This is the March 2006 issue of the Low Budget Vegetarian newsletter.

This issue includes:
- notes on soy sauce and soy milk
- new recipes with hiziki


Notes on soy sauce and soy milk.

Soy products are now very, very popular, and show up everywhere. However, just because soy is an ingredient in a food, does not mean that the food is good-tasting and healthy.

As with most foods, it is worth buying products that have a minimal amount of processing and chemical manipulation. With foods like soy sauce and soy milk, which both have a long history, it is worth looking for products that are closest to traditional ways of preparing these foods. It makes a big difference in quality and taste.

I want to briefly talk about soy sauce and soy milk.


Soy sauce - this is a fermented food, traditionally prepared from soybeans, sometimes wheat, water and salt. And, time. The best soy sauce has only those ingredients.

So-called soy sauce that includes ingredients like corn syrup and caramel color, isn't worth buying, period.

Unfortunately, with our culture's paranoia about salt, you are seeing more reduced sodium or low sodium soy sauces. Soy sauce is a naturally fermented food, and if prepared traditionally it needs no preservatives. If you reduce the amount of salt too much, this is no longer the case. So, many soy sauces now have added alcohol or some other preservative. The resulting product has a weak, flat, insipid, one-dimensional taste. By comparison, a good quality traditionally prepared soy sauce, has a smell with a complexity almost like a good wine, and has a correspondingly rich taste.

Unfortunately, I only see good quality soy sauces at Asian groceries and at some large coops. It is definitely worth searching out.


Soy milk - the very best soy milk I ever had, was at a little chinese restaurant near where I live now. My wife and I were having lunch there, and we ordered soybean milk as our beverage. (The usual soybean milk at restaurants like this comes in cans and has added sugar - not great, but the creaminess is good with hot food.) The waitress, on hearing our order, offered to bring us some fresh soy milk they had made the same morning. It came in large bowls and was still warm, and it had a creamy and smooth, rich taste.

Most commercially available soy milks are highly processed and fortified with all sorts of stuff. The best tasting soy milk should have only two ingredients - soybeans, and water. Some of the large commercial brands, along with their highly processed cousins, also have good plain soymilk with only these ingredients. I know Edensoy and Westsoy both make a pure soymilk, and there are probably other brands.

As with soy sauce, you will be able to tell a distinct difference in taste, comparing pure and processed soy milk. The pure soy milk has a distinctive clean and pure taste. It is worth taking the time to read the label.


The two new recipes this month both use hiziki, which is a form of sea vegetable (or, seaweed). It is dark black, and comes in either ropy strands like spaghetti, or smaller and thinner leaves. Of the various sea vegetables, hiziki has the highest calcium content, and is also a good source of b-vitanins, and iron and other minerals. It is one of the best vegetable sources of calcium.

Hiziki has a strong smell, and needs to be properly prepared to taste really good. Hiziki is first soaked for a few hours, and then the soaking water is discarded. It swells to several times its dry size during soaking. The hiziki is then briefly sauteed in a small amount of oil for a few minutes. This seems to be the crucial step; coating the seaweed with a little oil pretty much gets rid of the strong smell and taste. It is then simmered in water to cover for 15 minutes to a half-hour.

Most asian recipes I have seen with hiziki and other seaweeds, prepare them with a combination of hot, sweet, salty and sour tastes. The recipe here uses cayenne, ginger, soy sauce and honey.

The following recipe has the instructions for preparing hiziki, and the cooked hiziki is then combined with carrot and onion cooked on the side, and with slivered almonds. It is wonderful.

Hiziki with carrots and almonds -

The next recipe is for serious hiziki pickles. This is a really good, tasty way to add extra mineral nutrition to meals. The hiziki is prepared as in the above recipe, and then combined with lots of garlic, ginger and root vegetables, and then marinated in a mix of soy sauce, vinegar and water. I make up a big jar, and then just leave it sit in my basement for about a month. Once we start using it I refrigerate it, but I'm not sure if that is necessary. They keep getting stronger and better tasting with time. They are very good, and very addicting.

Hiziki pickles -


And that is all for this month.

Happy and healthy eating to you, and best wishes for the New Year.

Charlie Obert


Low Budget Vegetarian Survival