Fish sauce is mostly used as a staple seasoning in East Asian cuisine and Southeast Asian cuisine and has been embraced globally by chefs and home cooks for its ability to impart a savoury umami flavour to a myriad of dishes. Deriving its flavour from actual fish, it is fermented and is full of flavours of the sea. The fish sauce comes in a bottle, in the form of a briny, fishy liquid. Fish and shellfish naturally having a high oil content – mackerel, shrimps and most commonly anchovies – is packed together and fermented for years before it reaches a consumer. The fish sauce is a condiment which can even be made at home as umami filled liquid condiment.
What dishes is it used in?
Fish sauce provides the prominent flavours in dishes like larb, Vietnamese marinated meat, green papaya salad, and stir-fries, as well as pad thai. Very few ingredients bring a robust flavour to a dish as much as the fish sauce does hence the struggle for a veggie alternative to fish sauce. One often leans towards soy sauce or rice vinegar as a substitute and veggie alternative to fish sauce. That is because this black or brown briny liquid is a widely recognized Asian condiment which brings the flavour of the sea in a dish. A minimalist veggie fish sauce can be produced up using shiitake mushrooms along with the soy sauce to conjure up that earthy flavour. Another veggie alternative to the fish sauce can be the plant-based coconut aminos which is coconut, just fermented. Coconut aminos mixed with Dulse and dried Shiitake mushrooms as the distinctive sauce base is an apt veggie alternative to fish sauce. This imparts a hint of earthy sea flavour in a dish. Chickpea miso and tamari can be added to go that extra mile and add an intrusive saltiness.
Steps to prepare a homemade veggie alternative to fish sauce:
- Add Dulse, dried shiitake mushrooms, and sea salt with water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to let it simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat to cool.
- Pressing on the mushrooms with a spoon, pour the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Add chickpea miso and tamari.
- Seal and store in a container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month and shake well before use. Test taste the saltiness and add salt, chickpea miso or tamari if required.
A versatile, plant-based, tangy and salty veggie alternative to the fish sauce gives any dish the taste of a little bit of everything, a simple complexity; from mushrooms to roasted tomatoes to pasta, roasted chicken or broth.
The question remains, how does veggie alternative to fish sauce differ from the regular briny fish sauce in colour, smell and taste? Most vegetarian sauces tend to acquire a delicate flavour, without the animal protein there stays the need of a substitute to unite the ingredients and push the umami-ness of the sauce to the fore. Pineapple juice, fine sea salt and cassava syrup imparts a delicate sweetness and somehow mimics the original as a veggie alternative to fish sauce. After all, it’s all a game of balancing the salty and savouriness!
- Measure and stir together pineapple juice, cassava syrup, soy sauce, salt, and MSG (monosodium glutamate). Test taste and make changes to acquire the desired savoury-salty-very-lightly sweet finish.
- Remember to keep the vegetarian fish sauce moderately salty, this is advised. Make sure to add salt when you use the condiment in dishes.
- After letting the condiment sit for a few hours, use a coffee filter for super-clear results. Store it in the refrigerator and before using bring it to room temperature.
Fermentation of the Marine coast sea vegetables and soy enhances the vital nutrients and elements present in it and the veggie alternative to the fish sauce is a tasty substitute which is also good for the health!
Opting for a veggie alternative to the fish sauce is also a step towards sustainable cooking and healthy living because eating just fish harms the environment! Seafood consumption has increased in recent years and has become widely popular; whether it’s wild-caught fish or sushi from the local store. In primarily coastal areas fish is often a staple food, but for the rest of us, however, it’s a luxury which we tend to overconsume. This results in not only the depletion of fishes at a rapid pace but also make fishes less available for those who truly depend on it for survival, such as marine wildlife. A simple step towards a healthy lifestyle can stop the harm on marine life, we must stop disrupting numerous food chains in order to eliminate the danger of starvation for those who truly rely on a species such as fishes as it’s the primary food source. High demands of seafood and overfishing can only be balanced through sustainable alternatives to seafood such as a veggie alternative to fish sauce.
Let’s all eat well and green for the planet!