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I love Asian cooking, but my doctor wants me on a low-sodium diet. Unfortunately, even the "lower-sodium" or "reduced sodium" versions of sauces (soy, tamari, etc.) are extremely high in sodium. Is there any alternative that can replicate the flavor of these sauces without the heavy dose of sodium?

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@EmmyS I've deleted the comments, as we do try to stay away from health topics. I will however note that we do generally think it's fine to comment and point out possible misconceptions, because we do get a lot of people asking questions with a nutritional basis so wildly misguided we feel it will mislead future readers. –  Jefromi Sep 20 '13 at 21:02

8 Answers 8

I would recommend trying Bragg's Liquid Aminos. The sodium content is 6% daily allowance for a 1/2 tsp amount. It won't work if used measure measure, though, compared with San-J's reduced sodium tamari at 29% for 1 TBS or Kikkoman's Less Sodium Soy Sauce at 24% for 1 TBS. (Bragg's Liquid Aminos would top them at 36%.) If it can be used successfully in smaller increments (a possibility given its concentrated nature), it would be a useful replacement.

I recommend the Bragg's brand because I have used it and find it satisfactory, though for its own merit, not as a soy sauce substitute. I haven't used any other liquid amino acid product to compare it with. It won't give you exactly soy sauce flavor, but it has sufficient body to be a useful substitute particularly in cooking.

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1  
Please forgive me if my math is wrong, but wouldn't 6% for 1/2 tsp work out to 36% for 1 TSP? (3 tea spoons per table spoon, 6% in 1/2 tea spoon * 2 * 3 teaspoons / table spoon = 36%/tablespoon) –  shufler Aug 25 '12 at 20:07
    
Oh, you're right! Rushed my math on that one. Tsk. Thanks! –  Fisher Aug 25 '12 at 20:48
    
I'll give this a shot; thanks. –  EmmyS Aug 27 '12 at 14:56

"Tangle extract" from kombu (tangle) seaweed, is used in Japanese cuisine to potentiate the effect of monosodium glutamate - that can make a big reduction in the sodium intake. Whatever a recipe calls for in the way of MSG, use a tiny pinch and a good dose of kombu to get the same effect.

More info here.

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I'm not using MSG, so I'm not sure this replacement will really have the effect I'm looking for, but I'll consider it. –  EmmyS Aug 27 '12 at 14:54
    
Kombu extract contains naturally occurring glutamates which function similarly to MSG in food. You don't need to add MSG separately to get the effect. –  sourd'oh Sep 18 '13 at 20:57

Short answer, no. But you can look at other ingredients in a stir-fry and ramp up the flavor there:

for the sour ingredients (vinegar lemon juice) try Shaanxi black vinegar which has a robust dark flavor

Few drops more toasted sesame oil to replace other mild frying oil

broth made with shitake instead of milder chicken/veg stock

dash of aged Shaoxing wine (drinkable rather than cooking variety best) adds a brewed dimension

Just some of the ways to add that savory brown something missing without soy

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Unfortunately the sodium chloride salt is a requirement for the fungus and brewing process which goes into making soy sauce, you are extremely unlikely to find a much lower salt soy sauce, however experiment with vietnamese cuisine which uses more chilli and less soy

if you can tolerate some sodium, this is the lowest sodium soy sauce i can find

http://www.ocado.com/product/40004011?name=Kikkoman_Less_Salt_Soy_Sauce&source=PLA&gclid=CLu7irrOprICFVF0fAodEEoA6g

kikkoman less salt soy sauce, it has 3.4g sodium per 100ml which gives 170mg per 5ml tsp which is around 6% per tsp or 18% per 15ml Tablespoon (and thats based on the american sodium recommendation of 2400mg per day, wheras the UK recommends upto 6000mg per day so... take it with a pinch of salt so to speak)

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The "No Salt Lowest Sodium" cookbooks by Donald A. Gazzaniga have some very low sodium Asian sauce alternatives that are worth trying. Amazon.com carries many of the author's books.

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This might lead the OP to an answer, but it is not an answer. You might want to add value by summarizing the methods or key ingredients. –  SAJ14SAJ Sep 19 '13 at 1:27

Yes you can look into using molasses as a substitute combined with rice-wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar and even balsamic vinegar.

Recipe

2 tablespoons reduced sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons molasses
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
black pepper to taste
1/4 cup boiling water

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients. At this point, you can either a) use the sauce as is, leaving for an hour to give the flavors a chance to blend, or b) for a thicker, richer sauce, boil the liquid until it is reduced by half, about 3 tablespoons.

  2. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Use the sauce within 3 - 4 days.

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"Chinatown" brand dark soy sauce, a product made in Jamaica, has only 145 mg of sodium per 15 mL. So it's lower in sodium than any other soy sauce anyone has mentioned so far.

You can order some from <http://healthyheartmarket.com/chinatownsoysauce.aspx>.

Chowhound poster "bailey2012" likes it.

You can order other reduced-sodium soy sauces from <http://healthyheartmarket.com/lowsodiumsoysauce.aspx>.

I have never tasted any of the products mentioned in this post. If you try one, please click "improve this answer" or "add comment", then add your review.

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I buy the lowest sodium content soya sauce I can find. I then mix the sauce 50 50 with distilled water. The distilled water has no flavours to compete with the diluted soya sauce. For fish and oyster sauces I buy the vegetarian types which are lower in sodium. For the fish sauce I dilute it about 25% with distilled water.

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