Severe Food Allergy; Looking for a fish sauce substitute.
Because of my husbands sever seafood allergy I can't cook anything with fish sauce. There are a few dishes that call for very little fish sauce so I use soy sauce in its place. But I know soy sauce isn't real as rich as fish sauce and would love to find a better substitute so that I can make more asian dishes.
There are several things you can do with soy sauce to "enrich" it.
Add some sweetener - sugar, corn syrup, honey, or a sweet fruit (peach, sweet apple, asian pear, etc), usually in a 1 part sweetener to 2 parts soy sauce.
Soak some dried mushrooms (shiitake works very well) in the soy sauce, the soy sauce will gain a subtle mushroom flavor.
Puree some garlic, chile peppers, or other herb or vegetable and mix with the soy sauce, or simmer some soy sauce with these items.
Add a bit of miso or doenjjang (Korean Miso) to a sweetened soy sauce.
Simmer some beef, chicken, or pork in the soy sauce with a touch of sesame oil.
Experiment with different things until you find one (or several) that you like.
The salt content will keep any of these modifications pretty well, but it's always a good idea to refrigerate the modified sauce.
I'd opt for the darkest soy or mushroom soy sauce I could find. There are a few different brands to choose, but they're definitely rich and give a wonderful flavor. I make Thai lettuce wraps and use my beloved fish sauce, my boys however, make the same Thai wraps but they omit the fish sauce, they're still wonderfully flavorful. When you're using ginger, garlic, scallions, garlic chili paste, lime, dark soy, sesame oil, etc., you will not miss it. Really.
I know this is way after the fact:) But fish sauce does not contain any shellfish. Is your husband allergic to fish? Fish sauce NEVER contains shellfish. It may on occasions contain wheat or vegetable protein. I personally avoid these brands. Fish sauce is made with anchovies, salt and sugar. Just thought I would mention it. My daughter is SEVERELY allergic to shellfish and has eaten fish sauce her entire life......
For the purest version of fish sauce (no MSG, hydrolized stuff), go with Red Boat.
If truly allergic to shellfish and fish, there is a veggie version out there. Big vietnamese vegetarian community and I've been to a few hardcore vietnamese vegan restaurants that serve veggie fish sauce or look for nuoc mam chay.
I don't use fish sauce in my cooking, so take this suggestion with a grain of salt please.
I'm allergic to soy. I sometimes use marmite thinned with water as a soy sauce substitute. Perhaps this would work?