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DIY: Vegan “Fish” Sauce

If you’re a fan of Thai and southeast Asian food, you know that fish sauce is a key ingredient to many dishes.

Fish sauce, also called nuoc mam or nam pla, is made from fermented fish and salt. I thought it would be interesting to try to come up with a vegan alternative.

My pal Marie from Meandering Eats suggested that the key taste to capture was umami, the savory taste found in soy-based foods.

I took seaweed, soaked it, added miso for the salty umami flavor, and blended it. It has a briny taste that is a pretty reasonable substitute for fish sauce.

Note that the final product is not particularly appetizing in color, so you might want to keep this a secret ingredient in your recipes.

Vegan “Fish” Sauce

Yield: Makes 1 cup


  • 1/2 ounce seaweed sheets (nori or another sheet-style seaweed)
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 1 cup filtered water

Cooking Directions

  1. Soak the seaweed in the water for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the miso and put in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pass through a fine mesh strainer, saving the liquid (toss or compost what is caught by the strainer), and store in the refrigerator.

Once you’ve mastered this recipe, try incorporating it into dishes like Cabbage “Chips” with Thai Spices, Thai Rabbit Salad, and Japanese Baby Spinach Salad.

Stephanie Weaver

Stephanie Weaver is a writer and wellness advocate who lives in San Diego. Her specialty is remaking recipes with healthy ingredients: low-sodium, gluten-free and migraine-friendly. She has a Master's in public health in nutrition education from the University of Illinois. Visit her blog Recipe Renovator.

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