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 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
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 - http://www.lbveg.com/Recipes/hizikipickles.php
And that is all for this month.
Happy and healthy eating to you, and best wishes for the New Year.
Low Budget Vegetarian Survival