If you’re a vegetarian interested in experimenting with Thai cuisine, then you will have to find an alternative to fish sauce. It’s in almost every dish and is really essential to imparting the salty element of the four flavours of Thai cuisine: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. However, it’s more than just a salty taste that fish sauce brings to a dish, it’s also adds umami and a depth of flavour which is hard to replicate with vegetarian ingredients. The most commonly recommended substitution for fish sauce is soy sauce. While it does replicate the saltiness, it’s missing the deep earthy flavour of true fish sauce. Here I’ll share some of the alternatives to fish sauce that I’ve seen around on the internet. Then I’ll share with you the recipe that I have found to be the best alternative to fish sauce.
1. soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio
2. two parts vegetable stock to 1 part soy sauce
3. two parts soy sauce to one part lime juice
4. 1 tbsp soy sauce and ½ tsp miso paste
While the substitutions above would do in a pinch, I prefer to take a little time to prepare a large batch of the following recipe because it keeps well in the refrigerator for quite a long time and I can just pull it out whenever I need it for a dish. While the ingredients are not readily available in your local supermarket, they are not impossible to find in big cities or on the internet. Wakame, miso, and shiitake mushrooms are easily found in Asian supermarkets, organic supermarkets, and occasionally in health food stores. It’s worth it to look around for these ingredients as this recipe is the closest I’ve tasted to actual fish sauce.