Sounds very much like a made-up word, but in the food world we know it as the fifth taste behind the more commonly recognized tastes of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Umami is best described as the mouth-filling savory quality that you get from mushrooms, oysters, and soy sauce among other things. This savory flavor is responsible for quite a lot of taste-satisfaction, but most soy sauces are made of 50% wheat and 50% soybeans, and are seen as unsafe for those looking to avoid gluten for whatever reason.
For the record, this article at Celiac.com references testing that showed naturally-fermented soy sauces contain less than the 20ppm limit for a product to be considered gluten-free, and even under the 5ppm detection limit. Ergo, very little gluten is found in your average soy sauce and therefore isn’t too much of a worry. That said, it’s unknown how many of the fructans from the wheat survive the fermentation process, but it must be pretty low as soy sauce is not one of the items banned on a Low-FODMAP diet, just limited.
In the interest of better safe than sorry, the alternative to soy sauce is tamari: fermented in the same tradition as soy sauce but from 100% soybeans. And this year San-J has released a Tamari Lite with 50% less sodium than regular tamari sauce. Nothing wrong with cutting some sodium, right? I was sent a sample bottle of San-J’s Tamari Lite and we’ve been using it in place of the San-J Tamari (Black Label) that we usually buy and have noticed absolutely no chance in our food’s flavor.
With everyone looking for simple ways of improving their health with a minimum of inconvenience, I see this as a definite step in the right direction. And since soy and tamari sauces are so wonderful at adding flavor to a dish–be it Asian-inspired or otherwise–having a lower sodium option that has 200 years of tradition and quality behind it is hard to say no to.
Thanksgiving is this week and the gap between it and Christmas feels very small this year. Since I know everyone is looking for snack recipes that travel well (either for pot-lucks, informal gifts, or appetizer options), I thought this recipe that came with my Tamari Lite sample might just fill a need.
Asian Spiced Nuts
1 large egg white
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon San-JÂ TamariÂ Lite 50% Less SodiumÂ GlutenÂ FreeÂ Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons 5 spice powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
4 cups raw pecan halves
1/4 cup white sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
Whisk the egg white in a large mixing bowl until very foamy. Whisk in the sugar, San-JÂ TamariÂ Lite 50% Less SodiumÂ GlutenÂ FreeÂ Soy Sauce, 5 spice powder, and cayenne pepper until full combined. Add the pecan halves and sesame seeds and stir to coat. Place the pecans on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Cook for 10 minutes; stir the nuts and then cook for another 5 minutes. Let cool.
***In case you didn’t catch it the other two times I said it, I was sent a bottle of San-J Tamari Lite for purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own and no other compensation has been exchanged for this post. Any factual errors are mine, too, so apologies if I got something wrong. As for the gluten-free study, always consider the source and make the best choices along with your doctor and/or nutritionist for your personal situation.***