Have you stopped using soy, in all its forms? I have. Then, what do you do when a recipe calls for soy sauce? Or when you want to make an Asian-style dish that is always flavored with soy sauce?
The answer is simple. Just use fish sauce.
Fish sauce goes all the way back to ancient Greece, where it was called Garos, and to ancient Rome, where it was called Garum. There were many kinds of Garum, made from many different kinds of fish, sometimes with other ingredients added, such as a kind of grape concentrate. The Romans considered Garum to be so important for their health that they used it to season just about every meat, fish, fowl, and vegetable dish they cooked. The Romans also served fish sauce as a condiment with every meal, as did the ancient Greeks.
Most people who know of fish sauce connect it to Thai and Vietnamese dishes, where it is often used as a seasoning.
What Is Fish Sauce?
Fish sauce is not made from rotting fish, as is so widely believed, but from fermented fish.
Fish sauce is made from the whole bodies (including all organs) of many small fish. A number of small fish (often anchovies) are placed in containers with salt, and left to ferment for several months. The mixture is strained, which results in a clear, light brown liquid which has all the nutrients from the whole fish, enhanced by fermentation. The best fish sauce is undiluted. Inferior versions are diluted with salt water, which reduces the nutritional value, and makes the sauce too salty. Traditional soy sauce was made by a similar fermentation process. I believe, though I can’t prove it, that soy sauce was originally invented as a cheap substitute for fish sauce.
I use Thai Kitchen brand fish sauce, which has been recommended by the Weston A. Price Foundation. It is delicious and nutritious. It is also gluten free.
Fish Sauce as a Substitute for Soy Sauce
Fish sauce really enhances the flavor of a dish, and does not make it taste fishy. We use fish sauce as a substitute for soy sauce. While the flavor is different, the taste is superb. We also add it to broths and soups for flavor and nutrition. I even sprinkle it on meat instead of salt.
Instead of the problems associated with soy products, fish sauce contains vital nutrients that will improve your nutrition.
Fish sauce is full of the vital nutrients and minerals contained in fish and fish organs, enhanced by fermentation. This includes iodine and other substances that nourish the thyroid, and vitamins A and D.
Fish sauce not only provides a tasty substitute for soy, it is good for your health.
Stanley Fishman is the author of Tender Grassfed Meat: Traditional Ways to Cook Healthy Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue: Traditional, Primal and Paleo.