January 14, 2011

Homework and Kimchi Pancakes

What you see before you is a bonito flaked Kimchi Pancake made by Namu at the SF Ferry Building Thursday street cart Farmers Market.

And this, my salt-free friends, is a foursome of salty but succulent duck sliders from Tilth restaurant in Seattle.

And if turf is not your thing, then behold! A crisp skate wing with frothy chorizo/clam broth from Redd in Napa will do the trick.

Or maybe your taste buds want to travel and they’re ready to hop on a plane and try some real pad thai from a market in Thailand.

Before you commit me to the low sodium looney bin, or worse yet, you decide to UNsubscribe from this blog, let me explain the tortuous food porn photo essay above. As a low sodium eater, I rarely feel limited. I’ve been able to substitute savy salt-free ingredients for typically salty ones. I eat out often and I eat well. And I was even treated to some real Thai cuisine while in Thailand, without having to compromise my diet or my health.

Food boundaries? Not for this ever-hungry bunny.

But, the truth is that there are many dishes, whether from my childhood memories or my neighborhood pizza place, that I cannot currently eat. That I crave. That I dream about. That I want to makeover, without the salt. And with time, I will.

I do not see these dishes (featured in the pictures above) as examples of my limitations. I see them as inspiration. Muses for salt-free masterpieces. And I want you to do the same.

For this upcoming weekend, I’m assigning you some homework. I want you to think about food. Salty food.

Start (re)collecting the meals, the menu items, and the culinary memories that you wish you could enjoy on your low sodium diet. Then, send them my way. Post them on the

  • TWEET ME @sodiumgirl
  • or simply POST A COMMENT BELOW

Yeah, that’s right, you have three options. Three! So I expect to see these sites blowing up with sodium free activity!

And with the upcoming, national sport holiday – the Super Bowl – I’m sure there is a dip, a wing, or a 27-layer dip that you are dying to eat. So let’s get the Salt-Free My Recipe requests going. You never know, it may end up in the book!

Happy Friday to you all. May there be many happy hours, happy meals, and happy bellies. See you on Monday.

Chow on.

waiwa January 14, 2011 at 10:25 am

how about lobster roll? double combo of salty being lobster and kaiser roll…perhaps crayfish and freshly baked bread???

sodium girl January 14, 2011 at 10:28 am

As Michelle from Full House says, “You got it dude!” Great idea and don’t forget, it’s not only the lobster and the bread that need a make-over, it is the mayo/yummy sauce that needs fixing too! This. Is. Exciting!

Hilary Perry January 14, 2011 at 10:42 am

What I miss most on my restricted sodium diet is soup, pea soup and homemade chicken soup with matzo balls, being Jewish, I grew up on homemade chicken soup and as an adult continued to make it, for seasoning I used chicken bouillon cubes, I know there are salt free ones available but they don’t give the soup any flavor, my mother used the flavor cube in Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup but too much sodium. PLEASE HELP, I NEED MY CHICKEN SOUP!

sodium girl January 14, 2011 at 10:57 am

Hilary – matzoh ball soup is officially on the to-do list! Until then, here are some low sodium, wintery soup recipe favorites of mine to quench that burning desire for something luscious and warm: Pea Soup – http://wp.me/pIlmQ-X; Creamy Chicken No Noodle Soup – http://wp.me/pIlmQ-jy; Fennel Corn Chowder – http://wp.me/pIlmQ-9S; In Minutes Minestrone – http://wp.me/pIlmQ-5l

Hope this helps. Salt-free Matzoh balls coming to a bowl near you soon.

Raven January 17, 2011 at 11:27 am

I second the mention of soup. I’ve been trying soup recipes for almost two years now — my own concoctions, megaheart recipes, Sodium Girl recipes, and anything else I came across in my online low-sodium-recipe search. Nothing has worked, no matter how wonderful other (non-soup) recipes are from the various sites and sources. And then I accidentally made a downright decent, satisfying soup ON ACCIDENT a couple nights ago, as I was blabbing on the phone at 3 in the morning and not paying attention to what I was mindlessly concocting. Still, that one anomalous creation aside, I’m still very much interested in finding truly good soup recipes, because so far every one I’ve found has let me down at least a little.

Also, my mom’s beschamel-based hamburger gravy and cheese sauces. My dad’s mindblowingly awesome spaghetti sauce. Eggnog. Green-bean casserole (much like the soup recipes, all known low-sodium recipes for this have let me down). A truly good scone. Bacon. Ham. A breakfast cereal other than shredded wheat/mini-wheats, oatmeal or other grain meal, and granola. Refried beans (or any other form of beans) that actually taste good.

I’m sure I could keep going, but I’m depressing myself a bit.

sodium girl January 17, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Congrats on finally finding a soup that worked…what did you make? And do you have any thoughts on why it was satisfying? Was it the texture? Taste? Heat? Spice? Perhaps we can figure out together how to make it again.

And thanks for the laundry list of awesome salt-free my recipe suggestions. Eggnog is up there and I agree with you about the green-bean casserole thing. I actually don’t know if I’ve ever had one (with or without salt) that I really liked. As for the beans, what brands have you tried or are you making them from scratch?

Raven January 18, 2011 at 3:42 am

Luckily for me, even though I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing and my body was just making up the recipe on autopilot, my brain was recording for future reference. So I could pretty much duplicate it when I decide to make more and do a bit of tinkering to improve it.

It was chicken and brown rice (which holds up much better in soup than white, and which I like better anyway). It took quite a while to make, but I think that’s why the taste was satisfying. It started out more like a brown-rice version of risotto, heavily accented with a couple different paprikas, ground pepper blend, garlic, onion, a bit of carrot and celery (minimal use because of the sodium levels), and some other general herbs/spices, slowly cooked in fats. Deglazed first with wine and followed with numerous rounds of chicken stock until the rice was a bit less than al dente. Then I added enough stock to make a reasonable soup liquid, added a little extra to account for residual absorption by the rice, let it simmer a while longer, and that was it. As with most soups, it was even better after a day’s rest (mine and its). Ate it with homemade Hawaiian sweet bread one night and homemade sourdough rolls the next (I can’t stand storebought low-sodium breads — the few that can even be found all taste like cardboard to me.)

It wasn’t complicated or labor intensive; it just required I spend the time to do it slowly and build the flavors intensely, layer after layer, rather than the more common “throw it all together and let it cook” approach to soupmaking. I have all sorts of ideas now that I’m going to use to tinker with this base process now that I’ve found something that works for my tastes.

Maybe that’s my main thought here: on a restricted diet like this, each person has to keep playing with things, experimenting with information gained from anywhere they find it, until they come up with something that works for them. Some recipes just take longer than others to get them where you want them.

I haven’t come across any commercial refried beans that were low-sodium enough for me to eat, so my few experiences so far have been homemade. I don’t have a problem finding low-sodium canned beans (or, in deference to my frugal bent, making them myself from dry beans), but their use, be it as refried beans or in soups or whatever, is generally marred by the bland taste that’s natural for beans, even when augmented with onions, garlic, and the other usual flavor providers. Now that I’ve had some success with the soup-base process, I’ll expand that to see if I can apply it to making flavorful bean soups, but that still leaves me lacking for a good refried-beans idea. :-/

Felicity @ Our Little Beehive January 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Oh my goodness do you recipes look delicious!

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