As a test cook, recipe inspiration hits you out of nowhere. I was driving one day on the New Jersey Turnpike and had an idea for an amazing-sounding sauce. It made me want to run straight to my kitchen: butter + soy sauce + lemon.
People: it really works.
I can’t say this is an original idea. The glorious combination of soy sauce and butter has been used for years, especially in Japanese cooking. It’s everything you need in a sauce: rich, sweet, salty, umami.
But I had autumn on my mind while admiring the color changes on the trees in the Pine Barrens. Which led to autumnal flavors. Which led to one of my favorites: brown butter, nutty and delicious.
You know where I’m going with this. Brown butter soy sauce. Yes, please.
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The sauce starts with browning butter, which is quite simple. Melt butter in a (stainless-steel!) skillet and continuously swirl until the milk solids toast up. (Stainless steel gives you a better visual on the browning—a nonstick skillet masks the color, causing you to potentially burn the butter.) Once the browning is complete, take the skillet off the heat and add your soy sauce, which is really when that “wow” moment happens. The butter bubbles up and absorbs the soy, transforming into this rich, nutty, salty, slightly caramel-like sticky sauce that gives off the most. Wonderful. Aroma.
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I'm calling it Infinite Sauce. Because when it comes to incorporating the sauce into your life, the possibilities are endless. (For the record, there's a company called Infinity Sauce that's not affiliated with our version.)
Lastly, add lemon juice. No, it will not make your sauce taste lemony, just . . . awakened and balanced. The addition of acid balances the deep caramelization, making the sauce really pop.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be exploring different ways of incorporating brown butter soy sauce into your life, in both expected and unexpected ways. You can put this on a fatty grilled steak, pork chop, roasted vegetables, spaghetti, scallops, toast . . . heck, why not Cheerios? You won’t be sorry.
(OK . . . you might be sorry about the Cheerios.)
Makes 1/2 cup sauce
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, swirling skillet constantly, until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 6 to 8 minutes longer. Off heat, stir in soy sauce. Transfer sauce to heatproof bowl, making sure to scrape out butter solids with rubber spatula. Stir in lemon juice and serve. (Sauce can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.)