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The 5 Best Substitutes for Shrimp Paste

Shrimp paste is a Southeast Asian condiment that tastes similar to fish sauce and anchovy paste.

This pasty substance is made from fermented shrimp or krill mixed with salt and other seasonings such as sugar.

It has a very strong smell and flavor, so it is usually used in small quantities.

Shrimp paste can be used in many dishes; it is commonly added to curries, dips, and sauces.

However, since shrimp paste is extremely intense, substitute ingredients must be considered.

In this article, we will focus on substituting shrimp paste in cooking.

We will also discuss the flavor of shrimp paste and why it might be good to consider substitutes.

What is Shrimp Paste?

what is shrimp paste

First of all, shrimp paste is a condiment from Asian cuisine.

Shrimp paste smells incredibly strong and can often be off-putting to people who are not used to the smell.

In comparison, it has a much more unpleasant odor than garlic or onion.

The paste is made from small shrimps, or krill, boiled and mixed with salt.

It is then left to ferment for a few days.

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Afterward, it is grounded up and some water before being shaped into balls or blocks.

Shrimp paste is an important ingredient in many Southeast Asian cuisines, such as Malaysian, Vietnamese, Thai, and Indonesian cuisine.

Many dishes from these countries feature shrimp paste in their ingredient list, for example, laksa, a spicy noodle soup.

The paste is arguably best enjoyed when cooked with other ingredients.

It has a strong, pungent taste and smell, so it can overpower a dish if not used in moderation.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Shrimp Paste

Although it’s not healthy, shrimp paste is an important ingredient for many Southeast Asian dishes.

That being said, there are many ways to substitute this ingredient.

1 – Anchovies


Another shrimp paste substitute is Anchovy.

This fish has a strong flavor and smell, but it’s considered delicious in many cuisines.

The Romans ate anchovies by the barrel-load, and they were one of the only foods they would serve fresh rather than pickled or salted.

Today, we can enjoy them topping on pizza or as part of a salad dressing.

The fish is typically preserved, which means they are packed in salt or oil.

After that, you can enjoy them topping on pizzas or salads.

You might be able to find anchovies at a specialty store near you.

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However, it is more likely that you will have to order them online.

Make sure they’re packaged in salt and not oil.

2 – Fish Sauce

fish sauce

Another popular shrimp paste substitute is fish sauce.

This type of sauce can be used in a wide range of dishes, and this condiment has a long history.

In addition, the Vietnamese have been using the fish sauce for at least 2000 years.

Fish sauce is typically made from fermented anchovies and saltwater, and other ingredients such as sugar or spices.

It’s regarded as an extremely flavorful sauce with high salt content.

Some varieties can be quite spicy too. However, fish sauce is typically used sparingly in dishes.

This condiment is incredibly potent, so it’s useful to keep this substitute on hand if you eat a lot of Asian cuisines.

3 – Miso Paste

miso paste

If you have a food intolerance or want to try something different, miso paste is a great substitute for shrimp paste.

Miso paste is a rich condiment typically made from fermented soybeans and salt.

In addition, miso can vary in color from white to dark brown, with the darker varieties having more intense flavors.

Finally, this paste can be used in many dishes, but it’s most commonly enjoyed as part of miso soup.

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Many people swear by miso paste as a shrimp substitute because it has a subtle flavor.

It is also versatile, and you can use this condiment in several dishes.

Lastly, miso paste contains high protein levels, which means you won’t have to worry about any essential amino acids missing from your meals.

4 – Bonito Flakes

bonito flakes

These flakes are made from dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna.

The fish is typically boiled before being moved to the oven, where the smoking process occurs.

Unlike shrimp paste, bonito flakes don’t have a very strong odor or taste.

However, they can be used as an alternative for this condiment because the flakes dissolve easily.

When using bonito flakes as a substitute, you only need to use a small condiment.

Bonito flakes can be found at most stores that sell miscellaneous dry goods.

These flakes are also used as ingredients in recipes, such as dashi, a traditional Japanese broth.

5 – Soy Sauce

soy sauce

It’s no surprise that soy sauce is the final shrimp paste substitute.

This condiment has been used in Asian cuisine for at least 2000 years.

Many people say that miso soup wouldn’t be as flavorful without soy sauce.

The reason behind this condiment’s popularity is that it can add a lot of flavor to food.

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Soy sauce is typically made from water, soybeans, wheat, salt and has a high sodium content.

It can be used as a dipping sauce or as an accompaniment to sushi dishes.

Soy sauce is typically made in Asia, and very few companies make it outside of Asia.

However, you can find this condiment at most grocery stores.

Also, soy sauce is a great source of protein, and it’s low in fat, so the condiment is popular among those trying to lose a few pounds.


Shrimp paste is quite common in Southeast Asian cuisine, but many people don’t know how to substitute this condiment.

Fortunately, there are several substitutes that you can use if you want to avoid using shrimp paste.

These substitutes typically have similar flavors and textures, so they will help you get your favorite dishes back on the table quickly.

After reading this article, you should have a better idea of which ingredients you can substitute for shrimp paste.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Substitutes for Shrimp Paste

The 5 Best Substitutes for Shrimp Paste
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Anchovies
  • Fish Sauce
  • Miso Paste
  • Bonito Flakes
  • Soy Sauce


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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