For the past year, we’ve been staying at home and cooking far more than we used to. Even as restaurants begin to go back to business-as-usual, many of us are now preparing most of our meals at home rather than dining out several times a week. Keeping our pantries well-stocked with versatile, tasty and healthy ingredients is a total must, and whether you’re a seasoned cook or a kitchen newbie, you might now be on the lookout for some new staples to try out to elevate your dishes.
One brand that we keep going back to is one of Hong Kong’s most recognisable ones – Lee Kum Kee, now of world fame, – whose fermented products, such as soy sauces, Soy Bean Sauce and vinegar have time and again helped home cooks nail the perfect flavours in vegan-friendly Asian dishes, while keeping things healthy and sustainable. We’re big fans ourselves- every last one of us stocks a selection at home, so below, we share our top reasons for keeping Lee Kum Kee’s condiments stocked in your low-waste, plant-based kitchen.
1. Fermented foods are a big health trend right now, and for good reason
There’s a growing body of evidence showing the health benefits of fermented foods, and it’s become quite a big trend in the well-being and nutrition world to incorporate more fermented foods into our diets. Consumption of products like kimchi, soy sauce and kombucha has increased by as much as 149% in restaurants in recent years. But this is not some meaningless fad- fermented foods are hugely beneficial to your gut.
Traditionally, fermentation is used to preserve foods and extend its shelf life – but the process also gives the food an extra boost of healthy gut-friendly microorganisms that are great for our digestive systems. In addition to promoting bowel regularity and digestion, eating fermented foods has also been linked to better mood, cognitive function, higher immunity and weight management – just to name a few!
2. Lee Kum Kee’s soy sauce range is made using natural, traditional sun fermentation
There are loads of fermented foods on the market, but Lee Kum Kee’s soy sauce range stands out because they have stuck to age-old culinary traditions that use a natural sun fermentation process. To make their famous soy sauce, Lee Kum Kee mixes soybeans, wheat flour and Aspergillus spores together to cultivate koji, which then ferments in brine over three to six months under the sun. This process creates a clear, reddish-brown coloured sauce that packs an umami punch and has a rich aroma – perfect for enhancing any dish you’re cooking.
3. Fermented soy contains far more nutrients than regular soy sauces
Another reason why we picked Lee Kum Kee’s soy sauce is because it boasts a far better nutrient profile, thanks to the natural fermentation process the brand uses. It takes far more time and is costlier than the industrialised methods used to produce formulated soy sauces. Fermented soy sauces contain different amino acids – including essential amino acids our bodies need – and unlike formulated soy sauces, they don’t contain any acid-hydrolysed vegetable protein seasoning or food additives such as flavour enhancers. The flavour you get is completely natural and doesn’t give off any unpleasant “choking” smell associated with formulated blends.
4. Lee Kum Kee’s range is packaged sustainably in glass jars & made in a renewable-powered facility
Lee Kum Kee’s range also scores points because the vast majority are packaged in glass jars and bottles rather than in plastic – always something we’re looking out for to keep our pantries low-waste. You can recycle these jars and bottles after you’re done, or even reuse and repurpose them at home, from storing things in your cabinet to upcycling it into a DIY candle.
Aside from cutting down on packaging waste, Lee Kum Kee’s soy sauce is made in a premium LEED-certified facility – they’re the first brand in the global fermented food industry to have earned the achievement. Equipped with a solar photovoltaic power generation system, geothermal heat pumps, a wetland park and wastewater treatment facilities, you can rest assured that your condiments are being manufactured in an eco-friendly way.
Other sustainability initiatives that the brand has undertaken include launching more meatless, veggie-filled recipe demonstrations at their trade events, in order to promote low-carbon planet-friendly diets.
5. The sauces are super easy to incorporate into classic Asian dishes, from dumplings to stir-fries
Finally, Lee Kum Kee’s condiments are so versatile and can pretty much be added into any recipe to give your vegan Asian dinner that extra flavour boost. While the brand is not exclusively plant-based, they do offer a wide variety of vegan-friendly condiments, including their Vegetarian Oyster Flavoured Sauce, Mushroom Bouillon Powder and of course, its flagship range of soy sauces, from chilli-infused to gluten-free.
If you’re looking for some cooking inspiration, the brand has put together loads of meatless recipes using their sauces here, featuring classic Asian dishes like Steamed Eggplant with Garlic, Braised Beancurd and Black Garlic, and the iconic vegetarian dish Buddha’s Delight.
All images courtesy of Lee Kum Kee.