What is the Best Substitute for Anchovies?

by Charlie
Substitute for anchovies

Anchovies are incredibly popular – especially in the United States. Thanks to their salty flavors, these fish-based ingredients provide an impressive way of improving the taste of your dish on several fronts. 

It’s almost impossible to find a dish without anchovies. However, there are times when you will need something else to stand in their place and give your dish that flavor jolt. Sometimes, a substitute is in order. 

What is the best substitute for anchovies? Worcestershire sauce is the most ideal substitute for anchovies for several reasons. The sauce has anchovies as part of its ingredients, so there is a lot of flavor similarity. Worcestershire sauce is also very versatile, so you can use it in different dishes pretty easily. So, it’s easy to see why Worcestershire sauce makes such a great substitute for anchovies.

An Overview of Anchovies

An anchovy is a small marine water fish that is famous in many dishes. It is usually processed in the same way as sardine, and it is used to add some much-needed flavor to a dish.

Anchovies are highly versatile, and they are famous for their fishy and salty taste. With anchovies, you will be able to give your dish a nice flavor zip. Thanks to this versatility, many people tend to use them even in place of salt in some instances.

There are different ways to consume anchovies. However, the most common are anchovy fillets, anchovy paste, and full anchovies.  If you would like to enjoy anchovies, however, it is important to watch your recipe. Anchovies can have an overwhelming taste, so you want to keep that to a minimum. Beyond that, it’s happy cooking. 

Why Substitute Anchovies? 

  • Taste differences: Sometimes, you might want to try a different flavor in your recipes – or, you could simply not like its taste. In that case, you’ll need something else. 
  • Availability: If you can’t find anchovies around and you need something to stand in its place on such short notice, a substitute will suffice as well. 

Options for Anchovies Substitutes

Best Overall Substitute for Anchovies: Worcestershire Sauce

There are many reasons why Worcestershire sauce acts as the best substitute for anchovies. One of the most prominent is the fact that Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies as one of its ingredients. In fact, anchovies are part of what gives Worcestershire sauce its impressive taste. So, you get a lot coming in. 

With the taste similarities, you should be able to use Worcestershire sauce anyhow. Worcestershire sauce also works especially in situations where you need to get a substitute for anchovy paste. It adds the same flavor and taste package, giving you a nearly identical experience. 

At the same time, you get a mixture of different liquids with Worcestershire sauce. The only prominent issue with Worcestershire sauce is that you might find some difficulties when it comes to getting it. The grocery stores close to you might not necessarily have it. 

As for proportions, you don’t have to worry about anything. Worcestershire sauce can be used in the same volume as anchovies. But, keep in mind that you will need to adjust for other seasonings that Worcestershire sauce contains – as well as the sauce’s liquid content. Once you do that, you’re well on your way to having an impressive meal. 

Great Flavor-Based Substitute: Asian Fish Sauce

Asian fish sauce is another option you want to use to replace anchovies if you’re looking to create a similar flavor package. This sauce is usually extracted from either anchovies or catfish sauce. It is accessible, natural, and very easy to work with. There is basically no downside to this option. 

Beyond its great taste, Asian fish sauce can also provide a great taste when used in your meal. It adds a lovely fragrance that will make your dish even more attractive, and there is only a small chance of it overwhelming the dish as well. 

Note that there are dishes where Asian fish sauce especially shines. You can use it in stock, soups, braises, and stews. You can also add Asian fish sauce to mixed greens and Caesar servings if you want to optimize its flavor. Be free to experiment with it as you like. Of course, the sauce’s composition means that it might not necessarily be the best for dishes like pizza. That lack of full-scale versatility just might be its only downside. 

As for the application, you don’t have anything to worry about. Use Asian fish sauce the same way you would use anchovies and have fun with your recipe. 

Best Substitute in Curries and Spice: Shrimp Paste 

Shrimp paste might not be so popular in the United States, but it has become a mainstay in Southeast Asia and many parts of China. It is made from the fermentation of ground shrimp and a little bit of salt, and it is one of the most unlikely substitutes available for anchovies. 

When you first get shrimp paste, there’s a significant chance that it will have an awful smell. But, once you add it to your dish, it immediately switches things up and improves the general taste. It’s like magic! 

Shrimp paste primarily boosts a dish’s flavor and spice. This is why it is especially popular in curries and spices. If you want to maximize the spice and flavor, you can add half a teaspoon of shrimp paste for half a teaspoon of anchovies. 

You can also add some margarine or pureed tomatoes to the combination to reduce the intensity of the shrimp paste if you would like. At the same time, several methods can help you to modify your recipe and balance out its flavor. All in all, you get a lot of upside from using shrimp paste.

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