Soy sauce isn’t just a salty standby accompaniment for many types of Chinese cuisine, it’s a versatile ingredient that has important supporting and starring roles in many Western and Eastern dishes. For students taking cooking classes in Boulder and beyond, learning some novel uses of soy sauce can help you expand your culinary repertoire and craft unique and pleasing dishes.
Consider these applications of soy sauce the next time you’re planning a menu or simply making yourself a meal:
Gravy and other sauces
“Soy sauce enhances the meaty tastes in a variety of proteins.”
As Serious Eats pointed out, one of soy sauce’s most expansive attributes is its ability to bring out more meaty flavor in a variety of proteins. Packed with glutamates that enhance umami flavor, soy sauce isn’t just salty but meaty as well.
This turkey gravy recipe from Serious Eats is based on longstanding traditions. The next time you make gravy for Thanksgiving, consider these less common additions:
- Using a few sprigs of mixed herbs, such as thyme, rosemary and parsley.
- Adding in a few bay leaves.
- Limit salt to what’s present in the stock and to season the sauce, alongside pepper, to taste. Use a teaspoon of soy sauce per three cups of thickened, finished gravy for the right ratio.
Incorporating these ingredients is a simple exercise – they should all be added alongside the stock, after you brown your vegetables and meat trimmings.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with the soy-sauce-for-salt substitution with other sauces and gravies. Not only does soy sauce offer the same salty flavor necessary in so many of these recipes, it enhances the meaty tastes.
A one-pan chicken dinner
Baked chicken, garlic, tomatoes, olives and soy sauce – with a few other ingredients – isn’t the most classic flavor profile. That’s OK, though, because this dish from Bon Appetit is both simple and very tasty.
Gather nine divided garlic cloves, one half-teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, one teaspoon soy sauce, one quartered chicken weighing about four pounds, four teaspoons of olive oil, two pounds of halved tomatoes, salt and pepper, a few sprigs of thyme, one-third cup of pitted olives and a baguette cut in half lengthwise.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. While the temperature rises, grate one garlic clove and mix with the pepper, soy sauce and about a tablespoon of olive oil. Liberally coat the chicken with the mixture and season with salt and pepper. Place the remaining ingredients, except the baguette, into a baking dish, placing the chicken on top of the other ingredients, and again season with salt and pepper. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes.
With about 5 minutes left, drizzle oil on the baguette and lightly season with salt. Then, place it next to the chicken inside the oven. Remove everything, slice the baguette segments in half, let the chicken rest about 10 minutes and serve carvings on the toasted baguette with the pan mixture and juices.