HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Substitute for fish sauce

I'd like to make the Brussels Sprouts Kimchi recipe in the September 2013 issue of Bon Appetit. It calls for fish sauce. I am allergic to fish and shellfish. What would be a reasonable substitute?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Worcestershire cut with some soy might work....but I think Worcestershire has some anchovy in it

    1 Reply
    1. re: FriedClamFanatic

      Normally it does, but vegan Worcestershire wouldn't.

    2. There was an excellent discussion on this topic a couple of years ago. See in particular the response from hannaone who is an expert on Korean food and cooking.


      1. From the Wiki article on kimchi

        'Kimchi from the northern parts of Korea tend to have less salt, less red chilli and usually do not have brined seafood for seasoning. Northern kimchi often has a watery consistency. Kimchi made in the southern parts of Korea, such as Jeolla-do and Gyeongsang-do, uses salt, chili peppers and myeolchijeot (hangul: 멸치젓, brined anchovy allowed to ferment) or saeujeot (hangul: 새우젓, brined shrimp allowed to ferment), myeolchiaekjeot (Hangul: 멸치액젓, "kkanariaekjeot" 까나리액젓, liquid anchovy jeot, similar to fish sauce used in Southeast Asia, but thicker).'

        1. The fish sauce or shrimp sauce is the main ingredient for its pungent taste. However, I would try chicken bouillon or chicken powder as a substitute, Chicken powder is sold in most Chinatown or I believe you can also order online. Let us know how it goes.

            1. Here's the recipe
              (it's always easier to make rational recommendations if we can read the recipe, rather than just guessing


              for 1.5 lb of sprouts, it calls for 2T fish sauce, 1T soy sauce, 1/4 c of red pepper powder, 2T Sriracha.

              1. Annie makes a vegan Worcestershire sauce that would be a decent substitute

                1. Does your allergy extend to Kelp and seaweeds?

                  If not, you can make a kelp broth and add some salt for a substitute.

                  While many kimchi recipes call for fish sauce or a shrimp paste, you can easily leave these out and add more salt, and a bit of rice flour to aid the fermentation process.

                  The flavor will change somewhat but I personally like kimchi better without the fish flavor.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hannaone

                    I can consume kelp and seaweed. Good idea. Thanks!

                  2. i know some are fans of soy-based bragg's amino liquid for its umami. http://www.bragg.com/products/la.html

                    1. Fish sauce is basically like MSG. The fermentation of the anchovy creates glutamic acid, which gives it an "umami" flavor. MSG is made from some kind of seaweed. I would just mix some MSG in with some soy sauce, and perhaps a drop or two of sesame oil if you have it. Fish sauce has kind of a nutty/cheesy smell to it - it's pretty raunchy by itself, but blends into dishes. Maybe even one of those flavoring packets that come with Ramen noodles, mixed with some soy sauce would work too. Another thing that came to mind was nutritional yeast. I've never tried that personally though.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Atomic76

                        Good Nhi Fish sauce is pretty delicious straight up.