Monday, May 2, 2011

Cooking Experiment: Soy Sauce Substitute - Take 1

As previously reported, I'm on a quest to formulate a truly low-sodium alternative to soy sauce specifically for use in my "savory oatmeal" recipe. If you've never checked the nutritional label on a bottle of soy sauce, take a look:

My habitual lunch is oatmeal flavored with soy sauce, bacon bits, and cayenne pepper. I use at least 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, so the amount of sodium is huge. No wonder it's so delicious! I considered switching to low-sodium soy sauce, but it's not that much better:

I did my first experiment last night to create a soy sauce substitute.

Soy Sauce Substitute - Take 1

  • 2/3 c. chopped ginger root
  • 2 T.  salt-free chicken bouillon
  • 1/4 c.  Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. Blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 t.  black pepper
  • 2 T.  chopped garlic
  • 2 c.  water
  • 1/4 t.  salt
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until liquified.
  2. Pour into a sauce pan and simmer very gently until reduced by 1/3. 

After blending the ingredients, the volume was 3 cups. My ceramic-top stove isn't the greatest appliance for fine temperature control, so I was very cautious while reducing the sauce. It took about 30 minutes to reduce it to 2 cups. The resulting sauce is thick--about the consistency of steak sauce. I took a taste with a spoon. The flavor profile comes mostly from the Balsamic vinegar and the finish is peppery. I'll be trying it in some oatmeal shortly.

I forgot to add fish sauce! That will hopefully go into my next experiment. Also, my grocery store only had salt-free chicken bouillon. I would have preferred beef.

Doing the math, 1 T. of this sauce contains 18.5mg sodium. I'd be willing to up the salt addition a bit if it's necessary to improve the flavor.

Post-Lunch Update

It took 3 T. of the sauce to approximate the dosage of soy sauce that I'd normally add to my oatmeal. I added the usual bacon bits and cayenne. The taste was good but very subtle. Upon taking a bite, the taste of ginger comes through along with the flavor of the oatmeal itself. Then the cayenne kicks in and dominates. This is much different from using soy sauce, which completely masks the flavor of the oatmeal.

Based on this test, I will give my next batch a little more punch.

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