Stock and broths, in general, are one of the most flavorful and healthy condiments in the cooking world. They aren’t so suitable for consumption on their own, but they can be incorporated into various dishes to enrich their flavor profile and change their consistency.
There are many types of stocks and the most popular ones include chicken, beef, and vegetable stock.
However, there is one type of liquid stock that goes under the radar, but it is still great when it comes to the cooking processes. It is known as fish stock or fumet and it is becoming increasingly popular in the US.
This type of stock is made from a mirepoix mix of onions, carrots, and celery, as well as fish bones and heads. Various types of fish can be used, so there are also various types of fish broth.
Fish broth is also quite versatile since it can be used in many types of dishes including marinades, sauces, stews, casseroles, soups, and poaching liquids.
Unfortunately, it is not that easy to find fish broth at the grocery store or supermarket. So, the question arises, “What are the options with which you can substitute fish stock?”. Fortunately, there are many fish stock substitutes that you can choose for your specific dish.
In this article, I tried my best to provide some excellent fish stock alternatives and to explain all the important things related to them.
How To Substitute Fish Stock: 13 Ideal Alternatives
In order to find your best substitute for fish stock, you will find the ultimate list of 13 fish stock alternatives below.
1. Seafood Stock/Seafood Broth
I will start with seafood stock or seafood broth. As you can conclude from the name of this stock, it is made from various types of seafood. The making process is exactly the same as in any other type of stock, just it is made from seafood.
The best seafood stock is one that you make at home because you can choose the ingredients you prefer. Whichever ingredients you incorporate, this stock will definitely go well with any type of fish dish because it has that fishy flavor, similar to the flavor of fish stock.
Aside from seafood stock or broth, you can also use seafood bouillon cubes or powder to substitute fish stock. They are quite easy to find at the grocery store or supermarket and they can be added to various dishes including casseroles, soups, and stews.
When substituting for fish stock, it is best to add the same amount of seafood stock or broth. The same goes for seafood cubes, powder, and paste.
2. Chicken Stock
If you are not a vegan and you want to find one great alternative to fish stock, chicken stock is definitely your best bet. Although some people might think that these two do not have similar flavor profiles and that they are not interchangeable because of that, that is actually not true.
The main reason is the fact that chicken stock or chicken broth is also made from white meat and that it doesn’t have an overwhelming flavor.
The truth is that other meat stocks or broths like beef broth, lamb broth, and pork broth, are not interchangeable with fish stock because their flavor profile is quite overwhelming, although chicken stock also has some extra salt.
But the chicken stock is perfectly fine. It also comes in different forms, including dried, liquid, and concentrate, so it can easily substitute any type of fish broth.
You can incorporate it into various types of dishes and one of my personal favorites is spicy Japanese Tan Tan Ramen.
When substituting fish broth, use the same amount of chicken broth in your dish.
3. Takumi Stock Powder
This one might be a little surprise since not many people have heard about it here in the United States. However, Takumi stock powder is very well known in Asian cuisine, especially the one used in Japan, i.e. in Japanese cuisine.
Because of that, it is not very easy to find it in ordinary grocery stores. Instead, you should look for it in your local Asian grocery store or food market. And you can also buy it online.
Once you find and incorporate it into your dish, it will provide you with an excellent combination of umami-salty flavor and hints of seafood flavor. That is exactly what you are looking for when you are trying to substitute fish stock.
The mushrooms are responsible for that specific umami flavor and, because of the kelp, you will also get those wanted hints of fish flavor.
When substituting, it is best to follow the instructions labeled on the packaging. But, if there are no instructions, it is best to mix 1 tablespoon of Takumi with 1 cup of boiling water and use that in your dish.
4. Clam Juice
If you don’t have any fish stock on hand to incorporate into your favorite fish dish, clam juice might be a great option to substitute fish stock. It is easier to find bottled clam juice at the grocery store as well.
So, when you decide to buy it and use it as an alternative to fish stock, buy one or two extra bottles because you will need them for your recipe. I am emphasizing this because, in general, you have to use 2 cups of clam juice to replace 1 cup of fish stock in the recipe.
In order to do that properly, you will need to mix your clam juice with 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable stock and simmer the mixture (uncovered) until 25% evaporates. This will provide your dish with a similar flavor profile and it will keep the liquid light and clear.
Dashi is actually a type of fish stock made from seaweed and fish flakes. It is an excellent option when you want to substitute fish stock for something very similar. The main reason lies in similar flavors.
Just like a fish stock, dashi possesses a lot of saltiness and it has that strong umami flavor that you are looking for. Aside from that, it is easier to find dashi at the grocery store or supermarket than fish stock.
And, finally, there is also the vegan version of dashi. It is made from shitake mushrooms and kombu kelp. As you can see, it contains no fish, but it will still provide you with that specific fish flavor. You can incorporate it into almost any seafood dish that you want.
6. Vegetable Stock
It is one of the favorite condiments for many home cooks. It doesn’t contain any meat, so it can be consumed by vegans. It is very healthy as well. And, it can be easily found at most grocery stores and supermarkets. It is vegetable stock and it represents a great way to substitute fish stock.
Unlike other meaty stocks like lamb or beef stock that provide your dish with different flavors, the veggie stock is kind of neutral, i.e. it tastes light and mild. The great thing is that you can always add some seasonings to add your preferred flavor.
I always say that homemade vegetable stock is the best, but it is not that easy to make it, so the store-bought one is a decent alternative as well and you should definitely go for it.
7. Soy Sauce
And here is one very common condiment that chefs and home cooks have been using for years. It is called soy sauce. Soy sauce is a very versatile ingredient that can be used in both meat and fish dishes and therefore it can serve as a decent substitute for fish stock.
However, you should be aware of its high saltiness level which can be overwhelming for your dish. Also, you have to know that soy sauce has a very high sodium content, so it is not a good idea to overdo it because of your health.
But, if you add the exact amount that the recipe calls for and you don’t overdo it with salt, it can be a great solution to substitute fish stock in every dish.
8. Miso Soup
One of the most popular soups in Japan and in Asia in general, miso soup is one healthy and flavorful soup that can be made with various different ingredients including fermented soybeans, fungus, barley, rice, etc.
The soup stock that is used for miso soup is dashi. It can be made from niboshi (dried baby sardines), katsuobushi (dried and smoked bonito fish), kombu (dried kelp), as well as dried shiitake mushrooms.
I always say that it is best to make your own homemade miso soup, but you can also buy pre-made miso soup and it will also serve you well.
One more benefit of miso soup is that it can be stored in the fridge or freezer and used in your future recipes.
When using it to substitute fish stock, it is best to use only the broth because it is concentrated enough.
9. Diluted Fish Sauce
This substitute is very logical really. Just like you can add some other types of sauces into your dish, including soy sauce or oyster sauce, you can also add fish sauce because it will provide your dish with the exact flavor that you are looking for.
However, you have to be extra careful when adding it to your dish. Because it has a different texture and a very strong flavor, you shouldn’t add too much of it to the dish.
Two tablespoons of fish sauce are enough if you want to achieve that recognizable fishy flavor.
10. Diluted Worcestershire Sauce
Although it is better known as an addition to BBQ marinades and some other culinary masterpieces in that line, Worcestershire sauce can also be used as a substitute for fish stock.
The main reason for that is the fact that it can give your dish those fishy undertones that you are looking for because it contains fish in its original recipe.
Aside from fishy undertones, this specific sauce adds a strong savory tang to your dishes as well.
Because of that, it is recommended to add small amounts of Worcestershire sauce to your dishes because high amounts can be overwhelming.
11. Seaweed Stock
If you are a vegan and, at the same time, like those umami and salty flavors, seaweed stock is a perfect solution for your dish. There are many types of seaweed stocks based on the type of seaweed itself, so there are options for everyone’s taste buds.
Some of the most popular types include Wakame, Kombu, Nori, Hijiki, and Dulse.
However, if you are substituting it for fish stock, I would recommend you use Kombu stock because it is very similar in flavor. Wakame stock is also a good alternative.
Since it is quite hard to find fresh seaweed stock on the market, it is best to make your own at home. It is quite easy to prepare. You only have to boil some seaweed with mushrooms and onions and your seaweed stock is ready for use.
12. Shellfish Stock
Although some people might think that shellfish and fish stock are the same thing because shellfish is also a type of fish, there are some differences between these two. As the differences are not many, shellfish can be a great substitute for fish stock.
So, instead of ordinary fish, some types of shellfish are used in this stock. That shellfish includes crab, shrimp, mussels, etc. and they will also provide your dish with that specific fishy flavor.
The process of making shellfish is very similar to making fish stock. The only difference is that you have to carefully clean your shellfish because most shellfish are sea-bottom dwellers and can be contaminated with all sorts of debris.
Also, you have to be aware of the fact that many people have shellfish allergies that can cause various health problems if they consume them.
So, be very careful!
13. Homemade Fish Stock
And, finally, making your own fish stock at home is always a great option. Since it is not always that easy to find store-bought fish stock, many people tend to do this instead. And it is a very logical thing to do since it is quite easy to make fish stock yourself.
There are a few ingredients that you will need.
• 2 pounds of white fish bones (halibut or other white fish)
• 1 sliced leek
• 1 sliced onion
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 thyme sprigs
• 2 parsley springs
• 4 black peppercorns
There are only a few steps that you need to follow.
STEP 1: You first need to carefully clean the fish bones.
STEP 2: After that, you will put them into a container alongside other ingredients and 10 cups of cold water.
STEP 3: Use the high heat to boil the water with the rest of the other ingredients and let it simmer for about half an hour. Removing any scum from the surface while the stock simmers is essential. If you are using fatty fish, gelatin may appear on the top, so you should skim it off if you don’t want to use it in the dish.
STEP 4: After that time frame, it is time to strain the stock until you obtain only the liquid.
STEP 5: And, finally, you can store the liquid in the fridge to cool down. The stock will remain good for up to 5 days if stored properly in the fridge.
What Is Your Favorite Fish Stock Substitute?
Choosing the right substitute for your dish in case you don’t have the ingredient from the original recipe, is probably the most important task in the whole process. So, when you are making some kind of fish dish and trying to substitute fish stock, choosing the right alternative is essential.
This article is written to help you find the substitute for fish stock that will satisfy your dish, as well as the taste buds of yours and all other people who will be enjoying it.
So, your only task is to take a look at these incredible fish stock alternatives, learn all the essential things about them, and choose the one that is most suitable. And I am sure that you won’t go wrong.