June 30, 2023
From The Minimalist Vegan
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You realize it is one of those weekends when you’ve invited friends over, and everybody is up for a sumptuous Southeast Asian Cuisine that invariably calls for a fish sauce, but for you that rings a bell because you’re a vegan! But being vegan, you must be facing several stereotypes but finding it difficult to deal those, read our article on vegan stereotypes.

Well, to put your wrinkled brows at rest, we must tell you that there is a whole lot of vegan fish sauce substitute available in the market realm that can swap the animal-based item and can help make scrumptious, mind-boggling cuisines with no difference at all. Some of these alternatives are made from seaweed, while others are extracted from plant-based ingredients.

Although there cannot be just one ideal substitute for a particular dish, you can choose your favorite that works with what you’re making at the moment. As such, these alternatives invariably imitate the savory, umami flavor of the actual fish sauce and leave an exotic touch to every dish they are a part of.

Not only this but they are also loaded with numerous health benefits that can keep illnesses at bay. Well, before we delve into the world of the various fish sauce alternative present across the globe, let’s see what exactly is meant by vegan fish sauce.

Vegan Fish Sauce- What Are They?

fish sauce substitute

While a fish sauce is made from salted anchovies or any other fish that is fermented for about two years, a good vegan fish sauce substitute is prepared by fermenting soya beans and huge amounts of salt together. The broth is usually simmered and then reduced, eventually leaving a very concentrated flavor at the end. These sauces are usually made from soy sauce, seaweed, mushrooms, and various other vegan ingredients that help create a doppelganger for the traditional fish sauce.

The market of vegan fish sauce in US is mainly anticipated for the expansion at a CAGR of 8.9% mainly during the time frame ranging from 2023-2033. The market is also likely to grow and cover 67.8 million USD in 2023 and may shoot up to 146.5 million USD by 2033. As per to the report of FMI, the sales of vegan fish sauce are being estimated worldwide to be USD 598.6 million mainly for the current year.

Top 10 Vegan Fish Sauce Substitutes

When you need an Asian-inspired fish sauce to boost your culinary efforts but one that is vegan-friendly, then go for these substitutes that work wonders when used generously:-

1. Soy Sauce

soy sauce
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One of the popular vegan fish sauce substitute, Soy sauce is a like a magic wand that invariably encapsulates the very taste, texture, and color of the traditional fish sauce. A readily available item, it is made from fermented soybeans, salt, wheat, and water. This sauce indubitably possesses the same flavor and amino acids as that of an actual fish sauce and hence works as a great alternative for vegans.

Soy sauce has a lot of umami flavor and is extremely salty. Although it does not contain the earthiness and tangy flavor of a fish sauce, it indeed brings a whole lot of different flavor to the dish that is extremely hard to resist.

Apart from its culinary contributions, Soy sauce is also loaded with health benefits ranging from aiding in better digestion to protecting against the damages caused by free radicals.

Ways to Substitute

For substitution, you’ll need soy sauce and certain flavor boosters such as brown sugar, rice vinegar, and lime juice. You can swap fish sauce with soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio.

Ingredients

  • Brown Rice
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Lime juice

Preparation

Mix all the ingredients together and bring the liquid to a boil. Simmer until it reduces to half and let it thicken. Your soy sauce look-alike will be ready.

If what you’re looking for involves a complex flavor, then add a few drops of lime juice or rice vinegar and whisk them in brown sugar. It will lend a tangier flavor similar to that of a fish sauce.

2. Tamari

tamari
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A vegan fish sauce substitute, Tamari is another alternative that is used far and wide. Resembling more like soy sauce, this humble item is actually made with miso paste. This gives a more umami flavor to tamari and reduces its saltiness. Since most of the variants of this substitute are wheat-and gluten-free, they can easily be consumed by people with gluten sensitivity or allergies.

Tamari possesses a rich, dark color that works wonders in salad dressings, soups, curries, dipping sauces, and many other dishes of the same texture. Blessed with numerous minerals, Tamari not only brings a unique taste for you but also aids in keeping illnesses at bay. From helping enhance detoxification in the body to boosting bone health, this item has a lot more in store for you than you know.

Ways to Substitute

You’ll need Tamari for substitution purpose. Use it as a 1:1 substitute, replacing the same amount of fish sauce that your recipe calls for.

Ingredients

  • Vegetable broth
  • Maple Syrup
  • Rice Syrup

Preparation

Mix tamari with ½ cup of vegetable broth, and 3 tbsp maple syrup, rice syrup, and bring all these to a boil. Whisk occasionally to prevent clumps. And your favorite sauce is ready to use.

3. Vegan Oyster Sauce

vegan oyster sauce
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Another vegan fish sauce substitute is Vegan Oyster sauce. Made with mushroom extracts, typically oyster or shiitake mushrooms, this alternative can switch up things in no time. While purchasing it, if the label does not state it as vegetarian or vegan oyster sauce, then look for the one that is labeled as a mushroom stir-fry sauce. It can be used interchangeably.

This item is one of the closest in taste to that of a fish sauce and can be used in most recipes as an ideal substitute. Vegan oyster sauce possesses a slightly thicker consistency and is somewhat syrupy in texture. It is also much sweeter and caramelly than fish sauce, therefore, choose this option wisely in any cuisine.

Rich in iron and zinc, this humble oyster sauce suitable for vegans also brings numerous health benefits to the table. It not only helps boost immunity but also aids in combating age-related issues.

Ways to Substitute

For substituting, you need to have prepared oyster mushroom, olive oil, soy sauce or salt if needed. You can replace the fish sauce with half the amount of oyster sauce. Add a dash of salt or soy sauce to round out the extra sweetness. You can also add water to mellow the sweetness or change the consistency.

Ingredients

  • Soy Sauce
  • Oyster Mushroom
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil

Preparation

Mix soy sauce, oyster mushroom, salt and olive oil in a pan and keep on whisking till you get a nice mixture and consistency. At the end, transfer it to a clean jar, let it cool and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks.

4. Seaweed

sea weed
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Seaweed is a great vegan fish sauce substitute which is an umbrella term being used for algae and plants grown in water. This item can be found in fresh or dried form. While fresh seaweed works best in sauces, salads, and broths, the dried variant can be used in dishes that call for a strong earthy, umami flavor. Seaweeds are salty naturally but are not intense as any fish sauce.

Nori (dried seaweed) and Kombu (available in either fresh or dried form) make one of the best vegan fish sauce substitute. With an exotic, marine flavor, seaweeds are a good option for vegans and vegetarians alike.

Nutritionally dense, this humble item is high in amino acid glutamate and fiber which has benefits for the body. Seaweeds not only promote satiety but also help repair tissues since it is rich in protein.

Ways to Substitute

For substituting, get hold of dried seaweed (sheets or flakes), soy sauce, or salt if needed. Here, the type of seaweed chosen would determine the process. If sheets are being used, then simmer them in a small amount of water to extract their flavor until a concentrated concoction becomes handy. It can then be seasoned with soy sauce per one’s liking.

On the other hand, if you’re using flakes, go for a stir-fry method or just sprinkle them on your soup.

Ingredients

  • Dried seaweed
  • Soy Sauce
  • Salt

Preparation

Mix dried seaweed, soy sauce and salt and blend them together. Let it cool and finally transfer it to a clean jar. You can store it in a refrigerator for further use.

5. Coconut Aminos

coconut aminos
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Extracted from fermented coconut sap, Coconut aminos are another vegan fish sauce substitute that you can go for in most of your dishes. This salty-sweet sauce is rich in umami flavor and possesses a dark color. It is somewhat slightly sweeter than soy and fish sauce. The substitute is also fat-free than many other options. It makes a good alternative for vegans or vegetarians across the globe.

The best part about coconut aminos is that they are gluten and soy free, which makes them a good alternative for people with wheat or soy allergy.

The low sodium in these aminos is beneficial for the body, especially for people who suffer from high blood pressure. They also contain anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-microbial properties apart from aiding in boosting heart health.

Ways to Substitute

Take coconut aminos and salt for substitution. Replace fish sauce with coconut aminos at a 1:1 ratio in the recipe of your choice. You can add more salt if needed as aminos are a bit lower on sodium levels. Also, if the sauce is too sweet for you, then try adding a dash of soy sauce to it.

6. Mushroom Broth

mushroom broth
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Blessed with an earthy flavor, mushroom broths are one of the most luscious vegan fish sauce substitutes. An umami-filled alternative, they taste heavenly especially when used in soups and sauces. Although using mushroom broths requires extra effort and preparation than other options, the end result is worth the wait, when your platter gets loaded with an exotic taste and texture.

While making the broth, if at all you wish to enhance its flavor profile, add one or two sheets of dried seaweed. Also, keep in mind that if you want to make an intensely flavored broth, dried mushrooms work better than fresh ones since they possess a dense flavor than their counterpart.

Mushroom broths are not only appetizing but are also extremely nutritious. They support memory and boost digestive, gut, and bone health apart from protecting the liver and lowering cholesterol.

Ways to Substitute

For substitution, get hold of dried shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, dried seaweed, and other seasonings. Use half a cup of dried mushrooms and a few inches of seaweed per two cups of water. Combine them and simmer until reduced halfway and remove the solids. Then add other seasonings and soy sauce.

As for the replacement ratio for fish sauce, it depends on you since broth varies per their concentration.

7. Vegan Fish Sauce

vegan fish sauce
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A delectable fish sauce alternative, vegan fish sauce is a popular substitute used across the globe. Usually prepared from shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, seaweed, and liquid aminos, this is a great plant-based option for people following a vegan or vegetarian diet. With a similar flavor as that of a traditional fish sauce, these are readily available at grocery stores, or you can make one of your own easily at home.

This richly colored sauce can be used in various recipes as a seasoning agent or a dipping sauce.

Vegan fish sauce not only adds a great umami flavor to the dishes but even holds several health benefits. They also serve as a good option for those who are looking to cut down on fat as this substitute does not contain fat in it.

Ways to Substitute

To substitute, you’ll need a vegan fish sauce bought from a store or one that is prepared at home. You can substitute vegan fish sauce at a 1:1 ratio for the actual fish sauce.

8. Vegan Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce
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A dark-colored, extremely flavorful item, the Vegan Worcestershire sauce is a vegan fish sauce substitute that is an apt option. Though there are variants of this sauce that contain anchovies which makes them non-vegan, the vegan varieties are present too, that can be bought from stores, or better, you can make one of your own at home. With its strong, savory flavor, this alternative can add a drizzle to your dish in a whole new way.

The humble item is known to add rich color to the recipes they are used in apart from lending a great umami flavor. Since the vegan Worcestershire sauce has fewer calories, it can help in weight loss. This variant is also low in sodium than the actual Worcestershire sauce, making them a healthier option.

Ways to Substitute

To substitute, you’ll need a vegan Worcestershire sauce. For substituting fish sauce, use half an amount of this vegan sauce and then adjust accordingly.

9. Liquid Aminos

liquid aminos
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Another popular vegan fish sauce substitute is Liquid aminos. Gluten-free, this substitute has more in it than what meets the eye. Made by fermenting soybeans with salt, this alternative possesses a savory taste that is similar to that of soy sauce. Some of the varieties are also made from coconut sap. With a mild and sweet flavor, the item can ratchet up any dish in a second without much ado.

The liquid aminos have lower sodium content, so when they get used in any recipe, it is advised to check the salt and add some if necessary.

Apart from bringing an earthy flavor to the dishes, these aminos are also blessed with several health benefits. Being a great source of amino acids, they help in the synthesis of body protein. Not only this but they are also known to reduce hunger and boost the metabolism of the body.

Ways to Substitute

For substitution, you need to have liquid aminos. You can use this alternative in a 1:1 ratio to fish sauce.

10. Miso Paste

miso paste
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Another renowned vegan fish sauce substitute is Miso Paste. This paste is made by mixing koji (soy or cultured rice) with soybeans and salt. The mixture is then left to ferment, usually for a long time which eventually determines the different variety that gets produced.

While its variant, white miso is mild and takes up the least fermentation time, red miso is stronger and ferments for a longer time. With a salty and deep umami flavor, the paste works as an ideal substitute for fish sauce.

This alternative like other substitutes has a lot of nutritional benefits ranging from enhanced immune function to reducing the chances of certain cancer types apart from supporting gut health.

Ways to Substitute

For substitution, you’ll be needing miso paste (use red variety, if possible), and warm water. You can use the 1:2 ratios to begin with, replacing the quantity of fish sauce that your recipe calls for with twice the quantity of miso paste.

Since this paste is thicker than the fish sauce, whisk it well with warm water so that it can easily get used in any cuisine for which you’ve put your mittens on.

As such, these are some of the most popular substitutes for fish sauce, which can be used in various cuisines. However, no matter which alternative you choose for your dish, try to use them sparingly in the first go. Since they are all quite concentrated, you might end up over salting the cuisine.

Also Read: Is Glue Vegan? Are Adhesives Still Made From Horses?

Things to Keep in Mind While Choosing a Vegan Alternative to Fish Sauce

Well, with numerous options to choose from, comes the hard task of deciding the best vegan to fish sauce substitute that can serve your purpose. As such, we have mentioned some of the points you must keep in mind while choosing the vegan fish sauce substitute.

Choose those alternatives whose viscosity matches that of an actual fish sauce if you are preparing a dish where the texture matters. However, if the texture is not an important element in that particular cuisine, such as in the case of marinades, the paste-style texture would work too.

Although most of the time, you won’t be much concerned about matching the color of the traditional fish sauce, they still play a crucial role in some of the dishes that you might want to make. So, if your cuisine is dependent on deep, caramel coloring, choose a fish sauce alternative that is similar in color. Substitutes like soy sauce, coconut aminos, tamari, etc., can bring such matching colors to the tables.

If the dish for which you’ve put your mittens on is dependent on a flavor similar to the actual fish sauce, then go for alternatives that lend you the same feeling, like seaweed. However, if that very flavor is what you’re trying to avoid, then choose other substitutes that are just salty, savory, and devoid of the funk.

  • Sodium Level

Usually, traditional fish sauce is extremely salty, all the more salty than soy sauce. So, if you’re on the quest to bring that amount of salt level to your dish, select those vegetarian fish sauce alternatives that match your need. However, carefully take into account other salty ingredients used in the cuisine, since certain food items such as noodles, roasted nuts or seasoned veggies cooked in salt water can amp up the salt content in a bizarre way.

Ways To Make Homebased Vegan Fish Sauce Substitute

The best part about homemade vegan fish sauce substitute is that you have complete control over the ingredients being used and can also keep in check the umami flavor and the saltiness of the sauce per your liking. As such, follow these simple steps to make your very own vegan-based fish sauce at your place.

Ingredients used

  • Water
  • Dulse flake (derived from red seaweed)
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Soy Sauce
  • White Miso

Steps

cooking pot
  • Heat a cooking pot over a medium flame. Add water, shiitake mushroom, dulse flake, pepper, garlic, and salt.
  • Let it boil. At this point, reduce the flame and let the mixture simmer for about twenty-five minutes or till the time the concoction is reduced to half
  • Strain the prepared mixture. Use a sieve for straining and let it cool
  • Now, add about one teaspoon of white miso and two tablespoons of soy sauce. Whisk them. Taste the mixture and add more salt, soy sauce, or miso if required.
miso paste
  • You’re vegan fish sauce alternative is now ready. Store the homemade sauce in an air-tight container. You can even bottle it up. It will stay the same for up to three weeks.
  • While serving, add sliced garlic, and pepper flakes. Make sure to shake the jar before you use it.

Note

  • If you wish to have a more umami flavor added to the sauce, use half a cup of dried shiitake mushrooms when simmering the mixture.
  • To make a sweeter sauce, add maple syrup or a certain amount of coconut sugar.
  • You can go for tamari or coconut aminos in place of soy sauce.
  • Instead of white miso, you can also choose dark-aged miso if you wish to drizzle your dish with an intense flavor.

Tips to Make Vegan Fish Sauce Substitute and How to Use it in Cooking

When it comes to the cooking, vegan and vegetarian, the developers recipe mainly offers several opinions on how to prepare vegan fish sauce, some more successful than others. America’s Test Kitchen recommends combining soy sauce, salt, dried shiitake, water, and mushrooms, or simply swap fish sauce for soy sauce, one by one.

Here are some of the tips that you can follow to make successful vegan fish sauce alternative at home:-

  • If you want to reduce the saltiness of the sauce, skip using miso.
  • To get a full-bodied flavor, add coconut aminos in your sauce.
  • You must store the prepared sauce in a sealed jar container.

Ways to Use Vegan Fish Sauce in Cooking

Now, that you are aware of the vegan fish sauce alternative; let us now see, in what ways it can be included in your cooking endeavors.

As such, these substitutes are a great accompaniment to many Asian dishes like:-

  • Authentic pad Thai
  • Vietnamese dipping sauce
  • Stir Fry
  • Thai dipping sauce
  • Curry
  • Thai noodle salad
  • Fried Rice
  • Lettuce Wraps

However, apart from these, they can also be used in other cuisines such as:-

  • Soups
  • Salsa
  • Chili
  • Pickled veggies
  • Pasta sauce
  • Grilled veggies
  • Salad dressing
  • Homemade barbeque sauce
  • Stews
  • Dips and marinades 

Storage Tips for Vegan Fish Sauce

The storage of the vegetarian fish sauce depends on how frequently you consume the sauce. If the sauce at your home gets consumed faster, then it can be kept at room temperature right next to the stove.

However, if you’re an occasional user, keep the item open in the fridge or store it in a cool and dark place. This should be done because the flavor of the sauce deteriorates over time and becomes extra pungent with its color becoming visibly darker. Keeping them in a cold and dark place reduces this pace of deterioration.

Top Vegan Fish Sauce Substitute Brand

Apart from making your very own vegan fish sauce substitute at home, you can also make use of some of the commercial options from top vegan brands.

Well, listed below are some of the brands you can opt for:-

1. Bragg Liquid Aminos All Purpose Seasoning

A great alternative to fish sauce, Bragg Liquid has come up with Bragg Liquid Aminos All Purpose Seasoning that can ratchet up your dish. Gluten-free, this item is also kosher and completely vegan that can be used as a seasoning to your favorite dishes.

Buy it on Amazon here

2. Coconut Secret, Organic Liquid Coconut Aminos

Coconut Secret Organic Liquid Coconut Aminos is yet another option that you can avail of if you’re looking for a readymade vegan fish sauce alternative. With a tangy flavor, this substitute is sure to drizzle your dishes in a whole new way.

Buy it on Amazon here

3. Thai Kitchen Gluten Free Premium Fish Sauce

Thai Kitchen’s Premium Fish sauce is ready-to-use ingredient that has garnered much attention over time. Gluten-free, this item is made with sea salt and can be used as a seasoning as and when required depending upon the type of dish being made.

Buy it on Amazon here

4. Kevin’s Natural Foods Keto and Paleo Simmer Sauce

With a Paleo and Keto certification, Kevin’s Natural Foods Keto and Paleo Simmer Sauce can be your next best bet if you’re looking for a vegan fish sauce substitute. A Non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms), this item is also gluten, soy and dairy-free. It is even devoid of preservatives.

Buy it on Amazon here

5. Lucky Brand Thai Fish Sauce

Lucky’s Thai Fish Sauce is a luscious option for you if you’re looking for a delectable vegan fish sauce alternative. MSG-free (Monosodium Glutamate), this substitute contains Anchovy extract that further adds to its taste and texture.

Buy it on Amazon here

6. Three Crabs Brand Fish Sauce

Another alternative that you can go for is Three Crabs Brand Fish Sauce that possesses an enticing flavor and texture. A great substitute, it can add to your occasion in a whole new way.

Buy it on Amazon here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is a vegan fish sauce substitute?

Answer: There exist several vegan fish sauce alternatives, but some of the most popular are soy sauce, tamari, oyster sauce, seaweed, and coconut amino.

2. What can be deemed as one of the best vegan fish sauce alternatives?

Answer: Although various fish sauce substitutes are present in the market; one that almost always steals the show is soy sauce.

3. How long does a vegan fish sauce last?

Answer: Vegan alternative to the fish sauce can last for about a month if kept in a sealed container in the fridge or if kept in the freezer, it can stay up to two to three months.

4. Does vegan fish sauce have a similar taste to that of an actual fish sauce?

Answer: No, the fish sauce substitute might have a bit of a different taste than a traditional fish sauce but it does contain a somewhat similar flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes.

5. What is vegan fish sauce made of?

Answer: The condensed broth of a vegan fish sauce is made up of fermenting soya beans and salt together, which is then simmered and reduced to half, which leaves a thick consistency afterward.

6. What is the usual flavor of vegan fish sauce?

Answer: The usual fish sauce involves a high umami flavor in them that help add depth to the cuisine they are used in while cooking.

7. Are vegan fish sauces healthy?

Answer: Vegan fish sauce substitutes are a healthy addition to one’s diet since they contain several nutrients required by the body. However, one must be careful of the intake as some of these alternatives are high in sodium which can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Therefore, moderate consumption is recommended.

8. Does vegetarian fish sauce go bad?

Answer: Yes. Although these sauces contain salt that acts as a good preservative, eventually the sauce goes bad and loses its flavor over time.

9. What is the color of vegan fish sauce?

Answer: The color of vegan fish sauce alternatives differ from each other. However, mostly they are of rich dark color.

10. Can vegan fish sauce be made at home?

Answer: Yes, you can prepare your own vegan fish sauce at home with the help of mushrooms, soy sauce, miso paste and salt.

Final Thoughts (Takeaway)

If you’re trying to make any cuisine that needs a vegan fish sauce substitute, you can get started with any of the mentioned alternatives from the listicle. Sideways, you can also try and make these sauces at home per your liking. While some will add a rich salty, umami flavor to your dishes, others will help you evade the fishy aftertaste.

Salty and savory, the fish sauce alternatives will invariably add to your taste and make your palate go gaga with each morsel. You can relish and get going with these options and make a sumptuous item right from the comfort of your home.

So what are you looking for?

Get going, lay your hands on these vegan sauces, and steal the show right away!

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Source: Theminimalistvegan.com