By in Food

Low-Sodium Teriyaki: Is It Possible?

Can you eat teriyaki on a low sodium diet? I hadn't given it any thought, as nobody in our household has a sodium restriction. But a question from my friend AngelSharum prompted me to dig a little deeper.

Since tare (teriyaki sauce) is composed mainly of say sauce, a condiment well known for its saltiness, Angel has good reason to wonder if she can still eat teriyaki on her low-salt diet. Let's see if we can't help her find a safe way to do that!

Bottled Teriyaki Sauce

My recipe for freezer to crockpot teriyaki chicken called for bottled sauce, which seemed expensive to me. I opted for homemade because it was a simple recipe that I could mix up as needed from ingredients I always have on hand (well, except for the mirin!) But another good reason to make your own is the sodium content.

Kikkoman Less Sodium Teriyaki Marinade and Sauce contains 320 mg salt per tablespoon. By comparison, their regular teriyaki sauce has 610 mg sodium per tablespoon. Considering that most recipes call for a cup of the sauce, that's a really mind-blowing amount of salt!

My family of six would be taking in 853 mg of salt from a serving of chicken teriyaki – and that's assuming we used the reduced sodium formulation! The full-salt version gives us almost 1630 mg of salt per serving. For someone on a low-sodium diet the limit for salt is only 1500 mg per day. So eating a portion of chicken teriyaki is blows the whole day's budget on one meal!

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

Let's see if the homemade teriyaki sauce can do any better. The recipe I like relies heavily on soy sauce, which we know is salty. It also adds mirin, some brown sugar, and a little garlic and ginger for flavour. Not too much sodium there, so the main concern is the soy sauce.

Salt Content in Soy Sauce

My store brand soy sauce has a whopping 890 mg of sodium in just a single tablespoon . When we split the teriyaki sauce six ways each of us is getting roughly 1780 mg of sodium, which is actually more than the commercial sauce contains .

So what to do? I figured you'd just substitute low-sodium soy sauce. Sounds like a good plan, doesn't it? Well, maybe not so much!

It turns out that Kikkoman's Less Sodium Soy Sauce contains 575 mg of salt per tablespoon. While it is a reduction, that's still 1150 mg sodium for one serving of teriyaki. Yikes!

The thing is, salt is necessary to soy sauce. It helps the fermentation process along, and it acts as a preservative for the finished product. If you take too much salt away – well, it's just not soy sauce anymore....

So can we really make chicken teriyaki that Angel can eat? Stay tuned for part two! We'll learn if it's possible....

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Image credit: Beef teriyaki by Jon Sullivan/PublicDomainImages


Sodium: How to tame your salt habit ” (Mayo Clinic)

Soy sauce ” (How Products Are Made)

Disclosure: The author has no connection to any brand or company mentioned herein, and has not been compensated in any way for such mentions.

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Feisty56 wrote on October 29, 2014, 8:03 PM

How generous of you to look into the potential for those on sodium-restricted diets to enjoy teriyaki. I'm not on such a diet, but do look to limit my sodium intake as I can, so I'm looking forward to Part 2.

AngelSharum wrote on October 29, 2014, 10:12 PM

Sweet of you to figure this out all for me. :)

sheilagamo wrote on October 30, 2014, 7:48 AM

I have used some low salt soy sauce in the past. I'm sure you can make low-salt teriyaki sauce.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 31, 2014, 5:01 AM

The truth is Deb, I felt perhaps I was dismissing Angel's concerns too easily by saying she could just use a low-sodium soy sauce. I felt I'd answered without taking the necessary care, so I went back to do a proper job :)

Ruby3881 wrote on October 31, 2014, 5:03 AM

It was my pleasure, dear Angel! I hope you can enjoy some really delicious homemade teriyaki now :)

Ruby3881 wrote on October 31, 2014, 5:06 AM

Did you check out the figures for low-sodium soy sauce above? Using my standard recipe, even the low-sodium soy would be dangerous for someone like Angel. The amount of salt in her portion of teriyaki would be almost the entire allowance for a day.

I did find a way to make low-sodium teriyaki, and I described it in the second part of this post :)