Thai & Vietnamese

Vegetarian Fish Sauce

Vegetarian Fish Sauce

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.

Vegetarian Fish Sauce

Vegetarian Fish Sauce

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes



  • 3/4 cup wakame seaweed
  • 4 – 5 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed but not peeled
  • 1/2 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon red miso paste


  1. In a large pot combine wakame, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, peppercorns, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain out the solids and return the liquid to the pot along with the soy sauce. Boil until the volume is reduced by half to about 1 1/2 cups. Remove from heat and add the miso.

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  • Reply
    Cathy J. Kincaid
    May 25, 2016 at 12:42 am

    Thank you!

    • Reply
      November 2, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks for the recipe. I can’t eat fish as I no longer have the enzymes needed to digest fish. I’ll try this and freeze in cubes as it would take me a long timeto use this up.

      • Reply
        November 3, 2016 at 10:53 am

        Great idea!

    • Reply
      July 8, 2019 at 12:15 am

      Hi i was wondering where to buy the tamarind sauce?

      • Reply
        July 8, 2019 at 3:36 pm

        At an Asian grocer or even large supermarkets in the ethnic food aisle.

  • Reply
    October 18, 2017 at 1:17 am

    Just the recipe I was looking for! Thanks for sharing❤ Is wakame the dried one?

    • Reply
      October 21, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      Yes, it´s dried

      • Reply
        November 9, 2017 at 9:18 pm


  • Reply
    January 31, 2018 at 11:51 am

    I’ve been hoping for a good recipe for a vegan version of fish sauce- so glad to have stumbled upon this. Looking forward to trying. Many thanks !

  • Reply
    May 5, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Hi! Do you know how long can you keep in a fridge? Can I just make enough for a year? Or is it going to go bad? Thanks!

  • Reply
    Leticia Fletes
    August 17, 2019 at 6:07 am

    Great recipe THANKS! I DON’T EAT ANIMALS! I LOOOVE THAI FOOD, so this recipe allows me to create/cook many plates vegan and/ or vegetarian dishes. I am almost a vegan now because i CAN NOT bear to think or be part of the systematic cruelty to the billions of innocent brutally mutilated tortured then killed animal

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