Are you a fan of Asian cuisine but struggling to find dried shrimp for your favorite recipes?
Don’t worry, there are plenty of substitutes out there that can provide the same umami flavor.
One popular option is fish sauce, which can be used in place of dried shrimp in many dishes.
But how does it compare in terms of taste and texture?
In this article, we’ll explore the world of dried shrimp substitutes and see if fish sauce is a worthy replacement.
So, let’s dive in and discover the possibilities!
Can You Use Fish Sauce In Place Of Dried Shrimp?
Fish sauce is a common ingredient in many Asian dishes, and it can be used as a substitute for dried shrimp in certain recipes. Fish sauce is made from fermented fish and has a strong seafood flavor that can add depth and complexity to your dishes.
If you’re looking to replace dried shrimp with fish sauce, it’s important to keep in mind that fish sauce is saltier than dried shrimp. You may need to adjust the amount of salt you add to your recipe accordingly. Additionally, dried shrimp has a slightly sweet taste that fish sauce lacks, so you may want to add a pinch of sugar to balance out the flavors.
Fish sauce can be used in place of dried shrimp in soups, broths, and sauces. It’s also a great addition to stir-fries and marinades. However, it may not be the best substitute for dishes where dried shrimp is used as a paste or sauce, such as in Mee Siam. In these cases, other substitutes like shrimp paste or anchovy fillet may be more suitable.
Why Use Dried Shrimp In Asian Cuisine?
Dried shrimp, also known as “hai mi” or “xia mi” in Chinese, are a staple ingredient in many Asian cuisines. These small shrimp are sun-dried until they shrink to a thumbnail size, creating a unique umami and seafood-like taste that is highly valued in Asian cooking.
One of the main reasons dried shrimp are so popular in Asian cuisine is because of their versatility. They can be used in stir-fries, braised dishes, soups, salads, dumplings, and more to add flavor and depth to the dish. In Chinese cuisine, dried shrimp is extensively used in both northern and southern cooking, and it is one of the key ingredients in Cantonese XO sauce.
Dried shrimp also have a long shelf life, making them ideal for preservation purposes. To dry the shrimp, they are first soaked in brine, which acts as a natural preservative, before being dried in the sun. This process allows the dried shrimp to be stored for months at a time without spoiling.
In addition to their unique flavor and long shelf life, dried shrimp are also highly nutritious. They are low in fat and calories but high in protein and essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12 and selenium.
Common Dried Shrimp Substitutes
If you’re looking for a substitute for dried shrimp, there are several options available. Here are some common substitutes:
1. Shrimp paste: Also known as belacan, terasi, or kapi in different countries, shrimp paste is made by fermenting prawns with salt for a few weeks. It has a similar flavor to dried shrimp but is much saltier and more concentrated. Use it sparingly and consider adding a pinch of sugar to balance out the flavors.
2. Dried anchovies: Anchovies have a similar brininess to dried shrimp and can be mashed into a paste and mixed with fish sauce and sugar to replace dried shrimp.
3. Saeu-jeot: This is a salted and fermented small Korean shrimp that is usually stored in liquid and has the shell on. It can be found in Korean grocery stores or large Asian markets.
4. Sakura Ebi: This is a premium tiny shrimp from Japan that has less meat but a distinct flavor. It comes in fresh form mixed with salt or dried form (桜海老).
5. Oyster sauce: If you’re looking for a vegan alternative, oyster sauce made of mushrooms can be used instead of dried shrimp.
When substituting dried shrimp with any of these options, keep in mind that they may alter the taste slightly, so adjust your recipe accordingly.
What Is Fish Sauce?
Fish sauce is a common ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly in Thai, Vietnamese, and Filipino dishes. It is made by fermenting fish, usually anchovies or mackerel, with salt for several months. The resulting liquid is then strained and bottled.
Fish sauce has a pungent aroma and a strong, salty flavor that can add depth and complexity to dishes. It is often used as a condiment or seasoning, similar to soy sauce. In addition to its salty taste, fish sauce also contains umami, which gives food dishes a savory and slightly sweet taste.
When substituting fish sauce for dried shrimp, it’s important to keep in mind that fish sauce has a stronger flavor and higher salt content. You may need to adjust the amount of fish sauce you use in your recipe to avoid overpowering the other flavors. Additionally, some people may find the strong flavor of fish sauce unpleasant, so it’s important to use it sparingly and taste as you go.
Using Fish Sauce As A Substitute For Dried Shrimp
To use fish sauce as a substitute for dried shrimp, start by using 1 teaspoon of fish sauce for every 2 tablespoons of dried shrimp called for in the recipe. Keep in mind that fish sauce is quite salty, so you may need to adjust the amount of salt you add to your dish accordingly.
Fish sauce can be added directly to soups, broths, and sauces, or it can be mixed with other ingredients to create a marinade or dipping sauce. For example, you can mix fish sauce with sugar and lime juice to create a flavorful marinade for meats or vegetables.
When using fish sauce as a substitute for dried shrimp, it’s important to taste your dish as you go and adjust the seasoning as needed. You may find that you need to add more fish sauce to achieve the desired flavor profile.
Tips For Cooking With Fish Sauce
Here are some tips for cooking with fish sauce:
1. Use it sparingly: Fish sauce has a strong flavor, so a little goes a long way. Start with a small amount and taste your dish before adding more. You can always add more, but it’s harder to take it out once it’s in.
2. Use it as a marinade: Fish sauce is salty and umami, making it a great ingredient for marinades. Mix it with other seasonings like ground pepper, chopped garlic, or soy sauce to create a flavorful marinade for meat or seafood.
3. Keep it refrigerated: While fish sauce can stay good for several years, it’s best to keep it in the refrigerator, especially if your kitchen gets hot or you don’t use fish sauce often.
4. Look for high-quality fish sauce: When buying fish sauce, look for a minimum of three ingredients, with fish being the main one. Make sure the sauce is preservative-free, color-free, MSG-free, and additive-free. Look for anything over 30N on the label, as this indicates a higher protein level in the sauce.
5. Experiment with different dishes: Don’t limit fish sauce to just Vietnamese, Thai, or Filipino cuisine. It can be used in many different dishes, from stir-fries and soups to pasta and roasted meats.
6. Balance out the flavors: Fish sauce is salty and lacks the slight sweetness of dried shrimp. To balance out the flavors, you may want to add a pinch of sugar to your recipe. You may also need to adjust the amount of salt you add to your dish accordingly.
By following these tips, you can use fish sauce as a substitute for dried shrimp in certain recipes and enhance the flavor of your dishes.
Other Alternatives To Dried Shrimp
While fish sauce is a great substitute for dried shrimp in certain recipes, there are other alternatives that you can use as well. Here are some other options:
1. Shrimp paste: This is a popular substitute for dried shrimp in many Asian dishes. Shrimp paste is made by fermenting prawns with salt, and it has a similar flavor to dried shrimp. However, it’s important to note that shrimp paste is much saltier and more concentrated than dried shrimp, so you’ll need to use it sparingly.
2. Anchovy fillet: Anchovies have a similar brininess to dried shrimp, and they can be mashed into a paste and mixed with a teaspoon of fish sauce and some sugar when used in place of dried shrimp.
3. Oyster sauce: If you’re looking for a vegan alternative, oyster sauce made from mushrooms is a great option. It has a savory flavor that can add depth to your dishes.
4. Dark miso: This fermented soybean paste has a rich umami flavor that can be used as a substitute for dried shrimp in soups and broths.
5. Seaweed: Dried seaweed can be rehydrated and used in place of dried shrimp in certain recipes. It has a mild seafood flavor that can add depth to your dishes.
6. Shiitake mushrooms: These mushrooms have a meaty texture and a savory flavor that can be used as a substitute for dried shrimp in certain dishes. They’re especially good in stir-fries and soups.