Vegan Fish Sauce

Thinking about Thailand is something I do. A lot. More than I’d like to admit I find myself drifting back to my days spent in Hua Hin : the deep green ferns, the sun over the sparkling gulf, the soft, warm air, and most of all the smell and taste of the unbelievably fresh and delicious food.

I do my best to recreate Thai recipes now and then, and one ingredient necessary in almost every dish is fish sauce. While I don’t have many qualms with seafood (none, really), I have strict vegan and vegetarian friends who do. Also, I find that fish sauce only comes in giant bottles that go bad in my refrigerator. Fish sauce= good. Expired fish sauce= very, very bad. The question then is how to get that sought-after umami depth into my Thai dishes?!

Solution found. The Kitchn has an awesome recipe for vegan fish sauce that you can substitute one-for-one for traditional fish sauce in any southeast Asian recipe. It packs all the same taste profiles as the regular stuff because it gets brine from seaweed, earth from mushrooms, and fermentation from miso. I tweaked their recipe a bit because I did not have mushroom soy sauce and wanted to make it gluten free (for the extra-picky). This stuff is rock star caliber. Here’s how to do it:

Vegan Fish Sauce


(makes about 3 cups)

1 1/2 cups shredded wakame seaweed (can be found at Whole Foods or Asian markets)

6 cups water

6 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbs black peppercorns, slightly crushed

1 cup gluten-free soy sauce (shoyu or tamari)

1/2 cup dried shitake mushrooms

1 tbs miso


1. In a large pan bring water, peppercorns, and garlic to a boil.

2. Soak wakame in cold water for 5 minutes.

3. Add wakame and mushrooms to pot and once boiling reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Strain out solids and conserve liquid. (Save seaweed for salads, miso soup, and other recipes!)

5. Put liquid back in pot, add soy sauce, and boil.

6. Cook until greatly reduced, about 2/3 original volume. Mixture will be very salty.

7. Remove from heat and stir in miso. Store in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.


Get cooking!