Home cooks from around the world know that soy sauce lends a wonderfully mysterious, almost smoky flavor to foods. There are a number of alternatives to the ubiquitous, dark-brown soy sauce available in Chinese restaurants. These include liquid aminos, which are also dark brown and, like soy sauce, offer a number of health benefits; tamari sauce; and low-salt soy sauce. Individuals with high blood pressure, allergies to gluten, or who just find the taste of soy sauce a bit overwhelming may find these soy sauce substitutes work better for them.
Liquid amino sauce has been available in health food restaurants and groceries stores for decades. The taste is very close to that of soy sauce; it lends a salty, deep note to foods. There are a number of reasons cooks might turn to this relatively expensive choice among soy sauce substitutes. Not only is liquid amino sauce low in salt, but it is also contains no gluten because of the way it is manufactured. The presence of a multitude of amino acids mean this healthy alternative is rich in protein.
Tamari sauces can be used as soy sauce substitutes as well. Like soy sauce, they are made from soybeans but contain no added wheat products, so they, like liquid aminos, are gluten free. In taste, tamari is a little lighter than soy sauce, although the flavor is nearly identical. Miso, which is fermented soybean paste brimming with probiotics, is the base for tamari, which means this sauce, too, not only flavors food but adds a healthy touch. Tamari is readily available both in health food sections and on the Asian food shelves of most grocery stores.
For the cook who is caught without soy sauce when a marinade or stir-fry calls for it, homemade soy sauce substitutes are at the ready. One requires only steak sauce and water. One part steak sauce to four parts water yields a similar rich, dark flavor that does a good imitation of traditional soy sauce.
Another homemade variation uses red wine vinegar or darker, stronger balsamic vinegar in addition to honey and water. A little minced ginger and an equal amount of minced ginger with a quick shake of pepper and sea salt are all it takes to mix up a serviceable and delicious alternative to soy sauce. Whether the home cook is hunting for soy sauce substitutes because of health concerns or because there’s no traditional soy sauce in the house, finding acceptable substitutes is easy.