If you are among those who must restrict their sodium intake, then you probably are a label reader already. Consequently, it will come as no shock that the majority of condiments contain rather large amounts of sodium. Staple items like catsup, mustard, mayonnaise, salad dressings and prepared seasoning sauces--horseradish, barbecue, chili, worcestershire and hot pepper, for instance--are high in sodium. And almost all pickles, relishes and olives have spent some time in brine.
What's more, many of the currently popular Oriental recipes rely heavily on seasonings high in sodium: monosodium glutamate, oyster sauce, soy sauce, cooking wines such as sherry and rice wines, teriyaki sauce.
The spice shelf should also be approached with caution. Meat tenderizer, seasoned salt combinations (like celery or garlic salt) and seafood seasoning are all loaded with the stuff. A check of the label reveals salt listed as the first ingredient and in some cases MSG listed as the second.
But low-sodium alternatives to these high-sodium seasonings can be made at home. And if they are stored in an attractive container or bottle, you might just be able to convince the whole family to live without sodium-heavy sauces and condiments.
The following recipe for Oriental Pepper Steak is given in its original form. In parentheses you will find substitutions that improve flavor and lower sodium content. The other recipes are designed as low-sodium substitutes for commercially made condiments.
ORIENTAL PEPPER STEAK (4 servings) 1 pound lean boneless beef 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger (1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger) 2 hot chilies or jalapen o peppers, minced 1 teaspoon garlic salt (1 clove garlic, minced) 1 teaspoon MSG (eliminate) 3 tablespoons soy sauce (eliminate) 3 tablespoons sherry (6 tablespoons dark, dry sherry but not cooking sherry) 1/4 cup oil 2 cups thinly sliced raw vegetables (any single vegetable or combinations such as celery, carrots and green beans, with the vegetables that take longer to cook more thinly sliced)
Slice beef thin and set aside. Combine all other ingredients except oil and vegetables and pour over beef strips. Marinate for at least 1 hour, preferably 3 or 4. Thoroughly drain beef. Heat oil and stir-fry beef briefly. Add vegetables and any liquid left from the marinade. Stir-fry until crisply tender. Serve over rice.
BASIC TOMATO SAUCE (Makes about 3 cups)
This sauce is a jumping-off point for many tomato-based seasonings. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 2 onions, peeled and chopped 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 29-ounce can tomato pure'e (check the label for salt content) 1 tablespoon each basil, marjoram and sugar 1/4 cup vinegar 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Saute onion and garlic in oil until limp but not brown. Combine with all remaining ingredients in blender until smooth. Return to pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool and refrigerate, covered. This sauce can also be used as catsup or as a base for one of the following variations.
Barbecue sauce: To 1 cup basic sauce add 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 2 tablespoons molasses and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Combine. Brush on meats such as chicken and ribs before and during baking or broiling.
Hot sauce: In blender combine 1/2 cup basic sauce with 2 finely chopped jalapen o or hot chili peppers until peppers are completely incorporated. Thin with vinegar to desired consistency. Cool, bottle and refrigerate. Use sparingly.
Pizza sauce: To each cup of basic sauce add 1 teaspoon oregano.
Chili or taco sauce: To each cup of basic sauce add 1 chopped hot chili pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon oregano. Blend until smooth. Add to browned and drained meat of choice and/or beans. Caution: Do not substitute prepared chili powder for these spices.
HORSERADISH SAUCE Horseradish root Vinegar Sour cream or yogurt
Scrub root. Scrape off brown exterior. Grate fairly fine in blender or food processor. Store, covered with vinegar, in a jar in refrigerator. At serving time combine equal parts of drained horseradish and either yogurt or sour cream, depending on your taste.
MUSTARD (Makes 1 cup) 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar 1/4 cup dry mustard 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 eggs
Combine all ingredients in saucepan except eggs. Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is hot. Beat eggs well in mixing bowl. Continue beating while gradually adding hot mixture. Return to saucepan and heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Do not boil. Cool and refrigerate in a covered container.
FRENCH DRESSING (Makes 1 3/4 cups) 3/4 cup vinegar 1 cup salad oil 1/2 teaspoon each peppercorns, dry mustard, tarragon 1 tablespoon tomato pure'e (or basic tomato sauce above)
Combine all ingredients thoroughly in blender. Bottle and refrigerate.