Vegetarian + Vegan eating vegan

Published on December 15th, 2010 | by Rachel Shulman


Vegan Substitute for Fish Sauce, Fish Paste, and Anchovies: Umeboshi

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eating vegan

I recently stumbled upon yet another Asian ingredient that I’ve decided is a must-have for the vegan kitchen: umeboshi paste.

Umeboshi, or pickled ume ‘plums’, are traditionally served in Japan as an accompaniment for rice. In paste form, umeboshi is intense, salty, fruity, and complex.

Umeboshi paste is a great way to add umami to vegan and vegetarian dishes, and can also be used to replace anchovies, fish paste, or fish sauce in recipes. For this reason, it’s a go-to ingredient for chefs at vegan and vegetarian restaurants.

Although I’d known about umeboshi paste for sometime now, I couldn’t find a brand that didn’t have high-fructose corn syrup or other questionable ingredients. After months of searching global food stores and Asian markets, I finally found two versions with no additives (at my local food co-op, of all places): Emperor’s Kitchen and Eden Foods.

Lately I’ve been using umeboshi paste as a substitute for fish sauce in Thai curry recipes.

I’ve also been using it to make a vegan version of the classic Provençal anchovy vinaigrette. Just whisk together one tablespoon of umeboshi paste, one tablespoon of whole-grain or Dijon mustard, three minced cloves of garlic, two teaspoons of agave nectar, six tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, and sea salt. This dressing is delicious on frisée or celery salads.

Image courtesy of tamakisono via a Creative Commons license.

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About the Author

I'm an ecologist turned journalist turned farmer-in-training. I'm currently working on an organic farm and creamery in Illinois. Follow me on twitter (, friend me on Facebook (!/profile.php?id=3105709), or follow me on StumbleUpon (

  • http://Web Danielle Paterson

    Thank you so much for posting this article, it’s a god send. I am not a vegan, however I do have serious fish and sea food allergies. My last allergic reaction was to anchovies in a wonderful pasta dish in Italy a couple of weeks ago. This article has now made it possible for me to enjoy so many great recipes especially the offending one which was so good. I hope others with a fish and sea food allergy come across this.

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  • hihorosie

    Thanks for this post! I was just wondering what to do about a Thai curry-coconut dish and didn’t want fish sauce. So thank you.

  • AikoVenus

    I never thought of using them for fish paste. Interesting.

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