Shortly after Soy became an ugly four – letter word in our house (okay… 3, but it’s still a terrible thing), I was convinced I could produce a fake soy sauce that would mimic the properties, taste and joy of the luscious dark brown elixir. I’m here to tell you – I can’t…. And, neither can you.
There is an army of crazy people out there that believes just because it looks like soy sauce… you can trick people into thinking it actually tastes like it. I fell into their trap; mixing balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and instant coffee – – – Roasting mushrooms and steeping them in beef broth, or this attempt, expressing the
heavenly ( garbage )mixtures into soy-free nirvana – – –
Fake soy sauce has become the culinary equivalent of the alchemist transmutation of lead into gold… it can’t be done.
However… that isn’t to say that finding a suitable medium (like chickpeas, or lentils), then submitting them to rigorous fermenting, salting, and aging (like a traditional soy or tamari) can’t be done… in fact it has. There is a small company in Japan that produces the stuff…. however, they don’t speak English (I don’t speak Japanese), they aren’t terribly adept at the internet as their site is constantly crashing, and posing a translated question (request) in Japanese via email results in a single “?” on the return. A friend offered to be the go-between in the transaction. By the time freight, Import/export, customs.. and whatever random charges the company decided to levy came into play; the cost was over $98.00 for roughly a 7 ounce bottle.
Pardon my French…. but, screw that. (Jane reads the blog, otherwise it would have been a string of F, C, M, B, W words.)
I also have to mention that David Chang, of Momofuku fame, has created a line of soy-free sauces, and miso from these heady ingredients. Sadly, unless he gets off his ass and opens a factory to produce them…. or counts me among one of his favorite friends (I’m not, by the way), I’ll never see a bottle. He only produces enough for use in his own establishments and to gift out to the very lucky.
So, dear friends…. I’m relegated to finding other avenues… like Imitation Soy Sauce. In that arena, there are 3… Glicks, Leiber’s, and Haddar… and frankly, ingredient-wise they’re all exactly the same. About half the salt as regular soy sauce, they are a concoction of broths and flavorings with a touch of MSG (oh.. hush up….. even real soy sauce has a good measure of naturally occurring glutamates.)
It works perfectly fine in a marinade, or mixing with a dab of wasabi for your sushi dip. Does it taste like soy sauce? The answer is… Enough. It’s better than any of those make-it-yourself slurries choking up the internet-o-web-o-verse-o-thing, and you can pretend its soy sauce…. only lighter, less salty. What really comes to mind is Thai Golden Mountain Sauce… which is a watered down soy sauce… basically.
Our attempt with it was to create a Marinade and basting liquid for some Pork Spare Ribs. The were quite simply… tasty. Even using 1/2 Cup of the Haddar Sauce, they felt slight on the soy flavor. You can see I bolstered the flavors by using additional seasonings… but, even for a regular marinade you wouldn’t just have soy.