Can You Use Fish Sauce Instead of Dashi?

The Difference Between Dashi and Fish Sauce

Before getting down to the main point, let me talk about the difference between dashi and fish sauce briefly.

Dashi is soup stock made from various materials containing umami ingredient. The raw material includes many different things such as dried bonito shavings, kombu (kelp), dried shiitake mushrooms, and dried small sardines.

By using dashi in cooking, you will be able to make the dish with a lots of umami and refined taste.

Unlike fish sauce, the soup stock itself is not salty. So, you will make the taste of the dish by adding various seasonings such as soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, etc.

Fish sauce is made by soaking raw fish in salt and fermenting it. Due to the fermenting process, it contains the deep umami taste and rich flavor of the fish.

Since fish sauce has strong saltiness, you may want to use only a few drops as a secret ingredient in cooking.

Although some people think the smell is too strong, it could be the addictive seasoning with its very unique flavor.

Interested in learning more about the difference?
Dashi vs Fish Sauce: What Are the Differences?

So… Can You Use Fish Sauce Instead of Dashi?

I would say you should not use fish sauce instead of dashi.

Firstly, fish sauce has very unique fishy smell, and its aroma is not close to real dashi stock. The flavor of the dashi is more sophisticated taste compared to fish sauce.

Rather than a substitute for a soup stock, fish sauce should be used as a main seasoning to create unique flavor in cooking.

Secondly, fish sauce is too salty as a substitute for dashi. As you know, dashi doesn’t contain salt, while fish sauce is made from a lot of salt. In general, fish sauce is said to be much saltier than the ordinary soy sauce. This saltiness may ruin your dish if it’s used as a substitute.

However, using fish sauce instead of dashi is not completely impossible. As long as the fishy aroma is suitable for the dish, and you can adjust the amount of salt properly, it could be good replacement.

Then… What Is the Best Substitute for Dashi?

If you are looking for the best substitute for dashi, here is the list for you!

10 Best Dashi Stock Substitutes


Dashi: Soup stock without saltiness, containing umami taste

Fish Sauce: Very salty seasoning with strong fishy smell, containing umami taste

I wouldn’t recommend to use fish sauce instead of dashi because of its aroma and saltiness, so please try to find your best substitute from the list above.

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