Mention soy sauce to most people and their first thought is Chinese food, which is a natural as soy sauce is a Chinese condiment that has been used for centuries. However, the uses for this versatile flavoring only begin with Chinese food but has the ability to do so much more. Soy sauce, with its smoky, salty flavor makes a great addition to marinades, brines as well as a variety of dipping sauces. Even those uses are only the beginning of soy sauce’s usefulness, so keep reading for more uses for this condiment.
Soy sauce has a history that spans back to around 300 A.D. The dark brown soy sauce found in most supermarkets and most people are familiar with is the Japanese dark soy sauce. Another variety that is gaining popularity is light soy sauce, which is dark soy sauce combined with Mirin, a sweet rice wine, for a light soy sauce which is also slightly sweeter. As interest in soy sauces expands, Chinese varieties of soy sauce in both light and dark can be found in some Asian markets.
The name soy sauce is a bit of a misnomer for most commercial soy sauces, as they are not made strictly with soybeans. Many are produced with wheat as well as soybeans. However, tamari, Japanese soy sauce, is made with little to zero wheat, making it a welcome substitute for those looking for gluten free soy sauces. Careful label reading is in order before assuming a product is safe for those with gluten issues.
Unopened soy sauce should be stored in a cool, dark place, but once opened, it should be stored in the refrigerator. Soy sauce, even those labeled reduced sodium, contains a great deal of salt. This is a plus as long as caution is used when using soy sauce to season a dish. A savvy cook will start with a small amount then taste as he or she goes to prevent over salting a meal.
Here are seven uses for soy sauce, but these are just the beginning, so let these seven uses spark culinary creativity.
1. Why wait for delivery or go out to a restaurant when Chinese food can be made at home? Stir-fries are an easy way to get started but most Chinese food dishes are easily prepared at home and a great place to start when looking for uses for soy sauce.
2. Substitute soy sauce for salt. While not a direct alternative to salt, soy sauce can be used in many savory dishes instead of salt. In addition, unlike salt, soy sauce adds a multitude of other flavors to dishes.
3. Give snacks an Asian flair with soy sauce. Add some soy sauce to a batch of popcorn or party mix for an exciting spin on an old classic.
4. Add a couple of dashes of soy sauce to meat marinades for a new depth of flavor.
5. Soy sauce can turn day old rice into a brand new meal. Stir-fry cold rice with your choice of meats and vegetables, until warmed through. Add a couple of shakes of soy sauce at the end to bring the dish together. This is also an effective use for leftover meats and vegetables.
6. Add soy sauce to traditional favorites like Tuna Casserole for a new spin on an old favorite.
7. Instead of salt, add soy sauce to BBQ sauce for both salt and smokiness.
Soy sauce is known for its power to bring umami, the fifth taste, to foods so experimenting with soy sauce can only lead to more delicious dishes.