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Anybody know a good substitute for fish sauce?

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1philosojerk
Jan 9, 2008, 4:53pm Top

I love to cook Asian food, and often this comes up in recipes, but I'm allergic to seafood. Usually I just leave it out, but then if the meal comes out less than spectacular, I wonder if that's why. Anyone have a suggested replacement?

2margd
Edited: Jan 9, 2008, 5:19pm Top

One of my Thai cookbooks--I think a vegetarian one--suggests salty water. If I find "recipe", I'll post it.

Are you allergic to finfish or just shellfish? If latter, you could dilute anchovy paste in water to be sure no shellfish in your fish sauce. (I think it's made from finfish, but who can be sure?)

For oyster sauce, maybe tamarind paste diluted in soy sauce with sugar and a touch of catsup?

3cabegley
Jan 9, 2008, 5:21pm Top

I would suggest soy sauce--it won't taste quite the same, but you'll still get that saltiness. You might want to check out Real Vegetarian Thai--the sell copy for this cookbook specifically talks about how she eliminates fish sauce. (I don't have the book myself, or I'd flip through to see what she recommends.)

4Yahdley
Jan 9, 2008, 5:23pm Top

I just substituted chicken broth in a recipe for kabosha squash soup (called for shellfish stock) and it came out great. There are some fermented soy type products that can also give a salty tang.

5quartzite
Jan 9, 2008, 5:33pm Top

I cook with all three fish, oyster and soy, and I think soy sauce is probably the best substitute for fish sauce in most recipes.

6twacorbies
Jan 9, 2008, 7:35pm Top

I came up against this problem when I used to be a vegetarian. The suggestions of soy sauce or broth are both good, but nine times out of ten I found it made very little difference to just skip it altogether.

7philosojerk
Jan 10, 2008, 9:42am Top

Wow, thingamabriarians really do know everything! Thanks for all the great suggestions. I ended up going a different direction last night (I tried this - and the chicken was freaking amazing. You can even skip the guac sauce (I did) and just eat the chicken with black beans for an ultra-lean meal and it's delicious), but I'm going to give soy sauce a shot as a substitute, I never even would have thought of that! I've had this recipe for thai barbeque chicken that I've been wanting to make forever, so that'll be my test case :D

8amancine
Jan 10, 2008, 12:31pm Top

That recipe sounds awesome, ph/j - I am definitely going to give it a try.

9lorax
Jan 17, 2008, 6:08pm Top

I'm not vegetarian, but I usually cook vegetarian at home since my partner is. My usual substitute for fish sauce, which I found in one of my cookbooks, is a combination of 2 parts soy sauce and 1 part lime juice; it helps get the rest of the sour complexity of fish sauce that just the salty soy sauce doesn't provide.

For oyster sauce, there's a sauce marketed as "Vegetarian Stirfry Sauce" made from shiitake mushrooms that's quite similar (sold next to the oyster sauce in identically-shaped bottles and everything), providing the same salty/sweet/umami combination.

10Woowoodong
Apr 26, 2012, 12:33pm Top

Halo everyone, Yes Lorax is on the right path as most of you are. Soy Sauce with a citrus twist such as lemon or lime is a good way forward. You can also use tamarind sauce or paste with water instead of the lemon or lime. The other beautiful thing about this, is that its a alkaline additive which our bodies thrive upon. The down side is that vegetarians are depleting the world soy to the point of complete depletion. I use this particular method of Soy and Tamarind when cooking Chicken Curry Pinoy Style. Good Luck and happy quisine :-)

11krolik
Edited: Apr 26, 2012, 2:45pm Top

>9 lorax:
Took the words out of my mouth. Depending on your druthers, you might also consider adding fresh crushed ginger to the mix.

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