Asian-Inspired Low Sodium Marinade

Now that my daughters have returned to school, I’ve been going full steam ahead on projects shelved since the start of summer. Last week I painted our chicken coop and shed and got about half-way on the master bedroom. Unfortunately Friday I succumbed to a respiratory cold and spent the whole weekend in a complete and utter fog. This morning, instead of laying in bed (which does nothing but make the congestion worse), I’ve decided to post. Take that, infection!

I’ve been meaning to share today’s recipe for weeks. I found it earlier this summer in an old issue of Cooking Light magazine and with one minor tweak — the substitution of “faux” soy sauce for the real thing — it’s a fantastically flavorful low sodium marinade. And I mean LOW sodium. A mere 21 milligrams in the whole thing! But man oh man has it got TASTE. I’d imagine even in my present sorry state, I’d be able to detect the subtle nuances of garlic and ginger, 5-spice powder and the sweet tang of rice wine vinegar. And as I can barely breathe, hear or smell, that’s saying something. We’ve made this several times with chicken, letting it marinate a couple hours before tossing it on the grill. But it would be equally delicious with pork, tofu or tempeh, even hardy veggies like squash or sweet potato.

Yields enough marinade for 6 servings.

SODIUM CONTENT: 21 mg per recipe


3 T. faux soy sauce (recipe below)
1 1/2 T. honey
1 T. unflavored rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 t. vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 T. peeled & grated fresh ginger
1/4 t. five-spice powder
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

FAUX SOY SAUCE (adapted from Dick Logue’s Soy Sauce Substitute)
1/4 c. molasses
3 T. rice wine vinegar
1 T. water
1 t. low-sodium or sodium-free beef bouillon granules
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper

To make the faux soy sauce, measure ingredients into a small saucepan or microwave safe bowl and heat on low to combine. Store unused portion in an airtight container in the refrigerator for later use.


Combine all ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add choice of meat, tofu or other protein and seal bag tightly. Shake and/or invert several times to coat contents completely. Refrigerate 2 hours, turning occasionally. Remove contents and cook as desired.

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16 Responses to Asian-Inspired Low Sodium Marinade

  1. Steve @ The Black Peppercorn says:

    I must say , this sounds great and a ‘faux’ soy sauce is a great idea. It can be so salty. I am bookmarking this and buzzing it as well. Thanks!

  2. Christy says:

    Thanks so much, Steve. Hope you try & enjoy it!

  3. Looks fantastic (as always)!
    That cold sounds pretty awful, though, Dishy – I’m so sorry to hear that – I hope you feel much better very, very soon!

  4. I wondered what you’d been doing without the girls around all day! The crispy caramelized piece on top of that chicken has me ecstatic. BEAUTIFUL.

  5. Sarah says:

    This looks fantastic! I’m going to try out your faux soy sauce. Love finding ideas to reduce the salt in recipes, thanks!

  6. Christy says:

    Thanks Inky – I’ve turned the corner on the cold. It’s gone from my head into my chest which sounds bad but I’m feeling better today than I have since Friday. Hopefully by this weekend I should be back to normal. (I better, it’s Georgia’s bday party!)

    Thanks so much Katie! Didn’t know I could make someone so happy w/ a piece of grilled chicken!

    You’re so welcome Sarah! The faux stuff doesn’t taste like soy sauce on its own, but partnered w/ other Asian ingredients, it’s a great imitation.

  7. shambo says:

    This marinade sounds delicious. I’m going to try it soon. And I will give the faux soy sauce another try.

    Hope you’re on the mend.

  8. Christy says:

    Thanks so much, Shambo. Feeling a bit better today. Slow & steady wins the race. 😉

  9. Jean says:

    Do you have any suggestions for replacing the beef bouillon to make a vegan version. I’m so glad you have come up with a very low sodium soy sauce replacement!

    • Christy says:

      Hey Jean! For a plant-based version, substitute lower sodium vegan bouillon granules – or if you can’t find them, try an equal amount of vegetable soup base (it comes in a small jar and is a thick concentrate). The taste may be a bit different, but when used in combination w other ingredients the difference should be fairly negligible. Best of luck to you! Christy

  10. Brenda says:

    What is 5 spice powder and where do u get it

    • Christy says:

      Hi Brenda!

      Chinese 5-Spice Powder is a fragrant salt-free blend of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, pepper, and fennel. It’s sold in many supermarkets and speciality food stores, but if you can’t find it, you can make your own. Combine 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon anise seed or 1 star anise, 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. Pulse into a powder using a small spice grinder, food processor, or mortal and pestle. This yields a tablespoon; you only need a 1/4 teaspoon for this recipe. Store excess for later because you’re gonna need it. This stuff is good.

      Hope this helps!
      Best wishes, Christy

  11. Deanna Cunningham says:

    Hi Christy, I found this recipe a few months ago when I needed to make some changes to my eating habits due to high blood pressure. I was happy to find this recipe and have made it several times, earlier this week I made my best batch yet! I tweaked it just a little bit, I used 5 cloves of garlic, and didn’t have fresh ginger so I used 1/2 tsp of ground ginger. I also let it sit for about eight hours before using it, I think it gave everything a chance to “marry” and turn out so nummy! Thanks for this and all of your other recipes you so generously share.

  12. Carolyn Boyer says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe. Bad heart no salt no fat no no tasty food…Thanks again.

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