Anchovy paste – It’s either you love it or hate it. For us, we encourage you to love it!
Sure, the paste might look off-putting, and it has a not-so-desirable odor, but they taste amazing when added to the suitable dishes.
That said, we understand that we can’t force people to like it (though we wish we could!), or if you can’t find it in your local supermarket.
All jokes aside, we’ve got an anchovy paste substitute list you can refer to for times like these. Read on!
What is Anchovy Paste?
Before delving into anchovy paste substitutes, let’s first talk about anchovies.
Anchovies come from the Engraulidae family of saltwater fish in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. These fish have such soft texture and a unique flavor, so we consider them a delicacy. (*)
These fish are sold as canned fillets, cured meat, or even as a paste. This makes it easy to incorporate anchovy’s flavor into soups, sauces, dressings, and many more dishes.
Because many people don’t like the smell or appearance of anchovies, anchovy paste is an excellent ingredient to retain the flavor without seeing or touching the fish.
The Best Anchovy Paste Substitutes
No anchovy pastes in your supermarket, or do you hate the ingredient? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here are suitable anchovy paste substitutes you can find in your grocery stores or kitchen.
1. Asian Fish Sauce
Asian fish sauce has a strong and pungent taste and smell. However, it’s very delicious and found in various Asian dishes.
Plus, it’s reasonably accessible; you might have it in your kitchen already, making it a very popular substitute!
Fish sauces are a good substitute for anchovy paste when preparing rice, noodles, or soup, but not for salads or dressings. You can also use this in sauces and meat dishes too.
Note that fish sauce has a robust flavor and aroma, so use it sparingly. Use only half the amount the recipe calls for, and only add more as needed!
2. Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire sauce is divine if you ask us! It’s also one of the perfect substitutes for anchovy paste for Caesar salad dressing as it’s one of the primary ingredients, along with anchovies.
We love Worcestershire sauce for its unique flavor, adding an umami taste and smell that leaves us wanting more.
You can use an equal 1:1 ratio or adjust when adding other liquid seasonings when using this alternative.
3. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is very accessible and readily available in your local supermarkets. Heck, you most likely have this ingredient at home.
This common condiment is a straightforward way to achieve the salty and umami flavors anchovy paste has. However, it is a liquid with a very different texture, so that it may change your dish’s texture or consistency.
When making a thick sauce, you can mix soy sauce with a small amount of cornstarch to thicken it up a bit.
Seaweed, particularly nori, is one of the closest substitutes for anchovy paste in terms of flavor. Nori has the similar fishy and salty flavor anchovy paste offers and is sold in dried sheets.
You can shred nori and sprinkle it on your dishes or make a paste before using it. When making nori into a sauce (called nori tsukudani), follow these steps:
- Pour 2 cups of stock in a pot, then add shredded nori sheets.
- Add a bit of soya sauce and your preferred flavorings, like mirin or sake.
- Allow the sauce to boil until all the liquid is gone.
- You’ll have a salty reduction you can use as an acceptable substitute for anchovies and its paste.
Anchovy paste has a salty flavor, which is why capers make a great alternative that brings in texture and fiber. Plus, it’s a suitable option if you are vegetarian or vegan, as it adds an umami flavor!
Capers are usually pickled in vinegar or salt, hence the similar flavor to anchovies. For every teaspoon of anchovy paste, use ½ tablespoon of capers.
We recommend using this in fish dishes, salads, and sauces. However, do remove some of its liquid before you use it, as the dish may end up being too acidic or salty.
6. Kalamata Olives or Tapenade
Kalamata olives are one of the suitable vegan substitutes for anchovy paste!
These are usually cured in red wine vinegar. Kalamata olives don’t have the same flavor as capers and anchovies, but olives have a more fruity and sweet taste.
When using Kalamata olives, use one tablespoon for one teaspoon of anchovy paste.
We like this substitute as it adds texture and color to your recipe. You can use these in salads and dressings since they pair well with fresh ingredients like vegetables.
Alternatively, you can use tapenade made from crushing olives and then mix it with seasonings and oil.
7. Umeboshi Paste
Umeboshi paste is another good alternative if you’re looking for something vegetarian or vegan!
This is a Japanese condiment made from pickled plums, traditionally a side dish paired with rice. Umeboshi paste is acidic and salty with a strong aroma, commonly used in Japanese cuisine.
To use this as an acceptable substitute, only use half the amount the recipe indicates. Because it tastes slightly different, it may change the flavor profile of your dish if you overuse it.
Umeboshi paste might be even more difficult to find unless you’re from Asia or near an Asian supermarket, though!
8. Anchovy Fillet
This may be a bit of a far stretch, but you might have anchovy fillets available at home or in your supermarket rather than the paste variety. If so, then it’s possible to use anchovy fillets or canned anchovies as a replacement.
The flavor from anchovy fillets may be slightly different since the fish wasn’t cured. If you use canned fish, olive oil and salt are added, making fish very salty.
If you plan to use this, use one anchovy fillet for every half teaspoon of anchovy paste. Adjust the amount for the salt and liquids.
You can even make homemade anchovy paste with the anchovy fillets! We’ll teach you how in the following sections, so keep on reading.
9. Make homemade anchovy paste
Yes, you can make homemade anchovy paste! Here are the steps to follow:
- Get oil-cured anchovies and mash them until it has a paste-like consistency.
- Add a pinch of salt and drizzle olive oil. Continue to mash the mixture until the paste looks smooth.
- If you want to add more flavor, add your desired herbs, seasonings, and spices for a more personalized anchovy paste.
Learn more: What Can I Substitute for File Powder?
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are frequently asked questions you can refer to as you use anchovy paste or any of its substitutes for cooking.
Wrapping It Up
Whether you’re cooking Thai dishes or need anchovies in Caesar dressing, anchovy paste is a must! But if you have none, refer to any of these options above to still whip up a fantastic dish.
We hope our list helped you out!
Check out other posts to learn more about food and cooking, whether you need a substitute or want to know more about specific ingredients.