Baking and Cooking Advice

Asian dining with a difference: A soy-free vegetarian's quick guide to ordering Asian cuisine

Having allergies, food intolerances and specific dietary requirements can make dining out a nightmare, particularly if that cuisine is well-known for foods you can't have. If you're a soy-free vegetarian, check out this quick guide to help you order a delicious meal at your local Asian restaurant.

Know the lingo

Most of us know the different names for meat products, but soy can be found in many forms that you might not be aware of. Before heading to your local Asian restaurant for a soy-free meal, take the time to learn which soy-rich foods are common to Asian cuisine. While meat alternatives such as tofu, tempeh and textured vegetable protein (TVP) are commonly known, whole soy products such as edamame, soy nuts, natto and whole soybeans are also regularly included in Asian meals.

Some popular Asian sauces rely on soy for flavour; shoyu contains wheat and soybeans, while tamari is a miso by-product made from soybeans alone. If you are not hyper-allergic to soy or choose to be soy-free for health reasons, you may be able to have a small amount of soy sauce or teriyaki, as both contain minimal soy that has been traditionally fermented.

Do your homework

While unfermented soy products have been linked to some serious adverse affects, traditionally fermented soy is a wonderful health food rich in vitamin K2. For those who can eat traditionally fermented soy, you may want to include tempeh, natto and miso; however, chat with your Asian restaurant prior to ordering to ensure these soy products are fermented.

If you are concerned that an Asian restaurant won't cater to your meat and soy-free diet, take the time to check out their menu before you head out and you'll likely be surprised what foods you will be able to eat. Many restaurants make their menus available online, and this will give you a chance to make a game plan and actually look forward to enjoying a delicious Asian meal!

Be honest, polite and armed with substitutes

When the time comes to order your meal, be upfront about your dietary requirements in a respectful manner. By being specific about the foods that you cannot eat, while offering substitute ideas, such as more veg, fermented soy products or beans and legumes, you will help the chef cater for your needs and ensure that your dining experience is a pleasure.

For more information and advice on substituting soy and meat in your order, chat with the chef at your local helpful Asian restaurant today.

About Me

Baking and Cooking Advice

Hello! I'm Diana. This blog is dedicated to the subject of baking and cooking. I am not a professional baker or a chef. Everything I have learnt, I have taught myself using books. Well, that isn't strictly true. My mother and my aunt also used to give me some great advice when I needed help with a tricky recipe. Now that I have retired, I have plenty of time to cook and bake for my friends and family and I wanted to make a place where I could store all the advice I have in one place. That place is this blog. Enjoy!



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