READER QUESTION: I can't eat anything with soy in it. Is there a substitute when I'm preparing food at home?
Indeed there is! If you're looking for the savory, umami-ness you get from traditional soy sauce, but without the soy part, try one of these:
Soy Sauce Substitutes
- Coconut aminos is made from the fermented sap of the coconut palm tree, and it makes a fine soy sauce substitute. It contains no wheat or soy, and it's quite a bit sweeter than soy sauce, but less salty. You may find you need to add a little more salt to the dish if you use coconut aminos instead of traditional soy sauce.
- Worcestershire sauce is a fermented sauce made with ingredients like garlic, onion, tamarind, molasses, malt vinegar, and anchovies, which give it a strong, complex flavor. It is also a bit sweeter than soy sauce, but not quite as much as coconut aminos. It's great with meat dishes.
- Fish sauce is my pick when I want a strong, soy-free umami kick. Read all about fish sauce here!
- Maggi sauce is made from fermented wheat proteins. Think of it as "next level" soy sauce, with a big, rich, salty, meaty flavor. You only need a few drops to make an impact. Like fish sauce, there is no uniform manufacturing process for maggi. While the bottle will look mostly the same (black with yellow top), there are slight flavor differences depending if you buy a domestically-produced bottle, or a bottle from a Chinese or Mexican grocer, for example.
Because the flavor profiles of these soy sauce substitutes are all slightly different, I wouldn't rely on a 1:1 substitution. If using one of the above in lieu of soy sauce, go for a taste-and-see approach!
-Cambria, Senior Editor and soy sub experimenter
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