Jan 07

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Soy Sauce and Food Allergies

Soy Sauce and Food Allergies

Ever since we had a friend with a wheat allergy come over for dinner, I’ve been thinking about how to prepare Asian foods without soy sauce or finding a nut-safe, wheat and gluten free soy sauce alternative. One of the first questions that popped up shortly after I published my first few recipes revolved around soy sauce: How to make Soy Free Soy Sauce? This is a huge topic and I believe the humble soy sauce deserves its own post! Soy Sauce for food allergies nut free wok

The Basics: 

Assuming that one does not have any wheat or soy allergies and could choose any brand of soy sauce, I suggest Kikkoman. It’s the brand that you can find at almost any supermarket, tastes good, and has a product allergen chart available online. Lee Kum Kee is another common supermarket brand with some allergen information available online.

Recipes for Soy Sauce Alternatives:

I have not tried any of these recipes yet but I’m compiling them here for future reference.

  • Cybele Pascal has shared a recipe online on how to make a top 8 allergen free soy sauce recipe using beef stock, seaweed, cider vinegar, garlic, ginger, and pepper. That sounds really good with a lot of umami flavor.
  • Nut Free Wok reader, Karen, shared another recipe that doesn’t use seaweed and seems equally simple.
  • UPDATE: I’ve shared a soy-free soy sauce recipe here and it tastes amazing!

Are there any nut-free pre-made soy sauce alternatives (updated January 23)?

I am looking forward to try these as the opportunity arises. Thanks to the fantastic response from readers and friends, I would narrow down the options to the following short list:

Bragg’s Liquid Aminos Their webpage states that their equipment is free of peanut, tree nut, and wheat. However, I have an email response (Feb. 2013) disclosing that walnuts are the only nut present, processed, and/or stored in the facility with their liquid amino product.

Coconut Aminos is soy-free, gluten free, dairy free, and vegan which is an option for someone who is certain they are not allergic to coconut. Quite a few trusted nut allergy mommy friends use this product. The manufacturer’s website does disclose an allergen advisory as well as that they adhere to a strict allergen protocol.

Kikkoman makes a gluten free soy sauce. According to their allergen chart, no peanuts are in the facility thus unlikely to have any cross contact with peanuts. Kikkoman does make a few products containing tree nuts. However the “all-purpose Kikkoman Soy Sauce and the Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce are brewed at the Kikkoman Foods, Inc. plant in Walworth, WI where there are no peanuts or tree nuts ingredients. Please check the back of your label to see where the product was made.” I recommend checking the label and calling them if you have further concerns.

Red Boat Fish Sauce (see Sarah’s comments below, thank you!!!) is made from anchovies and sea salt and according to their FAQ, it is free of peanuts, shellfish, gluten, and soy. This opens up some yummy options for some Vietnamese dishes, including pho!

San-J makes a variety of gluten free Tamari Soy Sauce. I emailed the company regarding their allergen policy and received the following response (pretty awesome!):

Thank you for contacting us. Yes, we take great care in ensuring our products are free of cross contamination. We follow and document specific cleaning procedures, then after the process has been completed, rinse water samples are brought to the lab. These are tested for peanuts, mustard, sesame, and any gluten including wheat to ensure the line has been cleaned appropriately. Tree nuts, dairy and egg ingredients are not processed in our plant. In addition, pre-operational and end of the day inspections are conducted. Employees conducting these inspections are trained to look for any possible allergen contamination. Our consumers’ safety is important to us in creating a high-quality product.

If any readers know of other nut-free, wheat and gluten free soy sauce alternative that I can purchase, please share in the comments. As always, I recommend reading the ingredient labels and calling the manufacturers personally as manufacturers can change their policies, ingredients, or labels at any time without warning.

If you like this post, you’ll probably like to see what is in my cupboard as well.


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  1. Sarah Mentze

    Great post! I like using Red Boat Fish Sauce. Of course, not great for fish allergies, but it is peanut, tree nut and gluten free. I just emailed to ask about soy and shellfish cross contamination. http://redboatfishsauce.com/faq.html

  2. Sarah Mentze

    Wow! Red Boat already emailed me back! They say there is no cross contamination with soy or shellfish. They only use anchovies and salt.

    1. Sharon Wong

      Awesome, Sarah!!! Thank you for sharing, what a terrific find.

  3. Ellie

    I’m confused about lactic acid. I’ve always purchased the regular Kikkoman soy sauce bc it doesn’t list lactic acid. I was understanding that lactic acid came from dairy. The low sodium soy sauce lists lactic acid in the ingredients but their website says it doesn’t contain dairy.

    So, do you know any thing about lactic acid? And is the low sodium soy sauce safe then for dairy allergies? Do you trust Kikkomans labeling? Thanks!!

    1. Sharon Wong

      Hi Ellie, That is such a great question that I’ve never thought about since we don’t have a dairy allergy. Out of curiosity, I found a discussion about this topic and it seems that lactic acid in soy sauce is a by product of the fermentation process. http://food52.com/hotline/16410-is-lactic-acid-used-in-soy-sauce-from-cows

      Perhaps other readers with a dairy allergy can chime in about soy sauce, but if you still have concerns, it’s probably best to ask your doctor or refer to Kikkoman’s allergen chart http://www.kikkomanusa.com/homecooks/faq/allergenchart.php and call if you have further questions.

  4. Candice van devender

    Thanks for sharing Sharon! Daughters are allergic to peanut, tree nut, soy, sesame, gluten, dairy, egg and legumes. Asian food is hard for us. Up until 2 years ago we were ok with soy and sesame and would have miso soup and tofu often, but now it’s definitely a challenge to cook any korean food without soy or sesame.We use Coconut secrets, but want to try Cybele’s recipe soon. Ive been using chicken stock to flavor my stir fry veggies.
    I successfully made a nut, gluten, dairy, egg, sesame free California roll last night and was a success. Even her classmates asked if i can make them some. I started making homemade radish kimchee, but still working on the right taste.
    Keep it coming. Thanks for starting this.

    1. Sharon Wong

      Hi Candice! Food allergies are soooooo hard! Yes, not being able to use soy really makes cooking Asian dishes a challenge. I am not familiar with cooking many Korean dishes but I can see how sesame and soy are key ingredients for achieving the Korean flavors. Good job on making an allergy friendly California roll as there are so many possibilities with sushi! Let’s keep in touch and maybe we can brainstorm to come up with a recipe together.

  5. Holly

    My DH has started making shoji koji, which is a fermented rice product. We like it much better than coconut aminos and avoid some of the others mentioned for other allergies. He orders the starter from amazon. The other ingredients are normal ones.

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