substituting soy sauce for salt in brines.

Discussion in 'Sauces, Rubs & Marinades' started by i is a moose, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. I like the flavors and seasoning that a brine can lend to meats;  it's downright hard to replicate with traditional surface-seasoning, therefore brining is my preferred means of meat pre-treatment (excluding beef, there's really no need to brine beef, it's better off being dry-aged). Anyway, there are times when a typical hot brine is simply too much hassle; you have to heat it up to dissolve the salt and sugar, then either chill it slowly in a bath, or design it around having ice added to it. If you're in a hurry or lazy, it's pretty time consuming. Recently, I've began to seek a means of making a cold brine that doesn't rely on coarser salts and sugars which are harder to dissolve cold.

    Here are my findings, which I would like to share here, on the off-chance it may be useful to other here on SMF.

    This was my baseline brine;

    96 ounces (3 quarts) of water or apple juice

    8 ounces (by weight) of sugar

    12 ounce (by weight) of salt.

    Sugar was the easiest to substitute; by weight, it can be easily replaced with molasses, honey, maple syrup, cola syrup, even corn syrup, so long as the weight remained unchanged, the results were consistent.

    Salt was tougher. The quickest solution was pickling salt, but I really had no other use for it besides brining, and therefore no other reason to keep it around the house. If it's not going to be put to use, then it has to go. What I do keep in quantity at home, and use regularly, is soy sauce; in fact, I buy it in gallon tins from the restaurant supply store in town. It's too useful not to keep around in quantity. The problem is that soy sauce's peak sodium content is right around 18%, which means it can't be swapped ounce-for ounce. No matter how many numbers I crunched, I just couldn't get my head around how to make it fit the role. Finally, I broke down and made two scale batches of brine. one was my control, built just the way a brine should be, the other received soy sauce in one-ounce increments until they tasted alike.

    My findings are: it takes four times the salt's weight to equal soy sauce in a brine. The only trouble is the extra volume the soy sauce brings to the party. Those 12 ounces ballooned to 48, or six cups of soy sauce, which means the brine needed a slight core overhaul.

    This is the basic adjusted brine:

    48 ounces of water

    48 ounces (by weight) of soy sauce

    8 ounces (by weight) of molasses/syrup

    If you want to up the flavor quotient a little, then here's another adapted one:

    2 12-oz cans of frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed

    24 ounces of water

    48 ounces (by weight) of soy sauce

    8 ounces (by weight) of molasses/syrup

    This one's math is slightly funny on the outset, but it's because half the water's volume has been replaced with apple juice concentrate, which receives 3 containers (or 36 ounces) each of water to become a total of 48 ounces of juice per batch. Since the water, concentrates, and soy total up to 96 ounces, this is sufficient to essentially replace all the liquids with apple juice, adding extra flavors.

    >>> Personally, this brine makes pork taste fantastic, but often the apple flavor seems to be a little too prominent for hardcore pigheads. It creates one of those situations where it's easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Use it if you like the taste of apples inside your pork, but keep it basic if you just want to taste smoke, season, and pork.

    So far, I'm really happy with these brines; I think that they're alot easier than the heated brine, and bring alot more interesting flavors to the meat that just don't take over. Surprisingly, the soy sauce taste effectively fades into the background of the meat when cooked or smoked, and really isn't as harsh as it can be.

    I hope that if you've read this, you've found it informative.
  2. That's great info Moose. Thanks. Where have you been all this time? Nice to see you back. Noticed your not orbiting Titan anymore. [​IMG]

  3. Thanks, it was a fun little side-project!

    I've been occupied with troubles much akin to my last ones - car problems, but things seem to be working out.

    I've got that barbecue itch that must be scratched again, and I'm hoping to share some mods for my WSMC for everybody in the next week or so.

    It feels good to be back!

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