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Basic ginger soy sauce:

Mostly soy sauce, grated ginger, scallions, some rice wine.

Some people find it too salty. What other liquids could I combine with the soy to end up with something a bit less salty in the same space? Just cranking up the rice wine isn't very attractive.

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Much of the commercially available mirin has little or no alcohol in it, so you may try boosting volume with this, although it is sweet. –  kevins Jul 15 '10 at 4:04
    
Does it have to be soy based for vegetarian or other specific reasons? –  hobodave Jul 15 '10 at 15:38
    
No, I'm just trying to produce a basic Chinese/Japanese ginger soy dipping sauce. –  bmargulies Jul 15 '10 at 22:19
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I may be jumping the gun here and making unwarranted assumptions about what this sauce is being used for, but assuming it's something like a marinade, rice, stir-fry, etc... I usually use some combination of the following:

  • Soy or teriyaki sauce (or both)
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Honey or brown sugar
  • Chili oil (small amount, obviously)
  • Grated ginger
  • Grated garlic (very small amount, that's strong stuff)
  • Rice wine (usually I skip this, actually)
  • Water!

Sometimes the combination of oil and water doesn't hold together so well; if you add a little tapioca starch and heat it up, it will thicken and bind. I use this all the time in stir fries.

Also, if you happen to have any prepared oriental sauces like hoisin or black bean or chili garlic sauce, those can be used in a pinch to cut the salty taste of soy sauce. Fine-tuning with pure ingredients to get the exact taste you want is always better, of course.

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Water may be the magic missing piece here. –  bmargulies Jul 14 '10 at 23:36
    
@bma: In my stir-fry sauces, water is actually the main ingredient. I'm not sure if that's "right" or not - it's just how I learned it - but I'm always happy with the resulting taste. Usually something like 3-4 parts water to 1 part soy sauce and 1 part "other". Although, with that much water you really need the "other" too, just the soy won't have enough flavour. –  Aaronut Jul 14 '10 at 23:38
    
looks like I didn't read carefully enough or the right stuff. –  bmargulies Jul 15 '10 at 0:36
    
@bma: Read what carefully enough? This answer, or the recipes you tried? –  Aaronut Jul 15 '10 at 1:35
    
I'm suspecting that my cookbooks agree with you and I didn't remember what I read very well. –  bmargulies Jul 15 '10 at 11:23
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Use less soy sauce. It's salty - it has to be salty - and you can't really avoid that (even the low-sodium varieties still have a fair bit of salt in them).

I recommend using a good strong soy sauce in moderation, and perhaps a bit of black vinegar to augment the flavor.

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See edit please. –  bmargulies Jul 14 '10 at 23:28
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Reduced sodium soy sauces taste great. I love salt but I prefer the lower sodium varieties of soy sauce. I generally buy Kikkoman Lite Soy Sauce just because I can get it cheaply. It is much, much better than Kikkoman original. I'm not particularly concerned about sodium content for heath reasons, I just don't like being overwhelmed by saltiness. Reduced sodium soy sauce is still salty, but you can taste flavors other than salt. My favorite sushi place even puts Kikkoman Lite on the tables, if you want the full-salt stuff you have to ask for it. For even more flavor for each mg of sodium, you might try this. Yes, it's Hawaiian, but it works very nicely in Japanese and Chinese recipes. Aloha Brand Lower Salt Shoyo

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