Exploring the Top 7 Substitutes for Dried Shrimp

7 Best Dried Shrimp Substitutes

Dried shrimp is a versatile ingredient that adds a seafood-like flavor to dishes, especially in Asian cuisine. However, if you can’t find dried shrimp at your local store, there are several substitutes you can use to recreate this unique flavor profile. In this article, we will explore the seven best dried shrimp substitutes and how to use them.

1. Shrimp Paste

If you’re looking to replicate the flavor of dried shrimp, shrimp paste is an excellent substitute. It offers a delicate balance of salty and sweet flavors, along with the desirable umami flavor. Made from fermented shrimp, shrimp paste retains the incredible seafood flavor. However, it is saltier and more flavorful than dried shrimp, so you may need to cut the amount used in half. Also, dried shrimp tends to be sweeter, so a small amount of sugar may be necessary to adjust the flavor. Shrimp paste is readily available in many grocery stores, making it a convenient substitute.

2. Fish Sauce

For those seeking the fishy flavor of dried shrimp, fish sauce is a good alternative. Made from fermented fish, fish sauce can add a great seafood flavor to your dishes. It is especially useful for flavoring broths, soups, and sauces. However, fish sauce lacks the sweetness of dried shrimp, so you may need to add extra sugar to compensate. Due to its higher salt content, adjust the amount of salt added to your recipe when using fish sauce as a substitute for dried shrimp.

3. Shiitake Mushrooms

If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet and need a meat-free substitute for dried shrimp, fresh shiitake mushrooms are an excellent option. While dried shrimp adds a distinct flavor to Asian dishes, you can recreate that flavor with shiitake mushrooms. Fresh mushrooms are preferable to dried, as dried mushrooms have a stronger smell and flavor that can overpower the dish. Shiitake mushrooms offer a great umami flavor, but you may need to add extra salt and sugar to your recipe. As a general guideline, use approximately five shiitake mushrooms for each tablespoon of dried shrimp called for in your recipe.

4. Katsuobushi

Katsuobushi is a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine and can serve as a successful substitute for dried shrimp. Made from fermented, smoked and dried tuna, katsuobushi is crumbled into delicate flakes and used as a seasoning in a variety of dishes. It provides a great umami flavor, although it is not as salty or sweet as dried shrimp. You can use katsuobushi in a one-to-one ratio to replace dried shrimp in your recipes.

5. Dried Anchovies

When you want both the texture and flavor of dried shrimp, dried anchovies are an excellent substitute. Anchovies have an intense fishy flavor, and when dried, they offer a soft yet chewy texture. You can use whole dried anchovies or cut them into smaller pieces. Dried anchovies can also be ground and added to sauces and dips to enhance flavor.

6. Fried Garlic

For a vegetarian or vegan-friendly alternative to dried shrimp, crunchy pieces of minced garlic fried in oil can be a suitable option. While garlic doesn’t add a fishy flavor, it can add a nice crunch to salads and pasta dishes. Be careful not to burn the garlic while frying, as it can quickly become bitter. Once fried, drain the garlic on a piece of kitchen paper, season with salt, and allow to cool thoroughly. It can then be added to your dish as a dried shrimp alternative, possibly in combination with other substitutes from this list.

7. Kelp broth

Kelp stock is an often overlooked ingredient when it comes to cooking fish dishes, but it can be an excellent way to add a seafood-like flavor to vegan or vegetarian meals. Made by soaking dried kelp, kelp stock has a full-bodied flavor with hints of sweetness and saltiness. You can either buy ready-made kelp stock or easily make it yourself using dried kelp. Keep in mind that kelp stock has a watery texture, so you may need to reduce the amount of other liquid ingredients in your recipe to maintain the desired consistency.
In conclusion, if you can’t find dried shrimp for your recipes, there are several substitutes that can replicate its unique flavor profile. Whether it’s shrimp paste, fish sauce, shiitake mushrooms, katsuobushi, dried anchovies, fried garlic, or kelp broth, each substitute offers its own unique characteristics. By experimenting with these substitutes, you can create delicious dishes without dried shrimp.


Can these substitutes be used in any recipe that calls for dried shrimp?

Yes, these substitutes can be used in a variety of recipes, including stir-fries, soups, sauces, and salads. However, the flavor and texture may be slightly different from dried shrimp, so it’s important to adjust the amounts and other seasonings accordingly.

Are these substitutes suitable for vegetarians and vegans?

Yes, several of these substitutes, such as shiitake mushrooms, roasted garlic, and seaweed broth, are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. They offer alternative flavors and textures that can enhance your dishes without the use of dried shrimp.

How do I adjust quantities when using these substitutes?

Quantities depend on your personal taste preferences and the recipe you’re following. As a general guideline, start by using the same amount of substitute as the dried shrimp called for in the recipe and then adjust to taste. You may need to add additional salt, sugar, or other seasonings to achieve the desired flavor profile.

Where can I find these ingredients?

Many of these substitutes, such as shrimp paste, fish sauce, and dried anchovies, can be found in most grocery stores or Asian markets. Fresh shiitake mushrooms and garlic are usually available in the produce section. Kelp stock can be purchased or made at home from dried kelp.

Can I combine multiple substitutes?

Yes, you can experiment with combining different substitutes to create a more complex flavor profile. For example, you could use a combination of shrimp paste and fried garlic, or fish sauce and dried anchovies. Feel free to get creative and tailor the combination to your taste preferences and the specific dish you’re preparing.