Fish sauce is the kind of condiment that you would find to be the perfect oxymoron. It smells terrible yet it makes food taste so, so good. In this article we will discuss about what are the substitute for fish sauce.
You want that kind of condiment to be lathered onto some beef stew or some fish that your mother has brought along with her. But what other condiments can you use in place if for instance, you’ve run out of fish sauce?
First things first. Let’s discuss what fish sauce is.
By fermenting fish, you get fish sauce. It’s as easy as that. The places where they make this stuff en masse isn’t exactly the perfect vacation spot or your olfactory senses. As these manufacturing plants can be smelled from miles away. You’d know a fish sauce factory not when you see it, but when you smell it.
Well, that’s good and all but you’ve come here not to discuss the logistics of how fish sauce is made. But what other substitute for fish sauce is out there that could compete, nay, even beat the pungent yet oddly delicious flavour amplification that fish sauce can provide.
Low Sodium Substitute For Fish Sauce
As delicious as fish sauce may be. It is quite abundant in sodium due to the salts that have been added to accentuate the taste of fermented fish.
Here is a list of sauces and condiments that are low on sodium which you can substitute for fish sauce. Yet will still achieve an almost similar taste:
#1: Soy Sauce
Ah, yes. Soy sauce. We all know what this is. It is the darker cousin of fish sauce not only in terms of colour but flavour as well. Compared to the saltiness and sourness that fish sauce has, soy sauce provides a rather stronger taste. It is somehow bordering around sour and bitter. Which is why when using it as dip, you would prefer not to completely lather a piece of fish fillet, sushi or a handful of chicken meat in it because you are fully aware of the strong taste of soy sauce.
To somehow tame the strong flavour of soy sauce. You can squeeze a bit of lemon into it and drip some vinegar to complement the overall taste of soy sauce. Giving it some zest and more sourness to neutralize its bitterness.
#2: Oyster Sauce
Oyster sauce is not exactly for dipping. But it is more accustomed to cook alongside vegetable mixes, especially the dishes that are of Asian origin. Mostly a common ingredient in Thai or Chinese dishes. Oyster sauce can be mixed in some Western dishes such as Cajun or even Southern US dishes from Philly Fish Steak to even beef tacos!
Surprisingly, oyster sauce provides a different taste; a fifth flavour, if you must. Some culinary experts and chefs accredit oyster sauce to be a good source of the fifth flavour: umami. It is not sweet, sour, salty nor bitter in a sense. The after taste of dishes that have been seasoned properly with oyster sauce provides a savoury taste. That lingers long after you have eaten dishes that have it.
Contrary to fish sauce, oyster sauce is less pungent, more tolerable and more versatile in terms of application. Despite it being made from oysters. It is not constrained to only be limited to seafood, unlike fish sauce that suffers this limitation.
In this regard, using oyster sauce as a substitute for fish sauce should never evade your options.
If you do not know what Tahini is, it is basically sesame seeds that have been grinded to a paste. A ubiquitous condiment in almost all Middle Eastern dishes, tahini is most often applied onto babaganoush and hummus. It has a rather bitter taste yet somehow has a nut-like tinge to it.
Some individuals for odd reasons only known to themselves eat tahini straight from the jar or scooping straight from the cup that comes along with most Middle Eastern fast food joints with either a spoon or with their fingers.
Some do it to suppress their appetites and cravings because of the lingering after taste that tahini has, or some just like the taste of tahini, and would rather eat it as it is to satisfy a guilt-free craving due to it being a healthy type of condiment.
Of course, what list of condiments would be complete without pesto?
It is sauce that the Italians have perfected over centuries to greatly complement their pasta, or at times using it as toppings for their soup.
As the Italian cuisines have made their way across the globe, pesto has garnered a significant following in terms of its application.
For those who are health-conscious, seeing pesto as a low-sodium substitute for fish sauce is due to a simple reason: pesto is made from fresh vegetables that anyone can make from scratch.
From scratch, you say? Yes!
Pesto, in the traditional sense, is made by placing extra virgin oil in a mortar and with a pestle grounded to a paste alongside pine nuts, parmesan, basil and garlic.
Some prefer to add other ingredients to the mix such as spices like Cayenne pepper and ground black pepper to add a bit of kick to the base flavour of pesto, but whatever the case, pesto is that gooey green composition that you would often find topped into pasta alfredo or fettuccine.
But it can be used as dip, too!
Whether you are simply eating some fish sticks or even chicken, dipping these meats into pesto is quite appetizing!
And lastly, #5: Anchovies
Not exactly on top of anyone’s list as to what could be an ideal substitute for fish sauce, anchovies are not certainly sauce.
The sort that we are referring to are the anchovies that come from jars that are tightly sealed with airtight lids. The oils of these jarred anchovies provide an almost identical taste reminiscent of what you would find in fish sauce.
In closing, there are a lot of substitutes that you can work with when you have run out of fish sauce. From soy sauce to pesto, you will always have a wide selection of substitute for fish sauce which you can choose from!