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Learn how to make vegan fish sauce at home with just 5 ingredients. This savory condiment is the secret to elevating your dishes to a new level! Whether it’s enhancing dipping sauces and marinades or adding depth to curries and soups, this plant-based fish sauce offers endless possibilities!

Bottle of vegan fish sauce on a wooden board.

⭐️ Why You Should Try It

  • Aromatic. Packed with plenty of umami, this vegan fish sauce will add depth and complex flavors to any dish. It will quickly become your secret ingredient!
  • Saltiness is on point. I ensured this plant-based version had the same sodium level as a traditional fish sauce so that you can use it as a 1:1 replacement.
  • Cheaper than store-bought. This homemade version turns out to be about 3 times cheaper than store-bought bottles and tastes just as good, if not better!

How does it compare to commercial versions?

We compared this homemade vegan fish sauce with two commercial Vietnamese brands (Lien Thanh and Au Lac), one made from pineapples and the other from fermented soybeans. To do our test, one tablespoon of vegan fish sauce was diluted with one tablespoon of sugar and three tablespoons of water. Here are the results:

  • Lien Thanh: Since this brand uses pineapple, it tastes incredibly close to our version. However, according to the label, this vegan fish sauce contains many preservatives and a “synthetic fish sauce flavor”, which gives it a not-so-natural flavor. A bottle of 500ml cost us $12.
  • Au Lac: Surprisingly, this brand smells like authentic fish sauce. It has a powerful fermented aroma, with notes that remind me of natto. We personally thought its flavor was a bit too funky and not as aromatic as the others. One bottle of 500ml cost us $6.
  • Our version: Our version has a slightly stronger pineapple flavor compared to the Lien Thanh brand but tastes much more natural. It’s also very aromatic and the saltiness is on par with the two other brands. Our homemade vegan fish sauce costs around $2 for 500ml.

📘 What Is Fish Sauce

Fish sauce (Nước Mắm in Vietnamese) is a liquid condiment made from fermenting anchovies (or other types of fish) in salt for 3 to 12 months. The result is a golden brown liquid with a salty, pungent, and umami-packed flavor.

Fish sauce has been used for thousands of years in Southeast Asia to make dipping sauces and to enhance the flavors of dishes like curries, stir-fries, soups, and more.

Ingredients like pineapple, salt, sugar, and shiitake.

🍍 Ingredient Notes

This plant-based fish sauce recipe requires only 5 easy-to-find ingredients. Here is what you will need:

  • Pineapple – Use ripe and sweet pineapple for the best flavor. Not only will it bring a delicate fruity aroma, but also a natural sweetness.
  • Shiitake mushroom – For a depth of flavor and extra umami. Use dried shiitakes.
  • Salt – Regular table salt works great here. Be aware that while the amount of salt might sound like a lot, it’s required to reach the same level of saltiness as regular fish sauce.
  • Sugar – Use rock sugar, also called rock candy, to add a light yellow color to the sauce.
  • Dark soy sauce – We won’t use dark soy sauce for flavor but to give the sauce a darker color.
  • MSG – A pinch of monosodium glutamate helps enhance the overall flavor of this “fish” sauce. It is optional but highly recommended!

Note: While authentic fish sauce does have a funky smell, it doesn’t have a “fishy” or “ocean” flavor. Hence, there is no need to add any seaweed here.

🥣 How to Make It

Prepare the pineapple

  1. Slice the pineapple. Lay the pineapple on a cutting board and cut off the top and bottom parts. Next, slice the pineapple into 1-inch thick slices. Cut off the peel and discard.
  2. Cut it into chunks. Slice each slice into quarters and set aside.

Simmer

  1. Soak the shiitake mushroom. Place the dried shiitake mushroom in a small bowl and cover it with 100ml of hot water. Let it rehydrate for about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a saucepan. Transfer the soaking water of the shiitake, pineapple chunks, and water to a saucepan.
  3. Let simmer. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes uncovered.
  4. Add the salt and simmer again. Next, add the salt, rehydrated shiitake mushroom, and sugar, and let simmer for another 35-40 minutes, or until it has reduced to 330ml.

Strain

Finally, strain the fish sauce and discard the pineapple chunks. You can now stir in the dark soy sauce, giving your fish sauce a beautiful golden brown color.

To store the fish sauce, transfer it to a clean glass bottle and keep it in the refrigerator.

🍜 Where to Use It

You can use fish sauce to add saltiness and umami to various dishes! It works particularly well in Vietnamese, Thai, and Cambodian recipes. Here are a few ideas on where to use it:

  • To make Nước Chấm: Nuoc cham is a Vietnamese dipping sauce that is often served with vegan egg rolls, banh xeo, or banh hoi. It consists of fish sauce diluted with water and combined with sugar, lime juice, garlic, and chopped chili.
  • In curries: Enhance your curries by replacing the salt with this vegan fish sauce! It does wonders in a green Thai curry or Vietnamese curry!
  • In marinades: Marinade vegan chicken, tofu, tempeh, or seitan.
  • In stir-fries: Use it to season broccoli, pak choi, or mixed vegetable stir-fries.
  • To make sauces: You can also use this fish sauce as a base to make Pad Thai sauce or use it to season homemade kimchi.
  • In soups: Just like for curries, you can replace the salt with vegan fish sauce in soups to give them a kick of flavor.

📔 Tips

  • Measure the liquid after simmering. It is essential to measure the amount of liquid left after simmering. You will need 330ml left in order to get the saltiness on point. If you have more, let it simmer for a few more minutes. If you have less, add water until it reaches 330ml.
  • Store in the refrigerator. While you could store it at room temperature, keeping it in the refrigerator is preferable to preserve its freshness.

💬 FAQ

Does this taste like authentic fish sauce?

No, it doesn’t have the “funky” smell you would find in authentic fish sauce. I have been working on a fermented vegan fish sauce recipe, which obviously has a more funky aroma, but it’s not quite ready yet. However, in my opinion, once diluted, you won’t be able to taste much difference between this one and a fermented one.

How long does this vegan fish sauce keep?

Due to the high salt level, this vegan fish sauce will last months! You can keep it in the refrigerator for at least 5 months (probably more).

Can I add seaweed to this vegan fish sauce recipe?

There is absolutely no need to add seaweed to this recipe. Anyone who has tried authentic fish sauce will know it doesn’t have a “fishy” taste. I’m actually wondering why other vegan fish sauce recipes use seaweed.

What is the difference between fish sauce and oyster sauce?

Fish sauce consists of the juice of naturally fermented anchovies, while oyster sauce is made by reducing oysters, salt, and sugar until it caramelizes and thickens. Fish sauce has a watery consistency, while oyster sauce is very thick, like a glaze.

What is the difference between Nước Mắm and Nước Chấm?

Nước Mắm is the Vietnamese name for fish sauce. Nước Chấm means dipping sauce, which is made with fish sauce, sugar, garlic, lime, and chili.

Nuoc cham in a small bowl.

If you are looking for a tasty alternative to traditional fish sauce, you are going to love this plant-based version! It’s salty, a bit sweet, and perfect for elevating the flavor of plenty of dishes. Even non-vegans will enjoy this delicious plant-based alternative to fish sauce!

⭐️ Did you like this recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Spoonful of vegan fish sauce.
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Recipe

Vegan Fish Sauce

4.84 from 6 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
Learn how to make vegan fish sauce at home with just 5 ingredients. This savory condiment is the secret to elevating your dishes to a new level!
Prep Time : 10 minutes
Cook Time : 45 minutes
Total Time : 55 minutes
Servings 330 ml
Calories 3 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 9 ounces pineapple chunks about 1/2 pineapple
  • 1 dried shiitake mushroom
  • 23 ounces water
  • 2.8 ounces salt
  • 0.5 ounces rock sugar
  • 1/8 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1/8 tsp MSG Optional, to enhance the flavor.

Instructions
 

Prepare the pineapple

  • Slice the pineapple. Lay the pineapple on a cutting board and cut off the top and bottom parts. Next, slice the pineapple into 1-inch thick slices. Cut off the peel and discard.
    Cut it into chunks. Slice each slice into quarters and set aside.

Simmer

  • Soak the shiitake mushroom. Place the dried shiitake mushroom in a small bowl and cover it with 3.5 ounces (100ml) of hot water. Let it rehydrate for about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a saucepan. Transfer the soaking water of the shiitake, pineapple chunks, and remaining water (19.5 ounces/550ml) to a saucepan.
  • Let simmer. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes uncovered.
  • Add the salt and simmer again. Next, add the salt, rehydrated shiitake mushroom, and sugar. Let simmer for another 35-40 minutes or until it has reduced to 11.7 ounces (330ml).

Strain

  • Strain the fish sauce using a fine sieve mesh and discard the pineapple chunks. You can now stir in the dark soy sauce, giving your fish sauce a beautiful golden brown color.
  • To store the fish sauce, transfer it to a clean glass bottle and keep it in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • Measure the liquid after simmering. It is essential to measure the amount of liquid left after simmering. You will need 330ml left in order to get the saltiness on point. If you have more, let it simmer for a few more minutes. If you have less, add water until it reaches 330ml.
  • Store in the refrigerator. While you could store it at room temperature, keeping it in the refrigerator is preferable to preserve its freshness.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 tbsp | Calories: 3 kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.7 g | Sodium: 1411 mg | Sugar: 0.7 g | Calcium: 1 mg
Course : Condiment
Cuisine : Asian, Vietnamese
Did you make this recipe? Tag @fullofplants on Instagram and hashtag it #fullofplants
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About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

Learn more ➜

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5 stars
Excellent recipe Thomas. This is what I search for a long time ago. I’ll try it.

4 stars
As MSG is considered by many healthy- and healing-foods gurus and in communities in Asian countries (incl Japan) (eg Medical Medium, Anthony William, my diet and health guru) as a dangerous additive, causing damage to the brain, I’d rather substitute a ‘clean’ , ie mad of heathy natural ingredients, Umami powder or liquid for it in the fish sauce. There are Umami powder and liquids made from vegetables and mushrooms extracts, at least according to the manufacturers’ labels on the packaging, that contain no chemical additives with those E-numbers, like E631 or E621 for MSG or the likes. I believe these should work as good substitutes for the MSG to enhance the flavor of the fish sauce. Else the recipe sounds fantastic and what I’ve been looking for. Thanks so much for working on The experiment to invent this recipe for us. I also love that it saves me the time to ferment anything, like what is required of a real fish sauce or soy sauce. Well done!

Coconut aminos should also work as a healthier substitute for MSG to give this fish sauce some umami taste, I think.

Hi , the fish sauce is good for a long time ?

I do believe so since it contains only concentrated liquid with a lot of salt in it. To be sure you can also store it in the fridge to also extend its consumable time.

Excited to see this and looking forward to giving it a try!

5 stars
I gave this a try and it works well. So glad since the brand of vegan fish sauce we found here, with relatively clean ingredients, is no longer sold. This is even better!

Happy Tet!

5 stars
“ Fish sauce consists of the juice of naturally fermented anchovies” GAG!!
I can’t wait to make this. It will be a gift for my daughter’s birthday.
I just love your recipes. I know this will be a 5 star!

I am in the middle of making it. How do I know what it has reduced to with all the chunks in it? Seems I won’t know until it has been strained.

I don’t have a scale so I did online conversions. It is inedible. Way way too salty. If you could include standard measurements, tsp, cups, mls, it would be most helpful. I’m hugely disappointed. I wasted valuable time and an expensive pineapple.

Hi Thomas,
I suspect that the online conversion was the issue.
I received your plum tart recipe in my inbox today. It looks as amazing as the rest of your recipes.
I’ve made your authentic cultured butter and baked pears.
If you are interested, I have made a cultured sour cream that no one would know is vegan.
You are still my favourite! xo

5 stars
Love this fish sauce recipe!!! Better than any bought ones and easy to make. I, however, modified it somewhat and added a small mixture of dried Kombu (dark green seaweed), Atlantic dulse, and spirulina to add the sea/fishy taste and aroma to it. Not having rock sugar on hand, I used coconut/palm sugar and/or a splash of maple syrup instead, all of which add to the sauce’s brown color. Instead of MSG, I used some natural umami powder/liquid from my kitchen. Because I hate wasting food, I plan to keep the solid ingredients to put them in the braised tofu stew pot, also introduced on this platform, without any more salt and adding some maple syrup/honey/coconut sugar/palm sugar. I surely will continue making more vegan fish sauce myself this way in the future! 👍😃😋

This is a good looking recipe because so many others contain seaweed and it’s the iodine I’m allergic to. Can’t wait to make it but can’t send it to my email…Can you help?

Hi Thomas – Have you figured out how to achieve more funk by fermentation? Now that I am vegan, I use a lot of gochujang and doenjang to bring the funk in place of fish sauce. I wonder if the only way to get that pungency for vegan fish sauce is to add a source of protein (like soy or fava bean) to the fermentation?

5 stars
Hi, I made some Thai Green Papaya Salad yesterday with the vegan fish sauce I hade made with this recipe as an ingredient. I also added a bit of vegan tuna made from a recipe on this platform and a bit of Atlantic dulse as substitute for salted-dried shrimps required in the original Thai Green Papaya recipe. My kids and Thai friends love the resulting salad 😃 I have also used this vegan fish sauce in multiple Asian recipes calling for fish sauce, and it works great 👍

IMG_2540

You can post your recipe for Vietnamese version of vegan green papaya salad for us to compare if it’s similar to the Thai one I know of. I know that Vietnamese also use green papaya to make salad, too. Variations of the one I made are with green/unripe mango or fruit like watermelon, etc.