What can I use instead of crayfish powder? The best substitutes for crayfish powder are seafood-flavored seasonings like Maggi crayfish cubes, shrimp powder, dried shrimp, shrimp paste, fish sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. To add umami flavor to vegan dishes, use soy sauce, fermented bean paste, and Maggi seasoning.
Crayfish powder is a West African seasoning consisting of roasted or dried crayfish (or shrimp), which is ground into a powder. With its salty, umami flavor, crayfish powder is ubiquitous to Nigerian cuisine, added to potatoes, soups, stews, and sauces. Here are the nine best substitutes for crayfish powder.
The Best Crayfish Powder Substitutes
Maggi Crayfish Seasoning
The most convenient substitute for crayfish powder is Maggi crayfish seasoning.
Maggi seasoning was first developed in Switzerland in the nineteenth century, consisting of hydrolyzed vegetable protein. This ingredient is high in glutamic acids, like MSG, and is an effective flavor enhancer. The current recipe also includes artificial flavoring and coloring agents.
Maggi’s crayfish seasoning contains shrimp and fish to create the distinctive seafood flavor of crayfish powder. It is available as cubes, which you can add to dishes like bouillon cubes.
Use Maggi crayfish to flavor traditional Nigerian dishes, like goat stew, ogbono soup, okpa beans, and jollof rice.
Replace crayfish powder with Maggi crayfish cubes in equal quantities. Because crayfish powder has a more intense flavor than Maggi, it tastes and adds more if necessary.
Shrimp powder makes the perfect substitute for crayfish powder.
This pink-orange powder has a robustly fishy flavor because it is made of cooked, sundried, ground shrimp. Shrimp powder is a flavor enhancer, adding an umami depth to any dish.
This seasoning is common to Asian cuisine, especially Malaysian, Indonesian, and Chinese food.
Shrimp powder is exceptionally similar to crayfish powder, with crayfish powder often containing shrimp. Add shrimp powder to rice dishes, stir-fry, spicy noodles, and coconut milk curries.
Use shrimp powder even more sparingly than crayfish powder, as it is extremely pungent. A pinch is all you need.
Another way of using shrimp instead of crayfish powder is to use dried shrimp.
Dried shrimp have been shelled, salted, and dried for use as an ingredient in Asian, Creole, and Latin American dishes. These crunchy morsels have an intensely fishy, salty taste and can be eaten as a salty snack, like potato chips.
You can make shrimp powder by blitzing the shrimp in a food processor. Use it as you would shrimp powder to enhance and develop flavor.
Dried shrimp can be rehydrated and added to other dishes, like stir-fries, okra, tofu, rice, and noodles, instead of crayfish powder.
Use whole dried shrimp to add flavor to gumbo, fish chowder, and soups – they will reconstitute in the liquid.
Replace crayfish powder with equal quantities of dried shrimp for a deep, umami flavor.
Shrimp paste is a delicious alternative to crayfish powder.
Shrimp paste is a Southeast Asian condiment made from fermented, salted shrimp. It is incredibly funky and gives any dish a shrimpy kick.
Traditional Thai shrimp paste or gapi is quite dry and firm and is an essential ingredient in Thai curry. Filipino cuisine uses Bagoon alamang, a moister and sweeter variety, as a topping for rice or fruit.
Use a dollop of shrimp paste to add flavor to Asian-style curries and sauces instead of crayfish powder. It also adds the necessary umami flavor to traditional Nigerian ogbono soup and spicy noodles.
Use half as much shrimp paste as crayfish powder, as it has a noticeably stronger flavor.
Another Asian substitute for crayfish powder is fish sauce.
Fish sauce is a popular condiment used in Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese cooking. Made from fermented, salted fish and krill, fish sauce is as pungent as shrimp paste, with a distinctively funky flavor.
Because fish sauce adds savory umami depth to dishes, use it instead of crayfish powder for Asian curries, stir-fries, noodle soups, and spicy stews. It makes a handy base for any dressing or marinade.
This substitute for crayfish powder is salty and intense, so you must use it in moderation. Too much fish sauce can overwhelm a dish completely.
A British alternative to crayfish powder is Worcestershire sauce.
Lovers of this dark brown condiment may not realize that its robust umami flavor comes from fermented molasses, vinegar, and anchovies. This relative of Asian fish sauces and pastes is not actually British; it originated in India.
This versatile, tangy sauce adds depth to meaty stews, gravy, marinades, and stir-fries. It’s also good over eggs and fries.
Worcestershire sauce looks and tastes different from crayfish powder, so experiment by adding a little at a time. It will turn your food brown.
The store-cupboard favorite, soy sauce, is a handy alternative to crayfish powder.
Used throughout Asia, this intensely salty and zesty condiment is made from fermented soybeans rather than fish. The unique fermentation process releases natural MSG, a flavor enhancer.
Although soy sauce doesn’t look or taste like crayfish powder, it performs the same function.
It adds a savory undertone to hearty soups, stews, stir-fries, and noodle dishes. It’s versatile enough to be used as a topping, a marinade ingredient, or a basting liquid for a roast.
To replace crayfish powder, add soy sauce sparingly. It is very salty and can ruin a dish if overused.
Fermented Bean Paste
A great vegan alternative to crayfish powder is fermented bean paste.
Fermented bean paste or doenjang is a chunky Korean condiment, which can be made from soy or black beans, often with chili and spices added.
Japanese and Chinese cuisines rely on miso, a fermented soybean paste that is dark and smooth. Both ingredients are robustly savory, with earthy undertones.
Use either condiment to add umami flavor instead of using crayfish powder. Fermented bean paste adds a punch to stir-fries, noodle dishes, soups, dressings, and marinades.
Either bean paste is stronger than crayfish powder, so add it with care.
Another common seasoning to replace crayfish powder is Maggi liquid seasoning.
Maggi’s original dark brown liquid seasoning is found in every African kitchen and is used generously to flavor most dishes. Cubes and powder versions are also popular.
While Maggi seasoning doesn’t have the fishy flavor that crayfish powder has, it provides the umami undertone to savory dishes.
Add it to soups, sauces, casseroles, stir-fries, eggs, and marinades. Note that it will brown the food as well as enhance the flavor.
Add the same amount as crayfish powder, adding more to taste if necessary.