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Old 07-24-2012, 04:28 PM   #1
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Fish sauce sub?

Hi everyone. I'm a newbie here.
I found this interesting site while googling for substiutions for fish sauce. If you're a fan of Asian food, you'll understand where I'm coming from. Though I think fish sauce is delicious, the smell just doesn't agree with me at all so I'm looking for a possible substitute because omitting it completely, which I have been doing, leaves my recipe seeming like something's missing. I was wondering if a dollop of anchovie paste would work instead of the fish sauce?

Any advice would be much appreciated. Nice to meet you all.

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Old 07-24-2012, 04:46 PM   #2
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Mash up a few anchovies and mix them with couple of TBS of rice vinegar.
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Old 07-24-2012, 04:48 PM   #3
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How about oyster sauce?
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:01 PM   #4
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Fish sauce comes in an almost infinite variety. I suggest you should try a different fish sauce. Fish sauces vary by countries too. It seems to me that fish sauce from Vietnam is much stronger smelling than Thai fish sauce. Also, look for a clear fish sauce, not one with little fishes floating in it.

My favorite nam pla (fish sauce) is Cock brand from Thailand, has very little aroma, and an appearance of clear dark tea.

I have a few more robust fish sauces including with little fish inside but I generally use my favorite brand for most Thai cooking.

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Originally Posted by Sir_Loin_of_Beef View Post
Mash up a few anchovies and mix them with couple of TBS of rice vinegar.
Might be worth a try. Perhaps better, just use anchovy paste.

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Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
How about oyster sauce?
Oyster sauce isn't really anything like fish sauce. It has a thick kind of smoky taste and lots of soy (which may or may not go with the recipe).
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:20 PM   #5
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I can't stand anything fishy tasting, but I have no problem with fish sauce. I just make sure I don't get a good whiff of it before I add it to a dish. It really is a necessary ingredient in the Asian stuff I make.
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:41 PM   #6
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I wonder if dashi (Japanese powdered fish stock) could be used... It is generally made from fermented bonito and other ingredients (probably MSG). It has a mild but fishy taste.

Here's an interesting article (worth reading) on fish sauce:

Fish sauce - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I've often faced the issue of fish sauce substitutes in communicating my Thai recipes to other Thai enthusiasts, but the issue is usually that they don't have any local sources for it.
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:44 PM   #7
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Hmm. Or just Bonito flakes.
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:44 PM   #8
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Some things have no good substitute. Fish sauce is one of those.
I, for one, love the smell. Fish sauce has to be one of my favorite condiments and ingredients.
My suggestion, instead of trying substitutes just hold your nose while you cook with it. Otherwise that foundational SE Asian flavor will always be missing from the dish.
Bonito flakes don't have the super-savory, deep, salty, fermented, complex flavor that fish sauce has, in my opinion.
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:48 PM   #9
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+1
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:02 PM   #10
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I believe in tasting all my ingredients, no matter what cuisine. I've tasted my fish sauce that I recommended above and it smelled and tasted milder than I suspected, and wasn't bad at all. Now the fish sauce with the anchovies floating around inside looks pretty nasty and I'm not sure I'll want to try that. And crab paste... not that either! I make a point of not sniffing much when I'm adding crab paste to my recipes.

I agree with the comment above. If it smells bad then just don't smell it. You can't smell that in the finished recipe.

Another thing to think about: I don't know how important authentic recipes are to you. It's not going to taste authentic and may taste kind of off or flat if you don't use fish sauce or if you use something else.
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