Creating great stir-frys without soy sauce

I used to do a lot of stir-frying, but my son has developed allergies to bean products, including soy. Can you suggest something I can substitute for soy sauce?

Creating great stir-frys without soy sauce 1

When I stir-fry, soy sauce is only one of many aromatics I use to flavor the ingredients. Often, I don’t even use soy sauce. Have no fear for your stir-frys — you have lots of options.

Since your son is allergic, you should shy away from soy oil or vegetable oil (which contains soy) and cook with other oils, such as peanut, canola, sunflower and light olive.

There is so much fusion cooking happening at upscale restaurants today, and it’s about time this blending of national cuisines shifted to the home kitchen. Just because you are stir-frying, don’t limit your ingredients to Asian foods.

I’ll answer your question by suggesting a substitute I call “American Sauce.” I think you should replace soy sauce with — hold your scream! — ketchup. Why do I suggest such a culinary sacrilege? First, kids love ketchup. Your son will leap for joy when you tell him you’re adding ketchup to his stir-fry. Second, it will add a sweet and sour flavor, common to Asian dishes. Lastly, ketchup is a descendent of “ketjap,” the national sauce of Indonesia. In fact, H.J Heinz probably tasted ketjap before he found a use for all those tomatoes in his garden. Indonesian cuisine uses stir-frying as a cooking method. Therefore, the connection is easy.

Creating great stir-frys without soy sauce

If you are finished laughing, here are some other wild ideas for flavoring stir-fry dishes:

Since salsa bypassed ketchup as America’s most popular condiment, why not add a little salsa at the end of the cooking process? Check out Pickapeppa Sauce — it is quite spicy, so use only a little. Try a dollop of Dijon mustard to flavor your stir-fry at the last minute. I would loosen it with a little broth or white wine.

Speaking of white wine, Lea and Perrins makes a light white wine Worcestershire sauce that works well with a shrimp or chicken stir-fry. Of course, low-sodium Angostura Worcestershire sauce is great for beef stir-frys.

You get the idea. Bottled sauces are abundant on the shelves of supermarkets these days. Be sure to read the label to eliminate brands that use soy oil or soy products. And don’t forget fresh aromatics for your stir-fry, like garlic and gingerroot.

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