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Dec 16, 2012 08:05 AM

Is there a good substitution for Fish sauce?

Hi fellow food lovers,

We are making a homemade Pad Kee Mao. Our first time to make fresh pasta for a thai dish so we are really excited.

Problem is I really am not the biggest fan of fish and oyster sauce. They are huge for thai sauces. I was wondering if anyone knows of a decent substitution for fish or oyster sauce in a dish?

Thanks for your help!

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  1. Not really the same but, when I've not had fish sauce, I've used soy. No doubt, purists will say it spoils the "authenticity" but I'm not a purist. To my taste, it adds the same savouryness.

    1. Try anchovy paste. It may be just my sense of taste, but I find soy sauce to be completely overpowering, even in very small quantities.

      1. Worcestershire sauce. I'm a bloody mary maniac, and when out of Worcestershire sauce, I've used fish sauce successfully.

        5 Replies
          1. re: kezdenek

            I second that anti-fish sauce stance and have also successfully substituted Worcestershire sauce.

            1. re: LJS

              Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies.

              Unless you're a vegan, forget Thai food without fish sauce.

              And before you forsake it altogether, try Red Boat, which is noticeably better than average.

              1. re: knucklesandwich

                Thanks knucklesandwich. I'll give it a try.

                1. re: knucklesandwich

                  There are excellent vegan Worcestershire sauces.

          2. If you have an Chinese/Asian market near you, you can probably find this, there are many different brands.


            1 Reply
            1. re: mrbigshotno.1

              Very helpful. Thank you so much. I will look for this.

            2. No decent substitute in my book. If you don't like fish sauce, I don't see why you're interested in a Thai dish that calls for it.

              Worcestershire? No. Soy with some anchovy paste & a squeeze of fresh lime juice? Maybe. But if you're going to add anchovy paste, you might as well use the fish sauce. And so little fish sauce is used in a dish (much like soy), that I don't understand how it can be offensive. Same for Oyster Sauce. Most dishes only call for a tablespoon or so in a dish containing a multitude of ingredients.

              But personal preference always prevails in my book. If I were you, I'd choose another dish that doesn't call for ingredients you strongly dislike.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Bacardi1


                This is exactly how I feel. If you don't like fish sauce, why make a dish where fish sauce is a primary seasoning?

                1. re: Bacardi1

                  I agree entirely. Fish sauce is the very essence of Thai cookery.

                  My head is spinning at the thought of Worcestershire sauce in Pad Kee Mao.

                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    I share your opinion. There just are some things that do not have a substitute or equivalent in my opinion.

                    1. re: chefathome

                      Yup. Hate being the authenticity jerkwad, but fish sauce is different. If you don't like it, there's really no substitute. I'd just add extra salt.

                      1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                        I also think that fish sauce's smell on its own can be off-putting, but in a dish it's a whole different animal.

                  2. re: Bacardi1

                    Agree,there is no fish sauce substitute,and soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce are not even close.

                    Try it, develop a taste for it.

                    1. re: skshrews

                      Not even tamarind paste would make Worcestershire sauce into a substitution for fish sauce.

                      I have a bottle of 3Crabs.