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There’s No Salt in This Gluten-Free Soy Sauce

Our editor describes a salt-free, gluten-free substitution for soy sauce.

[Updated February 22, 2017]

Jessica Goldman Foung, a.k.a. “Sodium Girl,” must live salt-free due to risk of kidney failure prompted by lupus. She’s a queen of substitutions – an inspiration for those on special diets. This enthusiastic foodie spices up her diet with tasty sweet and savory alternatives to salt. Here’s the back-story (and the recipe) behind her ingenious GF, no-salt soy sauce.

I remember the day that my low-sodium diet truly turned around. I had just purchased The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium Cookbook, by Donald A. Gazzaniga, and as I flipped through the recipes, I landed on “Soy Sauce Replacement.” I had never considered the idea of replacements before. Or that I could mimic something as salty as soy sauce, which contains more than 1,000mg of sodium per tablespoon.

I made Mr. Gazzaniga’s Soy Sauce Replacement, and while it didn’t taste exactly like the original—there is just no way you can replicate the taste of all that salt—it did have a similar Asian essence. And when mixed with other components for marinades or BBQ sauces, it provided the right amount of savory sweetness.

I created my own version that I use whenever a recipe calls for soy or teriyaki or fish sauce. And I call it umami sauce, as I want your palate to seek out the savory quality, not the salt.

Umami Sauce


The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 1 month.

1 cup water
1 tablespoon cooked unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon molasses
½ teaspoon dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon garlic powder 

Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to use.

⅓ cup contains 9 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 0g protein, 1EstGL.

Recipe excerpted from Sodium Girl by Jessica Goldman Foung, with permission from publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.