Chilli Shrimp Paste close-up - Ly Quoc Su

Shrimp Paste Substitute: A Guide to Finding the Perfect Replacement

Spencer B. 11 months ago 0 133

Shrimp paste is a savory condiment commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine. It is made by fermenting tiny shrimp that has been mixed with salt. This results in a thick, spicy, and slightly salty paste that adds depth of flavor and umami to various dishes. However, if you do not find shrimp paste in your kitchen, there are different shrimp paste substitutes.

Shrimp Paste Substitute: A Guide to Finding the Perfect Replacement
Chilli Shrimp Paste close-up – Ly Quoc Su

Shrimp paste is a common ingredient in curries, stir-fries, and dipping sauces. It is popular, but some individuals may be unable to consume it due to dietary restrictions, allergies, or personal preferences.

Why Substitute Shrimp Paste?

There are a few reasons you may need to find a substitute for shrimp paste:

  • Allergies or dietary restrictions: Shrimp paste contains shellfish and may not be suitable for those with allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • Availability: Shrimp paste may not always be readily available in your local grocery store store
  • Taste: Some people may find the taste and smell of shrimp paste off-putting.

Whatever your reason, there are several substitutes that you can use to achieve similar flavors and textures in your dishes.

Shrimp Paste Substitutes

Here are some shrimp paste substitutes:

Miso Paste

Japanese miso paste is a seasoning made from fermented soybeans with rice or barley. The taste is slightly sweet, salty, and rich in umami flavor, similar to shrimp paste. White miso paste is an excellent alternative in recipes for shrimp paste and can be used in marinades, dressings, and dipping sauces.

Fish Sauce

If you’re cooking Southeast Asian dishes, you’ll often find fish sauce, which tastes like shrimp paste. It’s made by fermenting fish and salt and can substitute shrimp paste in marinades, dipping sauces, curry dishes, and stir-fries. Remember that fish sauce is a liquid, so you may need to modify other ingredients to compensate for the extra liquid.

Anchovy Paste

Ground anchovies and salt comprise the ingredients of anchovy paste, which imparts a savory, salty taste akin to shrimp paste. When making curry, marinades, or dressings, anchovy paste can be a viable alternative to shrimp paste.

Soy Sauce

Many people consider soy sauce a kitchen staple and can be used as a substitute for shrimp paste in savory dishes. Although it does not have the same level of intensity as shrimp paste, it adds a slightly salty and umami flavor to recipes. It’s essential to use soy sauce in small amounts since it can be quite salty.

Vegemite or Marmite

Although not common in Southeast Asian cuisine, Vegemite and Marmite can be a great alternative to shrimp paste. These spreads have a salty and slightly bitter taste, which can enhance the flavor of your dishes. Additionally, their texture is quite similar to shrimp paste, making them a flexible substitute in recipes like curry paste, marinades, and dipping sauces.

Benefits and Uses of Shrimp Paste Substitute

Using a shrimp paste substitute can have several benefits, including:

  • Dietary Restrictions and Allergies: Shrimp paste substitutes can let individuals with shellfish allergies or dietary restrictions savor the taste of Southeast Asian cuisine without harming their health.
  • Cultural Exchange: Trying out alternative ingredients instead of shrimp paste can be a fun way to discover and experience diverse culinary traditions. You can create distinct flavor blends that add an exciting twist to classic recipes by experimenting with different substitutes.
  • Better Availability: Some grocery stores may not have shrimp paste in stock, making it difficult to find. To simplify the ingredient search, you may consider using a substitute.

Shrimp paste substitutes can be used in the same way as shrimp paste in recipes such as:

  • Curry Paste: Substitute shrimp paste with anchovy paste or fish sauce.
  • Stir-Fries: Use soy sauce or fish sauce instead of shrimp paste.
  • Dipping Sauces: Try miso paste, fish sauce, or anchovy paste instead of shrimp paste.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are some questions and answers about shrimp paste substitutes that may help you more:

1. What is a suitable substitute for shrimp paste?

If you don’t have shrimp paste for your recipe, you can use fish sauce, miso, soy sauce, anchovy paste, or oyster sauce instead. These options can provide a similar umami flavor that shrimp paste typically adds to dishes.

2. Can I replace shrimp paste with anchovy paste?

When you do not find the shrimp paste in your pantry, you can replace it with the anchovy paste. One of the reasons to substitute with an anchovy paste is, you would find a similar salty taste.

3. Can I use fish sauce as a substitute for shrimp paste?

Because the fish sauce has an umami flavor, it is simply a perfect substitute for shrimp paste.

4. Can I use miso instead of shrimp paste?

Yes, Miso can be another better alternative to a shrimp paste, which also works with curries, soups, etc.

5. Can I substitute soy sauce for shrimp paste?

Yes, you can, but you should know that soy sauce is saltier. If you have to use it anyway, use a small amount and adjust with other seasonings.

6. Can Oyster sauce be used as a substitute for shrimp paste?

Yes, oyster sauce can substitute shrimp paste to add savory umami flavor to stir-fries, sauces, and marinades.

7. Is there any way to make a vegetarian version of shrimp paste?

A vegetarian alternative to shrimp paste is possible by using dried shiitake mushrooms, kombu seaweed, or fermented tofu. These ingredients provide a similar umami flavor as shrimp paste but without the need for animal products.


Using a substitute for shrimp paste can be a great way to enjoy the flavors of Southeast Asian cuisine while accommodating dietary restrictions or personal preferences. Whether you are using miso paste, fish sauce, anchovy paste, soy sauce, Vegemite, or Marmite, many options can help you achieve similar flavors and textures in your dishes. Experimenting with different substitutes is always a good idea to find the best one for you.

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