Test Kitchen – The Fake Soy Sauce Reparation

Test Kitchen – The Fake Soy Sauce Reparation


Well, when we last left our hero and heroine – they had tracked down the source of a great many of Jane’s problems to certain food ingredients and combinations. At the time of the Train Ride  to Crazytown, we had only tested Soybean oil as a culprit. As it turned out – any food even barely kissed with any part of the soy bean does a number on her.

Which means… No Tofu, No Soy Flour, No Soy…well, anything – in any amount. And that meant no soy sauce… which (if you’ve seen 99% of my recipes) is a problem.

Doing my research, I came across Raw Coconut Aminos as a possible substitute. Made from fermented coconut pulp, it was supposed to be the answer. And – in all fairness – if you aren’t dealing with the issues we are, then it probably would work perfectly well for you as a “No Soy” soy sauce…. even if the after taste is a tad coconutty. (just make a lot of Polynesian dishes with it) Our problem was  it created a soy episode… on steroids; taking a full week to get it back out of her system.

There are several recipes out there for a “no – soy” soy sauce. However, all of them use either vegetable broth or beef broth as the base. AND, unless the brand you choose specifically states that it is “Soy Free” (and the majority of them aren’t) I’m still getting soy in the mix. You see, soy is a flavor enhancer. It’s added to vegetable broths and stocks to add color and that dreaded word… umami. Soybean oil is cheap, and companies that use a blended oil aren’t required to say that it does have it… just that it  .. might. And as far as the recipes go,  regardless of all the gushing going on about how wonderful they are, and how much they taste “exactly” like soy sauce… they really don’t… and most don’t even come close.


So… the Test Kitchen Challenge: Make a soy sauce substitute that it truly soy free, has enough body to stand up on it’s own or in a marinade, and gives me that satisfaction of flavor aspect that the real stuff does.

Tall order, huh…

The thought process:

1. Instead of generic broths, why not utilize the natural glutemate properties of mushrooms to base the stock and bind the flavors together.

2. To get that toastiness that a good sauce has, why not toast basmati rice to add to the steeping liquid

3. For bitterness, color, and depth of flavor – Coffee

4. For more color, and that fermented tang – Balsamic Vinegar

Here now is the updated and improved recipe.

So, I guess the big question is, “does it taste exactly like soy sauce?” And, to be completely transparent and honest…. no,  of course not – it’s made from mushrooms.

But, it does mimic soy sauce. You can use it in a marinade and be perfectly happy with the results; you can even use it for a dipping sauce for your tempura fried shrimp. It makes a fine, fine, fine fried rice (as you’ll see in a day or so), and as an ingredient in stir fry (again, I’ll show you that too in a couple of days)

“No Soy” Soy Sauce

Makes about 1 Pint


3 Cups Water

2 Cups Sliced Button Mushrooms

1 Clove Garlic – Whole and Peeled

1/4 Cup Basmati Rice

1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tablespoon Instant Coffee

1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil

1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger

1 Tablespoon Salt

Other Things You’ll Need:

Large Sauce Pan with Lid

Cheese Cloth

In the saucepan, toast the rice in the sesame oil until evenly golden brown

Add the mushrooms and the whole garlic, saute until the mushrooms have released most of their moisture and are a dark brown

Add the water, coffee, salt, ginger and vinegar, and bring to a boil – boil for 2 minutes

Reduce to simmer, cover and steep for 45 minutes

Set off the heat and allow to cool completely

Squeeze and Strain the mixture through cheese cloth and return the liquid to the sauce pan

Reduce to 1/2

Cool and store.

If you are using it  relatively quickly, it will keep about 10 days in the fridge. For longer storage, Freeze the sauce into ice trays and store in zipper bags in the freezer for up to 6 months.

2 thoughts on “Test Kitchen – The Fake Soy Sauce Reparation

  1. Toby, this is very interesting! The only soya sauce substitute that I have tried is Braggs Liquid Aminos. At first I didn’t like the taste (as you said, none of them taste exactly like soya sauce) but I have grown to like it. I have bookmarked your fake soya sauce recipe for one of those days when I can spare the time. It would be interesting to see how the taste works out 🙂

    1. Phong, as you know – the problem with Braggs is that it is made from soya beans, and any incarnation of that devil just isn’t going to work. We were both bummed to hell that the coconut aminos didn’t work out for us, either.

      Like I said up there,the mushroom method doesn’t taste like soy sauce exactly – but it’s worth a try. It has allowed us to expand the variety in dishes again…. and makes both of us very happy.

      Let me know how it turns out for you!

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