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Substitute for Fish Sauce?

I'm not a fan of the fishy flavors, but would really like to try "Momofuku's Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette" and am wondering if there is any appropriate substitute for the fish sauce in the vinaigrette?

asked by Celestyyne over 4 years ago
8 answers 2885 views
82bc15be d3cf 410a 9b82 665e7b26bd26  1081
Stephanie Bourgeois

Stephanie is the Head Recipe Tester of Food52.

added over 4 years ago

You can try soy sauce, but it won't be quite the same. You will get a similar salty, full flavor. You may also want to investigate different brands of fish sauce. Many of the ones that have fermented for a long time don't taste "fishy" while other brands can smell a little funky.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 4 years ago

Great, thank you for the advice!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 4 years ago

Great, thank you for the advice!

516f887e 3787 460a bf21 d20ef4195109  bigpan
added over 4 years ago

Fish sauce does not have a substitute, but the fishy smell is only in the bottle - when you combine with other ingredients you get the taste that is desired for the recipe. Otherwise chefs would not suggest it!

25438297 7c5f 449f 85c8 6d14e78bbcc4  susan.streit

Susan is a Recipe Tester for Food52

added over 4 years ago

Fish sauce has a very complex flavor, so any substitute will yield a very different flavor. I would start with a reduced-sodium soy or tamari sauce in place of the fish sauce.

0bc70c8a e153 4431 a735 f23fb20dda68  sarah chef

Sarah is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 4 years ago

I'm going to add my encouragement to try the recipe with fish sauce anyway - if you've ever had Thai, Vietnamese or other SE Asian cooking chances are nearly 100% that you've already had tablespoonfuls of the stuff. It's a critical balancing element in the hot/sour/salty/sweet nature of these cuisines. Yes, it smells horrible, but takes on an entirely different characteristic when added to food.

The vinaigrette is basically a nuoc cham - so you're making a Vietnamese dipping sauce, the same kind you get for spring rolls at your local pho joint.

As others have said, soy or tamari can replicate the salty component but it really adds a different flavour entirely to the dish and takes away from the light & fresh element that a nuoc cham provides.

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added over 4 years ago

Thank you for the detailed response! I've found that I really enjoy most Thai that I've encountered, but all of the Vietnamese cuisine I've tried has had an underlying unpleasantness for me that has wound down to the fish sauce. I'm sorry to say it's still a taste I haven't acquired.

79ca7fa3 11e3 4829 beae d200649eab49  walken the walk

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 4 years ago

I absolutely agree with Sarah on this. When you open a bottle it smells like something you would use in your garden but when it combines with other foods something magic happens. The same goes for using moderate amounts of chopped anchovies (provided they are good anchovies). Fish sauce is anchovy based. Chopped anchovies added to meat stews will add a "bottom" flavor that doesn't taste fishy and most people won't be able to identify it. Even my anchovy hating sister.

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