Homemade Fish Sauce (Without Fish!)

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Homemade fish sauce is wonderful stuff. Its flavor is always a wonderful addition to many meals you cook at home.

Fish sauce has a strong umami flavor and is sometimes considered an acquired taste. But it’s an amazing way to add tons of flavor to a lot of different dishes. Everything from seafood-based soups to Asian meals benefit from the addition of fish sauce. But you don’t have to use fish to make it. Whether you simply don’t have any, don’t like it, or are plant-based, you can still enjoy the addition of this sauce to any of your home-cooked meals.

A side view of a small, white spoon lifting some homemade fish sauce out of a full jar.

What Is Fish Sauce?

It’s an Asian sauce (or broth) that is made with anchovies and salt. The anchovies are fermented, and as you may have guessed, the smell of that can be a bit overpowering sometimes. It’s a Thai or Vietnamese recipe and it’s wonderful for adding to things like homemade vinaigrettes, pasta sauces, meats, and many Asian dishes.

What Spices Are In Fish Sauce?

There are no spices in fish sauce. It’s a mix of water, salt, and fermented anchovies. Nothing more.

A glass jar filled with homemade fish sauce and tied off with a thin rope at the top of the jar.

Why Does Fish Sauce Smell So Bad?

Because it’s fermented fish. Few things are stinkier in this world. But the depth of flavor it adds to recipes is unmatched and unequaled.

What It’s Commonly Eaten With Fish Sauce?

As mentioned above, it’s a condiment that can be added to many types of dishes. It adds a savory umami that you just cannot get anywhere else. Try making an Asian vinaigrette with it, some seafood soup or chowder, or marinate some beef, chicken, or pork in it. You can also use it to cook salmon or even shrimp. It’s a multi-purpose condiment much like vinegar, ketchup, or teriyaki sauce.

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Fish Sauce?

If you don’t want to make the anchovy-free fish sauce below, here are some fish sauce substitutes you can try. They won’t give you the same depth of flavor, but they come close.

  • Soy sauce
  • Tamari sauce
  • Seaweed
  • Coconut aminos
  • Oyster sauce

But lucky for you, the recipe below is quick and easy to make!

And overhead view of a white spoon lifting some homemade fish sauce out of a glass jar.

About The Ingredients

Shiitake Mushrooms – Used dried mushrooms for a deeper flavor. Fresh mushrooms for a lighter flavor.

Tamari sauce – Look for a sauce without added sugar or MSG.

Wakame seaweed – Check the ethnic aisle at your local grocery store. I believe Whole Foods also carries this, or you can get it on Amazon. Scroll down for the link.

Chickpea miso – This is wonderful stuff! Many health food stores carry it, or you can order it from Amazon. If you can’t find it, you can also use brown rice miso. Scroll down for the link. Miso is wonderful in soups!

Garlic cloves – The larger the cloves the better. You can add more if you wish. but don’t overdo it.

Water – Use good-quality, filtered water.

How To Make Homemade Fish Sauce

The ingredients for homemade fish sauce gathered on a white surface on a cutting board.

Gather all your ingredients.

Sliced mushrooms laying on a cutting board.

Slice the mushrooms.

Garlic cloves being peeled, laying on a cutting board.

Peel the garlic.

Homemade fish sauce ingredients sitting in a pot.

To a small saucepan, add water, the shiitake mushrooms, wakame seaweed, peeled garlic, tamari sauce, and the miso paste. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer to extract all the flavors from the ingredients for 15-20 minutes.

*If you have time, let this steep overnight or for up to 24 hours to extract the extra flavor.

The finished homemade fish sauce, unstrained, sitting in a pot.

Remove from heat and let it cool down to room temperature.

A sieve strains off solids from homemade fish sauce.

Once it cools off, strain the solids from the liquids using a fine-meshed sieve.

Pour the sauce into a mason jar or any glass jar of your preference. Use it to add extra flavor to your favorite meals. Use it to add extra flavor to your favorite meals.

A small white spoon lifts some homemade fish sauce out of a full jar.

How To Store Homemade Fish Sauce

You can store your homemade fish sauce in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 month, remember to shake it well before use.

Freezing Homemade Fish Sauce

Store this in an airtight, freezer-safe container and store it in the freezer for up to 1 year. You can also freeze this in ice cube trays so you can easily grab and use this in small amounts.

Recipe Supplies

If you can’t find some of the ingredients at your local store, you can easily get them on Amazon. Simply click any of the images here to be taken to that product on Amazon. (Affiliate links)

Wakame seaweed sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
Organic brown rice miso sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
Low sodium tamari sauce sold on Amazon. (Affiliate link)

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A side view of a small, white spoon lifting some homemade fish sauce out of a full jar.

Homemade Fish Sauce Recipe (No Fish!)

Make this delicious sauce at home without any fish at all!
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Course: Base Recipes
Cuisine: Asian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 20 servings
Calories: 5kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry

Equipment

  • 1 Pot
  • 1 strainer

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Shiitake Mushrooms (Used dried mushrooms for a deeper flavor)
  • ¼ cup Tamari sauce
  • 1 cup Wakame seaweed
  • tsp. chickpea miso
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 4 cups water

Instructions

  • Gather all your ingredients.
    The ingredients for homemade fish sauce gathered on a white surface on a cutting board.
  • Slice the mushrooms.
    Sliced mushrooms laying on a cutting board.
  • Peel the garlic.
    Garlic cloves being peeled, laying on a cutting board.
  • To a small saucepan, add water, the shiitake mushrooms, wakame seaweed, peeled garlic, tamari sauce, and the miso paste. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer to extract all the flavors from the ingredients for 15-20 minutes.
    *If you have time, let this steep overnight or for up to 24 hours to extract the extra flavor.
  • Remove from heat and let it cool down to room temperature.
    The finished homemade fish sauce, unstrained, sitting in a pot.
  • Once it cools off, strain the solids from the liquids using a fine-meshed sieve.
    A sieve strains off solids from homemade fish sauce.
  • Pour the sauce into a mason jar or any glass jar of your preference. Use it to add extra flavor to your favorite meals.
    Use it to add extra flavor to your favorite meals.
    A small white spoon lifts some homemade fish sauce out of a full jar.

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 5kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.004g | Sodium: 180mg | Potassium: 27mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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