in place of fish sauce? We will give you six alternatives for fish sauce and discuss what is fish sauce used for.

What can be used in place of fish sauce?

There are several vegan options that can be used in place of fish sauce. While fish sauce (aka a liquid seasoning made from fish or krill that has been salted and fermented for two years or more) is commonly found even in your average grocery store now, vegetarians and vegans avoid it for obvious reasons, as do many with shellfish allergies. So how do you get the umami stinging kick without resorting to the bottled stuff?

1. Mushrooms, umami broth

The cook’s illustrator found that a salty broth made from mushrooms, salt, and soy sauce could be used in a 1: 1 ratio with the real deal.

2. Soy sauce + chopped anchovy

Alternatively, for a tablespoon of fish sauce, you can use a tablespoon of soy sauce mixed with a finely chopped anchovy fillet (scaled up or down, depending on the needs of your recipe).

3. Soy sauce + vinegar + a pinch of salt

Soy sauce is quite sweet and umami, but it needs a bit of puckering to make it a suitable substitute for fish sauce. Try mixing equal parts soy sauce and vinegar (white, cider, wine or champagne, or rice, it all works, just not balsamic), and add a pinch of salt, then use it in the same ratio as the fish sauce.

4. Liquid or coconut milk + a pinch of salt

Made from soy treated with an acidic solution, or fermented coconut sap, respectively, the liquid and coconut amino acids have a salty, sweet, and umami-inflected taste that is somewhat reminiscent of fish sauce, though not exact, and the underlying contribution of fish sauce will not be present using this option. Use amino acids in a 1: 1 ratio and be sure to add a pinch of salt to taste.

5. Vinegar + wakame powder + pinch of salt

Wakame powder, also known as a variety of edible seaweed that has been dried and finely ground, closely approximates the salty taste of the fish sauce. Mixed with any vinegar of your choice (except, you guessed it, balsamic) plus a pinch of salt, this sub will be pretty close to the original. However, it will also be dark green and cloudy in color, so keep that in mind based on the recipe you’re hoping to use it in (you may want to keep it out of clear sauces or broths, for example).

6. Vegan fish sauce

This recipe combines a number of substitution tips and tricks from above. It’s a bit more complicated than the others too, but it’s worth it. It tastes just like fish sauce. All that said, we recommend making a big batch so you can add dashes and drizzles for many pans of pad Thai to come.

Other FAQs about Sauces which you may be interested in.

Is Worcestershire sauce bad for you?

Is Worcestershire sauce the same as soy sauce?

What to use fish sauce for

Although the fish sauce is a condiment found in almost all of Asia, it is essential if we want to introduce ourselves to Thai or Vietnamese cuisines, where it is ubiquitous.

In Southeast Asia, fish sauce is used to dress all kinds of woks, salads, and even curries, and it is essential in such iconic dishes as pad thai or Vietnamese rolls, which are dipped in a sauce in which the nuoc man is necessary.

In Asia, fish sauces serve the same function as soy sauce, and it is wildly popular precisely in regions where this legume does not grow well.

It is a salty condiment, with a very recognizable flavor of intense umami, which evokes more roast meat than the sea.

There are many varieties of fish sauce. In Thailand, it is known as nam-pla, in Vietnam, nuoc mam, Korea jeot-Kal, or in Japan shiokara. These sauces are made with different raw materials and other fermentation times, but their manufacture is practically identical.

First, fish or shellfish waste is mixed with salt until a saline concentration of between 10 and 30% is obtained. This mass is sealed in closed containers for a month to get the fish pastes and 24 months to make the sauces.

Pasta (harder to find in the West) has a robust fishy taste and rotten smell. But the sauces are barely reminiscent of what they once were: it is a salty condiment, with a very recognizable taste of intense umami, which is more reminiscent of roast meat than the sea. Its uses in the kitchen are unlimited.


There are several options to be used in place of fish sauce. Among those mentioned in this article are soy sauce, vinegar, chopped anchovy, coconut milk, or vegan fish sauce.

There is a great variety of fish sauces, using anchovies, prawns, squid, or even mollusks according to the recipe. Some recipes incorporate some herbs and also taste of chicken or pork. You can use anchovies instead of fish sauce, but do not use too many of them since it can easily be too much and make your dish bitter.

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


Bonappetit.com – Fish Sauce

Thestonesoup.com – The Best Simple Fish Sauce Substitutes