Thai soybean paste, otherwise known as tao-jeow, is heavily used in many Thai and Korean stir fries and is the base for many dishes. It is also very popular in Chinese based dishes. Thai soybean paste is a very simple paste, made from yellow soybeans, salt, and water. Many people say that it tastes exactly like soy sauce, however it’s a bit saliter.
If you are cooking something that calls for Thai soybean paste and you just can’t seem to find it, there are some things you can use as substitutes. Miso paste, soy sauce, fermented bean paste, and tahini will all make wonderful substitutes for Thai soybean paste.
Thai Soybean Paste Substitutes
1. Miso Paste
Miso paste is a similar texture to Thai soybean paste, making it a good replacement. Miso paste is a little different from Thai soybean paste when it comes to flavor though. Miso paste has a much stronger umami flavor, however it is made from soybeans as well so you are getting the same texture with a similar underlying flavor. For things like marinades, dressings, stews, and sautees, miso paste would be an excellent replacement because it will give your dish the same texture, while only changing the flavor slightly.
2. Soy Sauce
Since Thai soybean paste tastes so much like soy sauce, that makes soy sauce an excellent substitute as well. If the flavor is what you want to keep the same in whatever dish you are making then soy sauce is your best option. Keep in mind that soy sauce is a lot thinner than Thai soybean paste. If you are making a dressing or a marinade, soy sauce may not be a good option. Soy sauce would work better for soups, stews, sautees, or a thinner marinade.
3. Fermented Bean Paste
Fermented bean paste is a bit of a general term. When you are shopping, you may see many different types of fermented bean paste and they all may have different flavors. From salted to unsalted to umami flavor, you can kind of pick and decide which one would taste more like Thai soybean paste. A salted fermented bean paste would be your best option. This is pretty much exactly like Thai soybean paste and you can use it to replace Thai soybean paste in anything you’d like!
Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. It’s a very creamy, soft texture that almost looks like peanut butter, however it tastes a little bitter and very earthy. Tahini is commonly used to make hummus, and other dips. When using tahini to replace Thai soybean sauce, it would mimic the texture almost perfectly, though it doesn’t taste exactly the same. If you wanted, a good idea would be to combine some soy sauce into the tahini first, then mix it into whatever you are making. This would give the tahini some soy flavor along with adding the salty flavor as well.
Thai soybean paste is used in many different dishes like soups, dressings, stir fries and marinades. Don’t worry if you can’t find it for your next meal because there are plenty of things you can use to substitute it!