Shrimp Paste Substitute (Alternative and Replacement)

Do you love the powerful, umami-filled flavor that shrimp paste adds to soups, curries, and other dishes?

Are you looking for an alternative or replacement to shrimp paste due to allergy or dietary restrictions?

Don’t worry — there are some excellent substitutes available that provide similar flavors!

From vegan miso pastes and fish sauces all the way to Chinese fermented black bean sauce, this blog post will explore different options for a tasty substitution for shrimp paste in your favorite recipes.

Read on to find out how each substitute brings its own unique taste and texture to any dish while maintaining great umami appeal.

What is Shrimp Paste and how it is used?

Shrimp paste is a widely used condiment that provides a unique umami flavor. It is made from fermented ground shrimp and salt, which gives it an intense, salty, fishy taste.

Shrimp paste is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisines as an ingredient in dishes such as sambal belacan and congee.

It can also be added to marinades to give them an extra punch of flavor or used as the base for dipping sauces suited for seafood-based dishes.

It has a very strong smell and should be stored in airtight containers away from sunlight to prolong its shelf life.

With its intense salinity, shrimp paste can truly enhance any dish if you’re looking for something different that also packs a punch of robust flavor.

Nutrition facts and benefits of Shrimp Paste

Shrimp paste is a popular condiment made from fermented ground shrimp and salt that’s commonly used in Southeast Asian and Chinese dishes.

It has a strong, pungent flavor that can add depth to sauces, marinades, or soups.

Although it might not seem like it contains many nutrients, shrimp paste does provide important vitamins and minerals as well as healthy fats. It’s an excellent source of protein, selenium, zinc, and vitamin B12.

Additionally, the fatty acids in shrimp paste help reduce inflammation and promote brain growth and development.

As with any ingredient high in sodium content, it should be consumed in moderation to help control blood pressure levels.

All in all, shrimp paste is a nutritious addition to many dishes that can offer numerous health benefits.

Why and when to use substitutes for Shrimp Paste?

If a recipe calls for shrimp paste it’s good to know that there are possible substitutes you can use in its place.

In some regions and cultures, shrimp paste is hard to find or is considered too strong for milder palates.

There are viable replacements available made from fish, anchovy, and soya bean, which can add umami flavorings to dishes without relying on shrimp paste.

When substituting for shrimp paste, it’s important to remember that the amount used might need adjustment for the same depth of flavor that comes with using traditional ingredients.

As long as the taste and texture of the dish aren’t compromised by the substitution, making a change can be a great way to widen your cooking repertoire and give you something new to try out!

Shrimp Paste Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements

For individuals who are seeking a substitute for shrimp paste, there are a number of alternatives that can be used to add a savory taste to cooked dishes.

Fish sauce is a common and popular replacement for shrimp paste as it provides the same umami flavor.

Other options include anchovy paste, dried razor clams, kecap manis, and soy sauces.

If you can’t find any of these or buy them in your local grocery store, then you can also make replacements at home using ingredients such as mushrooms and miso.

While homemade substitutes do not always provide exactly the same tastes as their traditional counterparts, they are worth experimenting with if you are interested in adding unique flavors to your cooking.

The best replacements and substitutes for Shrimp Paste

Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a popular ingredient in many Southeast Asian dishes, that is made by fermenting fish with salt and water.

Fish sauce has a strong, salty flavor and is often used as a dipping sauce or to add flavor to soups and stir-fries.

Fish Sauce and Shrimp paste are both common Southeast Asian ingredients used to give dishes a salty, umami flavor.

They are both made with marine life, but whereas shrimp paste is made with fermented ground or whole shrimp, fish sauce is made with fermented anchovies or other small fish.

Both versions are present in many dishes of Southeast Asian cuisine, however, Fish Sauce can be used when preparing food for someone who wouldn’t consume Shrimp due to dietary restrictions.

Although they are slightly different flavors and textures, they both work wonderfully as a substitute for each other if you fancy taking your culinary skills in even more exciting directions.

Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is made from oysters that have been simmered in water and then strained.

The resulting liquid is then combined with sugar, salt, and sometimes soy sauce or other seasonings. Oyster sauce has a sweet and savory flavor and is often used as a marinade or dipping sauce.

Oyster sauce is an often overlooked alternative to traditional shrimp pastes. It has an analogous flavor profile that hits similar notes, like saltiness and umami, while avoiding the fishy intensity of the seafood-based ingredient.

Oyster sauce also consists of fewer ingredients, making it easier to work with in various recipes.

Still, for dishes that need a more intense seafood character, using the oyster sauce as a replacement for shrimp paste would be inappropriate – a substitution of one for the other should primarily be based on availability and personal taste preference.

Wherever possible, however, oyster sauce is a great choice when seeking a good substitute for shrimp paste.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is a thick, reddish-brown sauce that is made from soybeans, garlic, chili peppers, and sugar. It is commonly used as a dipping sauce or to add flavor to stir-fries and other dishes.

When a recipe calls for shrimp paste but you don’t have any, Hoisin Sauce is an excellent substitute. While both ingredients are dark and sweet condiments, they do differ in a few ways.

Shrimp paste is saltier and savory while Hoisin sauce has a sweeter and less salty flavor profile, as it contains vinegar and garlic.

Additionally, Hoisin sauce has significantly fewer calories than traditional Shrimp paste.

When opting for the latter over shrimp paste in a recipe, use it sparingly to produce the desired results without overpowering other flavors or turning a dish overly sweet.

Sweet Chili Sauce

Sweet chili sauce is a popular condiment in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.

It is made from chili peppers, vinegar, sugar, and other seasoning and has a sweet and spicy flavor and can be used as a dipping sauce or to add flavor to dishes.

Sweet Chili Sauce is a great substitute for Shrimp paste, as they are quite similar in taste and texture. Both provide great sour and spicy flavors to dishes, so Sweet Chili Sauce can be used whenever a recipe calls for Shrimp paste.

The difference between the two is that Sweet Chili Sauce has a sweeter tang to it compared to the saltiness of Shrimp paste, so recipes should be adjusted accordingly by adding extra spices or herbs if necessary.

As to when this substitution should be made, generally, it is up to personal preference.

However, Sweet Chili Sauce may be a more appropriate switch in dishes where Shrimp paste’s intense salty flavor overwhelms other ingredients.

Sriracha Sauce

Sriracha sauce is a popular hot sauce that originated in Thailand made from chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Sriracha sauce has a fiery hot flavor and is often used as a condiment.

Sriracha Sauce is a great alternative to Shrimp paste, as they both bring the same level of heat and deliciousness.

While Sriracha Sauce is made from pickled chili peppers and contains garlic, vinegar, sugar, and salt, Shrimp paste is created from krill or shrimp that are mixed with salt.

Despite the different ingredients, they share similar flavor profiles with their spicy and salty notes. Sriracha especially stands out for its much more subtle sweetness derived from the mixture of ground chilies, garlic, and sugar.

When deciding between using Sriracha or Shrimp paste in your dish, it largely depends on the desired balance between acidity and sweetness.

If you want something to be slightly more acidic in taste without being too sweet then opting for shrimp paste might be better, whereas if you’re hoping for something less acidic but still containing that nose-tingling spiciness then choosing Sriracha would be ideal.

The best part about substituting Sriracha Sauce for Shrimp Paste is that it has become an attainable pantry staple in many countries around the world!


Anchovies and shrimp paste both offer a salty, umami flavor to dishes, making them similar in terms of taste.

However, when it comes to texture, anchovies are softer and brighter with an oily quality that shrimp paste does not have.

The best way to use anchovies as a substitute for shrimp paste is in sauces or marinades where the texture won’t be noticed as much.

For recipes that require chunks of shrimp paste such as Thai curry pastes or Bun Bo Hue soup, another ingredient like dried shrimp should be used instead.

Dried Razor Clams

Dried razor clams are a great substitute for shrimp paste in recipes.

Their umami flavor is a great alternative to the pungency of shrimp paste, and their texture adds an extra layer of interest to dishes.

Dried razor clams are widely available in Asian markets and can be rehydrated before use.

They can be easily incorporated into stir-fries, salads, curries, and even spaghetti sauces.

So the next time you’re looking for an alternative to traditional shrimp paste, consider dried razor clams!

Miso Paste

If you’re looking to replace shrimp paste in a recipe, miso paste is a great alternative. While their flavors are different, both pastes enhance and deepen the flavor of some recipes.

Miso paste is made from fermented soybeans, whereas shrimp paste usually consists of ground shrimp and salt.

In terms of texture and consistency, miso paste is smoother than shrimp paste which gives it a richer taste with depth and complexity to any dish.

When deciding if miso paste can be used as an effective substitute for shrimp paste in a recipe, consider how important the flavor profile will be and how much heat or spice would need to be added.

Overall, many dishes can benefit from incorporating the complex flavor of miso paste when replacing shrimp paste!

Bonito Flakes

Bonito Flakes and Shrimp paste have some similarities in terms of their umami flavor, however, for the most part, they are quite different.

Bonito Flakes come from bonito fish and are made from dried, smoked skipjack tuna that has been shaved into thin strips. Shrimp paste is made from fermented shrimp or krill combined with salt.

When using Bonito Flakes as a substitute for Shrimp paste, it is important to note that while they do have the savory umami notes that you would receive from Shrimp paste, the flavors will be more subtle.

Bonito Flakes should only be a substitute if an exact duplicate flavor cannot be found due to its scarcity.

Kecap Manis

Kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) is the perfect substitute for shrimp paste due to its sweet and salty flavors combined with a complex, gingery note.

Substituting kecap manis for shrimp paste can add an interesting twist to various cuisines, such as Thai and Vietnamese.

When used in small amounts, it provides a flavor boost without overpowering dishes.

Moreover, kecap manis has numerous health benefits associated with it; studies have shown that it helps improve heart health and enhances bone mass density among many other important things.

So the next time you’re looking for a substitute for shrimp paste, consider trying out kecap manis—you won’t be disappointed!

Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

Dried Shiitake Mushrooms are becoming an increasingly popular substitute for Shrimp paste in recipes.

Although the two ingredients have quite a few similarities, like their umami flavor or versatility in cuisines, they also have notable differences.

While both hits can be used to enhance the depth and gentle sweetness of dishes, Shrimp paste is primarily more pungent and provides a slightly more complex level of flavor than Shiitake mushrooms.

When looking for a replacement for Shrimp paste, dried Shiitake mushrooms’ simplicity makes them a great choice for incorporating its subtle flavors without overwhelming other notes in the dish.

Fermented Chinese Black Beans

Fermented Chinese Black Beans and Shrimp paste share some similarities in their roles as condiments, such as an umami flavor that works well in many sauces and marinades.

But there are significant differences between them. Fermented Chinese Black Beans are much saltier due to their salty brine, and they also have a more intense flavor compared to the milder taste of Shrimp paste.

Some chefs opt for using Fermented Chinese Black Beans when a dish needs more flavor without increasing the salt content too much, or if a recipe calls for certain seasonings that aren’t found in Shrimp paste.

Overall, Fermented Chinese Black Beans can make a great substitute for Shrimp paste as long as it is used carefully.

Dashi powder

Dashi powder and shrimp paste have some similarities, but they have distinct differences that are important to be aware of when it comes to making substitutions.

Both seasonings contain salt, and provide umami flavor and a touch of sweetness, though shrimp paste is also slightly tangy.

However, shrimp paste has a much more intense fish flavor and odor not found in dashi powder which is often made with kombu seaweed and bonito flakes; both components impart an earthiness not found in shrimp paste.

When deciding if dashi powder can be used as a substitute for shrimp paste, consider how much the fishy taste influences the dish and for recipes that call for small amounts, it may work well as a substitute.

Dashi can also be used as an alternative in dishes where the pungent flavor of the shrimp paste isn’t desired.


Seaweed is becoming a popular replacement for shrimp paste as both have a unique umami or “savory” taste.

Those looking to reduce their consumption of seafood can replace shrimp paste with seaweed in many dishes, while still getting the same flavor profile.

The main difference between seaweed and shrimp paste is the salt content; typically seaweed has less than its fishy counterpart, so adding more to recipe instructions may be necessary.

Additionally, because of its water content, using fresh seaweed instead of dried seaweed flakes will potentially yield better results.

Ultimately, choosing when to use either ingredient depends on personal preference but overall, when used correctly, Seaweed can serve as an acceptable substitute for Shrimp paste.

Homemade shrimp paste

Homemade shrimp paste has been used across Asia for centuries and is a strong but delicious seasoning when used in recipes.

It is made from finely ground dried shrimp that are then combined with salt and fermented for up to 48 hours, giving it a unique flavor.

Although it can be difficult to get the perfect balance between the salinity of the shrimp and the texture of the paste, the reward of adding such depth and complexity to your favorite dishes makes it worth the effort!

Even those with limited cooking experience can master homemade shrimp paste in no time by following any number of easy-to-follow tutorials.

Making your own shrimp paste is easy and surprisingly rewarding. Even if you have never cooked with seafood before, you can still make a delicious paste that packs a flavorful punch.

Start by mixing raw shrimp with seasonings such as chili peppers, sugar, and lime juice to form the base of your homemade paste.

Next, mix in garlic, shallots, and fish sauce for an extra boost of flavor and aroma. Once everything is blended together, begin cooking over low heat until the desired consistency is achieved.

Serve the final product with fresh bread or crackers for a homemade treat that will satisfy both seafood fanatics and novices alike!

Alternative products to shrimp paste can be used as a replacement in many recipes. If you are looking for an alternative product to use in place of shrimp paste, there are several options available.

Each option has its own set of pros and cons, so be sure to choose the best option for your needs.

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