Do you need a substitute for anchovy paste? Don’t know how to go about it? This is for you.
Anchovy paste is the pureed version of anchovies. It is a staple ingredient used in the Mediterranean, Spanish and Italian cuisine to add umami flavor to sauces, soups, and more.
Anchovy paste can be found in most grocery stores and supermarkets. However, you may not always have some on hand when you need it — or you may want to avoid using anchovy paste for whatever reason.
Fortunately, there are several anchovy substitutes that will do the trick. This article includes a list of alternative ingredients you can use instead of anchovy paste.
What Is Anchovy Paste?
Anchovy paste is a mixture of anchovies and vegetable oil (usually olive oil) that have been blended until smooth. It has a salty, fishy flavor similar to that of Worcestershire sauce, although it is less intense than the latter.
This strong-flavored paste is used to add a great deal of umami flavor to sauces, dressings, and other foods. Some people also eat it on its own as a spread for crackers or bread, or in salads as an ingredient.
Anchovy paste comes in tubes (like toothpaste) and jars (like peanut butter) and you can find it in the canned fish section of most grocery stores.
Anchovy Paste Substitutes
1. Anchovy Fillets
The easiest way to substitute for anchovy paste is to use the anchovy fillets themselves. All you have to do is remove the bones from the fillets and then blend them into a paste using a fork or food processor.
You can also add oil to create a smooth consistency, although you probably won’t need it if your anchovy fillets are packed in oil already.
2. Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire sauce is an excellent substitute for anchovy paste. Both contain anchovies, but Worcestershire sauce has added ingredients like sugar, molasses, and tamarind to give it a distinctive flavor.
To replace 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste, stir 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce into your dish. The flavor may be slightly different from anchovy paste, but you’ll still have a delicious dish.
3. Fish Sauce
Fish sauce is just what it sounds like: a sauce made of fermented fish, often anchovies. If stored properly, the bottle will last a long time and you can use it in many recipes as a substitute for anchovy paste.
Although fish sauce has a pungent odor, it loses its strong smell when mixed with other ingredients. So use one tablespoon of fish sauce for every teaspoon of anchovy paste called for in your recipe.
Capers, which are the pickled buds of a Mediterranean shrub, make a great substitute for anchovy paste. They are also much easier to find than anchovy paste (you can find them at almost any supermarket or grocery store).
There is a catch, though. Capers are less salty than anchovy paste, so you may want to add more salt when using capers as a substitute for anchovy paste.
5. Chopped Kalamata Olives
Chopped kalamata olives can be a great substitute for anchovy paste. However, they’re less salty, so you may want to add more salt than what your recipe requires.
You can just chop the kalamata olives with a knife. But if you feel like you’re not getting them small enough, you can use a meat pounder or some other kitchen equipment.
6. Soy Sauce
This will help round out the flavors in your dish by giving it a strong umami taste. It is also vegan-friendly and gluten-free if you’re looking for those options.
Soy sauce is best with Asian-inspired dishes, like Japanese dashi, but it’ll work well with other recipes, too. Use half the amount of what is called for in the recipe as soy sauce is fairly salty.
7. Miso Paste
If you love the flavor of anchovies but would rather use a vegetarian alternative, miso paste is a great substitute. Miso is bean paste made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji (a fungus). It has a pungent flavor that’s often described as salty, fermented, and even “meaty.”
The fermentation process breaks down the soybeans’ complex carbohydrate structure into simple sugars, so miso paste is fairly sweet too.
8. Sardine Fillets
If you don’t have anchovy paste on hand but need it for a recipe, try sardine fillets instead. Sardine fillets have a flavor similar to anchovy paste, but the texture is firmer.
Just remove the bones from the fillets and mash them into a paste, using a fork. Then use the same amount as called for in your recipe.
9. Oyster Sauce
A better alternative for when you need some saltiness but not an intense flavor is oyster sauce. It has a slightly sweet and salty taste, and it works really well in stir-fries and soups.
Oyster sauce is typically made by simmering oyster extracts with salt and sugar until the mixture becomes thick and syrupy.
10. Seaweed Paste
Seaweed Paste is a great alternative to anchovy paste and you can use it in many ways.
You can mix it with freshly cooked grains, like quinoa or rice; whisk it with olive oil and lemon juice for a salad dressing, or mix it with yogurt and herbs to make an easy dip. You can also use it as an umami boost in soups or sauces — just like anchovy paste.
11. Umeboshi Paste
Umeboshi paste is a combination of umeboshi plum puree and umeboshi vinegar. It has a salty-savory taste similar to anchovy paste, and you can use it as an alternative to it.
However, umeboshi paste is saltier than anchovy paste so you may need to adjust the amount of salt in your recipe when using it. It can also cause stomach aches for people with a sensitive stomach (due to its high salt content).
12. Shrimp Paste
Shrimp paste is a popular ingredient in Malaysian cooking and other Southeast Asia cuisines. It’s a great substitute for anchovy paste. Not only will you get all the intense flavor of anchovy paste, but you’ll also have the added benefit of shrimp flavor as well.
When using it as a substitute, I recommend using only half the amount called for in the recipe (unless you want a strong shrimp flavor).
13. Seaweed Powder
Another good substitute for anchovy paste is seaweed powder. You can find it in some spice aisles and online at sites like Amazon and Thrive Market. If you have Asian grocery stores nearby, they’re likely to have it as well.
14. Mushroom, Garlic, and Olive Oil
If you are looking for a vegetarian substitute, try using mushroom, garlic, and olive oil as a replacement. The flavor won’t be the same but they will add a nice umami flavor to your dish.
Why Does Anchovy Paste Need Substitutes?
There are several reasons why anchovy paste needs substitutes. Some people don’t eat seafood, or don’t have it on hand and can’t be bothered to go to the store.
It can also be a matter of taste: Some people just don’t like the way anchovy paste tastes. In any case, you need substitutes like anchovy fillets, miso paste, and soy sauce to complete your recipe.
What does anchovy paste taste like?
Anchovy paste tastes like a combination of salt and fish with a bit of tanginess. It’s not too powerful but has enough flavor to stand out among other ingredients in a dish.
Is shrimp paste the same as anchovy paste?
No, it is not. Shrimp paste is made by fermenting ground shrimp with salt. Anchovy paste, on the other hand, is made by grinding anchovies with vinegar and salt. The two products are fairly similar, but the flavor of shrimp paste is much stronger than that of anchovy paste.
Can you use Worcestershire sauce instead of anchovy paste?
Yes, you can. Worcestershire sauce is a great substitute for anchovy paste. It has a similar flavor, with less fishiness. When substituting Worcestershire for anchovy paste, use 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce to replace each teaspoon of anchovy paste.
How do you make anchovy paste at home?
Place some anchovy fillets in a food processor and run the processor until you’ve grounded them completely. Then slowly pour in some olive oil and run the processor again until you reach your desired consistency.
There are several substitutes for anchovy paste that you can try if you ever run out of it or don’t want to use it. Depending on your recipe, you can choose from anchovy fillets and shrimp paste to more vegan options like soy sauce and chopped kalamata olives.
Thanks for reading.
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