We know that soy sauce is used for so much more than adding a salty richness to sushi and sashimi. It shows up in ingredient lists for pan sauces, gravies, soups, and stews. But what can we do to harness the power of this deliciously versatile ingredient in our own cooking?
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First of all, it’s important to know exactly what soy sauce contributes to the dish you’re making and go from there.
Up the beefiness
Here are five ways you can use soy sauce to brighten, elevate, and refine your cooking.
Vegetarian and vegan dishes will often use soy sauce’s umami qualities to boost their beefy flavor. Beef has glutamates (an amino acid, found in all protein-containing foods) that give it its distinctive savory flavor, and soy sauce contains the same compounds. Because the umami flavor profile is similar to that of certain meats, it can give a vegetarian chili a meaty taste without compromising its plant-based virtues.
Four-Chile Vegetarian ChiliThe complex beauty of the best chilis, such as this one, comes from the dried chiles—not the meat.
Add umami complexity
Umami isn’t just about meaty flavors though. The salty, savory components of soy sauce add richness without necessarily needing to contribute meatiness. Take, for example, our Slow-Cooker Beef Burgundy, which already includes beef and bacon. In this dish, the soy sauce intensifies the flavors of the stew and gives the sauce a deep, caramel color.
Give a little salty savor
In dressings and marinades, soy sauce often lends a kick of salty tang. When paired with bright, sweet, or creamy flavor profiles, soy sauce is able to cut through and give a sauce more body and complexity, as in our Roasted Garlic-Soy Sauce Dressing.
Roasted Garlic–Soy Sauce DressingRoasted garlic adds depth and richness to this simple vinaigrette.
Make Infinite Sauce
Have you ever mixed salty, savory soy sauce with rich, nutty browned butter? If you haven’t, you absolutely need to. Infinite Sauce is named for its ability to pair with practically anything: steak, potatoes, baked goods, fish—the possibilities are infinite!
The star of the show
Soy sauce doesn’t always have to be used in a supporting role: There are plenty of recipes that call for soy sauce to be the main flavor of a dish. Take, for example, our Soy Sauce Chicken Wings, which use the condiment's powerhouse umami flavor and salty-sweet tang to bolster the richness of fried chicken. You can also marinate jammy boiled eggs in a soy sauce mixture to imbue the creamy eggs with the kick of salty flavor.
However you use soy sauce, be sure to remember that this versatile condiment deserves to be more than just a garnish and can elevate strong, bold flavors to all-new heights of deliciousness.