Fish Sauce Vs Soy Sauce (Differences, Uses, Which Is Better + More)

Fish sauce and soy sauce are popular ingredients in Asian recipes because they easily elevate the flavors of many recipes.

However, you may be wondering what the difference is between soy sauce and fish sauce. Well, I did the research, and here are the facts that I learned!

Fish Sauce Vs Soy Sauce

Fish sauce is a type of sauce created from fermented fish and salt while soy sauce is a sauce made from fermented soybeans. Fish sauce and soy sauce are both savory and salty liquids, but they have very distinct flavors and different uses in the kitchen. For seasoning purposes, fish sauce and soy sauce can be substituted for each other.

Do you want to learn more about soy sauce and fish sauce? Check out the rest of the article to find out!

What Is Fish Sauce?

Fish sauce is a liquid condiment that is made from fermented fish, creating a very salty, savory, and briny sauce.

Additionally, fish sauce has a very strong and pungent odor that is very distinct because of the way the fish sauce is made.

Typically, small fish such as anchovies get coated in salt then put into big barrels to ferment for several months.

What Is Soy Sauce?

Soy sauce is another liquid condiment created by fermenting soybeans, water, salt, and wheat for several months or years.

Normally, soy sauce is a salty and savory sauce, but there are so many variations of soy sauce that can have sweet, sour, and bitter flavors.

Moreover, soy sauce usually has a liquid consistency, but certain types of soy sauce like sweet soy sauce have a thicker texture.

What’s The Difference Between Soy Sauce And Fish Sauce?

Fish sauce and soy sauce have different ingredients because fish sauce is made from small fish whereas soy sauce is made from soybeans.

Plus, there are much more varieties of soy sauce whereas there are only a few kinds of fish sauce.

Additionally, fish sauce has a very pungent and fishy odor while soy sauce tends to smell similar to beer or alcohol.

It is also important to note that fish sauce is used very sparingly because the fish sauce can easily overwhelm a dish while people can add a lot of soy sauce to their recipes.

What Do Soy Sauce and Fish Sauce Have In Common?

Fish sauce and soy sauce were both invented as ways to stretch salt because salt used to be an expensive commodity.

Moreover, fish sauce and soy sauce are both fermented liquid condiments with a variety of uses in the kitchen.

Additionally, soy sauce and fish sauce are salty and savory sauces that can enhance dishes, but they still have distinct flavors.

What Is Fish Sauce Used For?

What Is Fish Sauce Used For?

Fish sauce is normally used as a seasoning to add extra saltiness and savoriness to dishes like pad thai.

Plus, fish sauce is also used to add more flavor to stews and soups, dress veggies, and marinate meats.

However, it is important to only add a little fish sauce at a time because the fish sauce has a very strong flavor and smell.

What Is Soy Sauce Used For?

Soy sauce is normally added directly into your food while you cook as a seasoning and coloring for many recipes.

However, soy sauce is very versatile, so you can use it as a dip, marinade, glaze, and much more.

Moreover, how you use soy sauce will depend on what kind of soy sauce you have since each soy sauce has a different taste, color, and consistency.

For example, dark soy sauce is excellent for stir-fries because dark soy sauce adds a deeper color to the food while adding flavor.

On the other hand, a light soy sauce works best to merely season food because light soy sauce is salty but very light in color.

Which Is Better, Fish Sauce Or Soy Sauce?

Typically, soy sauce is better than fish sauce because soy sauce works in more recipes than fish sauce.

Moreover, soy sauce does not taste as strong as fish sauce, meaning soy sauce can meld into recipes better than fish sauce.

Additionally, soy sauce can be better than fish sauce if you do not like the strong and pungent odor of fish sauce.

However, fish sauce and soy sauce can shine in different recipes, so the fish sauce is still worth getting if you want to make dishes like curry.

Can Fish Sauce Replace Soy Sauce?

Fish sauce can be a substitute for soy sauce because the fish sauce has salty and savory flavors like soy sauce.

However, fish sauce is an amber-colored sauce whereas most soy sauces are a dark brown color, meaning fish sauce cannot add color to recipes.

Moreover, you will likely need to add less fish sauce if you want to replace soy sauce because fish sauce is much stronger tasting than soy sauce.

Can Soy Sauce Replace Fish Sauce?

Similar to fish sauce, you can use soy sauce to replace fish sauce, especially if you need a salty and savory taste in your dish.

Unlike fish sauce, you can use soy sauce in an even 1:1 ratio to replace fish sauce since the fish sauce has a stronger flavor. You may need to add more soy sauce or other seasonings.

However, soy sauce can change the color of your dish because most soy sauces are darker than fish sauce.

Therefore, you may want to opt for light soy sauce as a fish sauce substitute because light soy sauce has a lighter color and a saltier flavor than other soy sauces.

Can I Use Soy Sauce And Fish Sauce Together?

You can use fish sauce and soy sauce together if you want to add a deep and savory flavor to your recipe, and they are commonly used together in recipes like pad thai and other Thai recipes.

Check out our related articles to learn how soy sauce is used in Thai cooking, if soy sauce is vinegar, and when was soy sauce invented.


Fish sauce and soy sauce are fermented liquid condiments that are salty and savory, but they have unique tastes and uses in cooking.

You can substitute soy sauce and fish sauce for each other in certain recipes, particularly if you need to season your dishes, but they are not perfect alternatives for every recipe.

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