Need a Fish Stock Substitute?

When it comes to cooking, you’ll need to make sure that you use the quality ingredients to have the delicious results. But there will be times you won’t be able to use the exact ingredients, like fish stock. While this ingredient is great for many types of broths or soups, you might need a fish stock substitute in a pinch.

So if you’re wondering what to use or add to your recipes to achieve the similar taste and consistency for your dishes, then read on. I’ll be talking about everything you need to know about fish stock, as well as the alternatives you can use.

Need a Fish Stock Substitute? The Best You Need to Try Today

What is Fish Stock?


What is fish stock in the first place? Just like what the name suggests, this ingredient is used as a base for soups or sauces. The stock is similar to other meat or vegetable stock, but it’s made out of fish heads or fish bones. It’s very simple to make, only requiring certain parts of the fish and without any other ingredient but a bit of seasoning.

There are a few variations of fish stock, with the Japanese version being a popular one. This fish stock is called dashi, which is a fish and kelp stock used as a side for dishes. The end product is a milky white broth with a rich, sweet umami flavor to it.

No matter the variation, fish stock is prepared the same way. You boil fish bones or heads in simmering water for less than half an hour, which brings out the seafood flavor many people look for in individual dishes.

You can purchase fish bullion cubes from your local supermarket, or you can opt to make your fish stock from scratch with any unused fish bones or heads.

Stock vs. Broth

You have probably heard of broth before, often interchanging it for stock. But there is a huge difference between both!

It’s important to know the difference to avoid using the wrong ingredient in your recipe, destroying its consistency or taste.

Depositphotos_67488307_sThe significant difference between stock and broth would be how it’s made. While the stock is made out of bones, the broth is a liquid with any meat or vegetables in it. Broth can contain different types of meat and vegetables, allowing you to consume it alone or as a side.

As for the stock, it’s a liquid with bones simmered for a long time, extracting more gelatin and flavor. Roasted bones will make it even better.

Another main difference between both broth and stock would be the seasoning added. The broth has the seasoning to allow people to consume it on its own. As for the stock, you only add a bit of seasoning such as salt or pepper, even a bit of wine to make it drinkable as well. But for the most part, the stock is added to other dishes.

What Do You Use Fish Stock For?

There are many uses for fish stock, usually for soups and sauces (as mentioned). There are many dishes from all over the world the requires fish stock, especially in Asian cuisine.

MetabolismBut did you know that there is more to fish stock than just enhancing flavors? Many types of stock have benefits you can take advantage of, such as:

    • Metabolism

The stock provides a thyroid hormone to help boost metabolism, as well as the gelatin needed to help maintain your metabolism levels and keep you properly burning calories. That way, you can maintain and lose weight efficiently.

    • Thyroid

The stock all focuses about the thyroid, which helps aid in various illnesses and conditions such as bone loss, fatigue, skin health, and even improving the way you think!

    • Healthy

All meat stocks contain a substantial amount of protein and natural nutrients that aid in keeping your immune system up and running.

Fish Stock Substitute: The Two Alternatives You Can Use

If you can’t find fish stock near you or you can’t prepare your stock with fish, then here are some substitutes you can use:

Clam Juice and Other Seafood

You can try this recipe if you want a seafood taste but have no fish bones available:


  • One cup of homemade or low-sodium chicken stock
  • Two cups of clam juice
  • Shells from a pound of shrimp (You can also use other types of shellfish such as crab or mussels as well)
  • Four black peppercorns
  • A small bay leaf

Simply combine all the ingredients and leave it simmering for about twenty minutes. Strain out the shells, peppercorn, and bay leaf. You may add salt if needed.

If you have no shrimp, then you can use clam juice or broth instead, cooking it in an open pot to make it liquid and still packed with the seafood flavor.

Other Types of Stock- Meat and Vegetables

Other Types of Stock- Meat and Vegetables

If you have no fish stock available in your local grocery or if you’re allergic to seafood, then you can opt to use other types of meat stock, such as beef or chicken. The vegetable stock will work as well. Take note that this would alter the flavors a bit, though it will have a similar consistency.

You can either let animal bones simmer to create your stock or you can purchase ready-made cubes to use quickly. Use four cups of meat stock and mix it in with about half a cup of clam juice for a seafood flavor.

If you want to make a substitute for a dashi, then the chicken stock will work best. If you are vegetarian, create a vegetable broth mixed with mushrooms, Bonito flakes, and seaweed to achieve the umami flavor. Add a touch of mirin and soy sauce for better seasoning.

Tips on Using Stock for Your Recipes

Now that you know what you can use as a fish stock substitute for various dishes, the next question is: How can you make it taste better? Here are some tips when using fish stock or any of its substitutes:

  • If you plan on using other types of meat stock, then you can roast its bones for an even more gelatinous and flavorful result.
  • Make sure to roast it for 20 to 25 minutes maximum. Anything longer than that would ruin its flavor and consistency.
  • If you notice a different color, then don’t fret. Expect the broth to be the color of ingredients you put in the liquid. You’re focusing more on the flavor than the looks!
  • When using vegetable stock as an alternative, avoid anything starchy, such as potatoes. Avoid adding too many strong vegetables such as garlic, as they will compromise on taste.
  • To make quality and good stock, you must use the freshest and finest ingredients. Be sure to use quality animal bones that come from legitimate meat shops.
  • Remember to skim your stock and avoid it from boiling. Strain it right after and cool it off immediately. Do so by putting your pot of stock on top of another pot with cold water and ice. You can then store stock inside the fridge or freezer for later use, lengthening its lifespan.

In Conclusion

Fish stock has many benefits and adds more flavor to your recipes, but you might need to replace it for various reasons. That’s why it’s best to be knowledgeable about the different substitutes you can use just in case the recipe calls for it. That way, you won’t waste time or have a hard time achieving the ideal results for your dish.

I hope that this article helps you find the perfect fish stock substitute to use for your next recipes. So what are you waiting for? If you need the fish stock but have none on hand, then choose a fish stock substitute to use today and enjoy!

If you have any questions or would like to share any tips when making a fish stock substitute, then comment down below. I would love to hear what you have to think.

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