Can You Use Worcestershire Sauce Instead of Soy Sauce?

by Charlie
Can You Use Worcestershire Sauce Instead of Soy Sauce

Do you need a substitute for soy sauce and only have Worcestershire sauce at home? Are you unsure if it would ruin the flavor of your recipe? Let’s find out. 

Can you use Worcestershire sauce instead of soy sauce? Absolutely! You can use Worcestershire sauce in place of soy sauce. While their ingredients are not the same, both of them are fermented and enhanced with a savory flavor.

What is the Difference Between Soy Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce?

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is undoubtedly a staple in Asian cuisine. This fermented condiment is also known as shoyu and soya sauce. It consists of soybeans, wheat, water, and salt.

Soy sauce can vary by color and sweetness. Light soy sauce is for seasoning, dipping, and marinating while darker soy sauce with its thicker consistency is often used as a natural food coloring. The brown pigment of soy sauce is called melanoidin. The color gradually develops during fermentation when sugars and amino acids get combined. The duration of fermentation ranges from 4 months to 4 years.

Soy sauce has been popular for over 2,200 years because of its natural ingredients and unique savoriness. Soy sauce seasons dishes with its intense umami flavor. Umami refers to a meaty, broth-like taste. This is the flavor we need to emulate with our soy sauce substitute.

It is not just fermented sauces that have this savory flavor: cheeses, meats, mushrooms, and shellfish have this taste due to the protein-rich compounds in them.

Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is an English fermented fish sauce with East Asian influences. Its history can be traced back to the 19th century. Unlike soy sauce, it consists of many ingredients.

It was originally made with the following ingredients: anchovies, malt vinegar, spirit vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, tamarind extract, shallots, garlic, and natural flavorings.

Fermenting anchovies with vinegar for about 18-24 months results in a powerful and distinctive flavor. Just like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce has an umami flavor because of the acidic fermentation process.

Traditional Worcestershire sauce is not suitable for vegetarians because it contains anchovies. It is possible to purchase it without anchovies but the vegetarian version usually contains soy sauce.

What is the Shelf Life of Soy Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce?

Condiments usually have a “best before” date because they do not go bad the same way perishables do. Fermentation prevents both soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce from spoiling quickly. Soy sauce can last for up to 3 years if it remains unopened. Unopened Worcestershire sauce can last for up to 4-5 years when stored properly.

Both gradually lose their freshness if they are not stored away from direct sunlight and heat sources such as a stove. They can preserve their freshness longer if they get refrigerated but they do not require refrigeration.

Look for signs of spoilage such as mold or a strange odor. If the color or taste is off, dispose of it.

Can You Consume Soy Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce with Food Allergies?

Soy sauce is not safe for people with a soy allergy. Traditional soy sauce contains another common allergen: wheat.

Worcestershire sauce has some health advantages over soy sauce because people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and soy allergy can enjoy it. It is a healthier option for people with high blood pressure because it has a lower sodium content than soy sauce.

Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies. Thus, you need to avoid it if you have a shellfish or seafood allergy. Always read the label if you have an allergy because vegetarian Worcestershire sauce contains soy sauce most of the time.

In What Recipes Can Worcestershire Sauce Replace Soy Sauce?

Worcestershire sauce is not the first alternative we think of when we want to replace soy sauce but this substitute works very well. You could use it in a wide variety of ways.

Since Worcestershire sauce has a denser concentration, you might need to adjust the amount.

Worcestershire sauce is not as salty as soy sauce. If your dish is supposed to be on the saltier side, taste it before serving it because it might need more salt.

Whether you use your replacement as a marinade or a dip, it will turn out great. You can expect a more complex flavor with Worcestershire sauce because it has a lot more ingredients than soy sauce. This difference will not ruin your recipes though.

If you add it as a flavor-enricher to pasta or rice dishes, use a small amount first to try out the flavor. If you find it too strong, you could tone it down by diluting it with some water.

What Other Sauces Can Replace Soy Sauce?

Soy sauce has quite a few great substitutes because even though some sauces are made of very different ingredients, they have almost the same umami flavor. There are plenty of vegetarian, gluten-free, and soy-free options.

Tamari is a type of soy sauce with no wheat. What could replace soy sauce better than gluten-free soy sauce?

Miso paste made of fermented beans can be an excellent substitute in its diluted form. Hoisin sauce is also a fermented soybean sauce but of a thicker consistency than soy sauce. It is definitely among the best replacements for soy sauce.

Oyster sauce with its tangy, umami flavor is a perfect choice as well. So is fish sauce. Check the label if you are looking for gluten-free fish sauce because some brands are gluten-free while others aren’t.

Teriyaki sauce has soy sauce as one of its main ingredients but it contains brown sugar. As a result, it tastes sweeter than soy sauce but it is a close match.

Vegetarians can also opt for liquid aminos in place of soy sauce because both have the same main ingredient: soybeans. This is a gluten-free sauce but it is not ideal for people with a soy allergy.

Coconut aminos sauce is made of coconut sap. It is a healthy alternative with vitamins and 17 amino acids. Its sodium content is a lot lower than that of liquid aminos and soy sauce. This is therefore a very healthy sauce but it tastes sweeter than soy sauce.

Last but not least, dried shiitake mushrooms can be rehydrated by placing them in cold water overnight. Just use the liquid of the mushrooms instead of soy sauce and you will get a lighter umami flavor with this substitute.

Final Thoughts

Think of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce as cousins. Although their ingredients are different, fermentation gives both a strong umami flavor. Worcestershire sauce will not ruin your recipe if you add only a little at a time until you achieve the flavor you want.

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