As a personal chef for quite a few families, I have cooked for individuals who have allergies and sensitivities to a wide range of food items. Soy, milk, eggs, wheat, gluten, sesame, peanut, corn, and shellfish, just to name a few. As a Chef, I want to cook delicious flavorful dishes and it can be very challenging when I am trying to re -create a dish allergen free. This was especially difficult when cooking Asian cuisine, as many sauces contain soy, wheat and peanut. The great news is that we are now seeing more and more allergen free products on our shelves that can be swapped in.
Soy Sauce was always a hard one. For the longest time there was nothing that could replicate the deep, salty- umami flavor in a dish quite like soy sauce. However, now there is a great substitute that I use quite often – coconut aminos. Brewed like soy sauce but made from coconut and completely soy and wheat free, coconut aminos is a great addition to stir fry’s and marinades. My favorite brand is “Coconut Secret”. Another allergen free staple of Asian cuisine that I absolutely love is soy free chickpea miso. Again, completely soy and wheat free, and full of rich flavor and live cultures. Great in marinades, miso soup or salad dressings. My favorite brand is “Miso Master.” Both the coconut aminos and chickpea miso can be found at Whole Foods and other large health food stores. Sesame isn’t the most common allergen, but I have come across it. To replicate the rich nutty flavor of sesame oil in a sauce or marinade, I use a little sunflower butter instead. If I were making a Thai peanut sauce I would use half almond butter and half sunflower butter in place of the peanut butter- the sunflower butter lending that distinctly toasty, sesame- like flavor.