Gluten-, dairy-, soy-free savoury soy sauce substitute

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
March 3rd, 2019

More and more people are recently, it seems, finding themselves on restricted diets.

I, personally, have been gluten-, dairy- and soy-free for more than 20 years, so for me the process is fairly easy. But that’s after two decades of trial and error, of being sick and frustrated, of really, really missing some of my favourite foods. People on restricted diets are often left out of social functions, most of which revolve around food and I, for one, became very afraid of food (and thus very unhealthily skinny) for several years after my diagnosis.

I’m not a doctor or a nurse or a nutritionist … just someone who gets too violently ill to ignore the diet, and who adores good food, and who wants to help us all find more inclusive ways of eating.

One of the things I found myself missing the most on the diet was soy sauce – it adds so much richness to so many dishes, marinades, dips, etc.

I learned the hard way that it’s usually made of fermented wheat, not just soy. Then, having discovered a soy-free alternative, rapidly learned the same hard way that I’m also intolerant to soy.

Coconut aminos are often touted as a good option, but while I find they did add a certain amount of umami (depth of flavour), they were a pale substitute for soy sauce. So I went online and tried several recipes (in my experience, the first one you try is rarely the best). I tried this recipe first with cider vinegar, but found balsamic FAR more delicious, and much closer to the real thing.

I also found using beef bouillon tastes best (which is why it’s in this recipe), but GDS-free bouillon is hard to come by and often prohibitively expensive.  Often as not, I make my own beef stock, reduce it to a very concentrated form, and use that instead (subbing out both the bouillon and the water in the following recipe.

I also don’t trust it to keep very long in the fridge, so I freeze it in ice cube trays. Then, say your recipe calls for two tablespoons of soy sauce, add a cube or two to whatever you’re cooking and you’re off to the races! Also, I freeze larger portions in small jam-style jars for recipes requiring a cup or more.

(I do the same thing with homemade stock of any kind – a couple cubes of stock and a couple of this not-so-soy sauce make a wonderful stir-fry base).


·         4 tbsp beef bouillon (or 1 ½ cups reduced beef stock)

·         5 tsps balsamic vinegar

·         3 tsp dark molasses

·         ¼ tsp garlic powder (or garlic salt, but then omit adding more salt)

·         Dash each of salt and pepper

·         1 tbsp microplaned/finely grated ginger, or one two-inch cube of fresh ginger (add, then remove when sauce is done). You can use ginger powder, but I don’t think it tastes as good.

·         1 ½ cups water (omit if using reduced stock).

Add all to pot, bring to boil over medium/high heat, lower heat to simmer. You want it to reduce to about one cup of liquid.

If using fresh chunked ginger, be sure to remove it before storing sauce.

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Categories: Good News Sunday