Sozyë Nish, Noya and Noyster: Soya and fish-free organic sauces for sustainable, healthy, tasty dishes

This is a timely tale about how we can all help create a brave new greener world.  

The global taste for soy sauces and soya beans requires a constant removal of the crop which has greatly reduced the ability of forests to absorb and store carbon dioxide. Sea life is also affected as fish and oysters are used for the production of fish-based sauces.

Observing this serious ecological and environmental impact, Jacob Thundil used his experience and passion for food and innovation to create a range of organic, allergen-free, sustainable tasty sauces.

Jacob Thundil sourcing seaweed on a Scottish beach near Wick

 “While experimenting to make a vegetarian stock, the savoury notes from a particular Scottish seaweed reminded me of fermented soya. This led me to carry out hundreds of kitchen trials to perfect the world’s first British soya sauce alternative. I hope you will support our mission to brew delicious sauces which are kind to the planet and to you.”

Jacob Thundil, Founder – Sozyë

Thundil sourced sustainably-harvested, certified organic seaweed from the seashore near Wick on the North East coastline of Scotland – only the tops of the leaves are collected to enable them to regrow within a few weeks.  Sozyë Noya, Nish and Noyster sauces are formulated as soya-free, plant-based alternatives to soy, fish, and oyster sauces.

Soy sauce is traditionally produced by fermenting soybeans and wheat, a staple ingredient in  Oriental dishes and a popular seasoning in American cuisine.  The daily consumption of soy sauce in Japan alone is estimated at about 30 ml per person. That’s a lot of soya beans.

A traditional Fish sauce is made by fermenting anchovies with salt for up to 12 months.  It’s used in many different Asian dishes predominately Vietnam and Thailand, a popular ingredient due to its robust flavour profile.  It can also be made from shrimp and tuna belly.

A traditional Oyster sauce contains oyster extract, soya, wheat, and a handful of preservatives, also used in many different Asian dishes. 

The world famous Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

Many people might not realise that Worcestershire sauce is actually a Fish Sauce, (also made from anchovies), first created in the city of Worcester in 1837 by two pharmacists John Lea and William Perrins, thereby founding Lea & Perrins, still today a household brand. Pronounced Wooster-sher, it’s used to flavour steak, chicken and fried fish, added to soups and stews and is an essential ingredient of a Bloody Mary.

The biggest misconception about an Anchovy-based sauce is that it’s “fishy.”  In cooking, the fermented seafood functions more like salt and brings a deep, savoury, umami punch. 

There used to be just four main flavour profiles for food and drink – sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Now we have a fifth taste, umami, a distinctive savoury taste, which comes from the Japanese word meaning the ‘essence of deliciousness.’  It was coined by a Japanese chemist, Kikunae Ikeda, who noticed a particular flavour in asparagus, hard cheese and dashi, a Japanese stock made from kombu (kelp), a brown seaweed found in shallow coastal seawater.

Stronger flavoured foods like anchovies, salted fish, Parmesan, mushrooms, fish sauce, seaweed, oysters and olives et al. have an umami profile.  Words used to describe umami include well-rounded harmony, aromatic, and appetizing.

Seaweed has been part of the Japanese diet for thousands of years and Nori is perhaps the most familiar type used to make Sushi rolls. Eating seaweed is a super-healthy and nutritious way to add extra vitamins and minerals to your diet.

In Scotland, seaweed has been gathered on the sea shore – not so much for eating –  but for the exquisitely crafted, seasalt-infused Isle of Harris gin.  Sugar Kelp, gathered sustainably by hand from local sea-lochs, is the key botanical and when there is no ‘r’ in the month, the kelp is left to recover and grow, ensuring this vital local habitat for sea life is not harmed.

ishga skincare: The name ishga is the Gaelic word for water and the Hebridean Islands is where the mineral rich seaweed is sourced to create its organic skincare with anti-ageing and hydrating properties.  The award winning ishga marine cream is described as a ‘revolutionary antioxidant moisturiser’.

Hebridean seaweed – the active ingredient in ishga marine skincare

Seaweed is therefore such a versatile, nurtritious, natural plant for health and beauty. So let’s have a taste of Sozyë sauces with a few appetising ideas for classic Asian dishes and cocktails.

Sozyë Noya Sauce is sweet and savoury with a slight salty flavour and can substitute both dark and light soya sauces.  Add as normal to a stir-fry, and when sautéing vegetables or to flavour white or brown rice.  Start by adding a little at a time during cooking to check the taste to your liking. Use as a marinade mixed with herbs and spices, in salad dressings and it’s the perfect dipping sauce for sushi.

Noya sauce with Sushi rolls

Celebrate Chinese New Year: Health and Happiness Noodles (based on recipe by Gok Wan)

340g dry Yi Mein noodles, 1 tablespoon groundnut oil, 2 cloves crushed garlic, piece of chopped ginger, 100g asparagus, 100g green beans, 2 spring onions; 3 tbsp Noya sauce, 2 tbsp Noyster sauce, 2 tsp runny honey,  ½ tsp sesame oil, ground white pepper, toasted sesame seeds, 50g pea shoots. Serves 4

Blanch the noodles in boiling water for 2 mins, drain and put in a bowl of cold water to prevent sticking.  Heat the groundnut oil in a wok and add the chopped vegetables and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger. Return the noodles to the pan and mix through, then add a little hot water, Noya and Noyster sauce, sesame oil and honey. Heat through and then season with, if required, a little salt and pepper.  Garnish with sesame seeds and pea shoots.

Chinese New Year – Happiness Noodle dish

Sozyë-style Bloody Mary  

50 cl Vodka, 120cl tomato juice, a few shakes of Noya or Nish sauce *, a few shakes of Tabasco, pinch of celery salt, ground pepper.  Celery sticks, olives and a slice of lemon or lime for garnish. (* instead of Worcestershire sauce)

Bloody Mary – vegetarian style with Noya or Nish sauce

Sozyë Nish or Noyster sauces would also be the ideal alternative, (if you are not vegetarian) for a Bloody Caesar which is made with Clamato juice, to complement its pungent flavour of the sea.  

Sozyë Nish sauce is the first like-for-like substitute for regular Fish Sauce – organic, soy, fish and gluten-free made from Scottish seaweed.   I first splashed a generous dash of Nish Sauce into a vegetarian Mie Goreng and the flavour is amazing: yes, that quintessential umami salty, earthy mushroom or avocado flavour – to my palate anyway.  A fried egg, sunny side up, is the golden crown of this delectable noodle dish.

A delicious Mie Goreng with a perfect soft fried egg on top

Again use Sozyë Nish sauce as a dip, a marinade, for a warming depth of flavour to pasta and mix with garlic and chilli for a salad dressing. It also does not have the slightly harsh vinegar undertone which is more prevalent in the Noya sauce. 

Nuoc Cham

This tasty, tangy Vietnamese dipping sauce and dressing has a subtle umami kick.  

3 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons sugar, ½ cup water, 2 ½ tablespoons Nish sauce.  Optional ingredients:1 small garlic clove, finely minced, 1 or 2 thinly sliced chillies.

Combine the lime juice, sugar and water, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add the Nish sauce and any of the optional ingredients. Taste and adjust to your liking, balancing out the sour, sweet, salty and spicy flavours. Perfect for dipping fried Spring rolls, grilled prawns or chicken, drizzle over rice and as a vibrant salad dressing.

Nuoc Cham dipping sauce and dressing

Pad Thai

The popular street food in Thailand is a quick and easy stir fry noodle dish to try in order to experiment with Nish Sauce.  It can be adapted for all diets as it is traditionally made with prawns, chicken or tofu (or other vegetables), with peanuts, egg, tamarind paste, garlic and bean sprouts all sautéed together in a wok.  Many recipes on line for meat, fish and vegetarian/vegan options.

Pad Thai with either chicken, prawns or tofu

Sozyë invented the world’s first Oyster Sauce alternative from Scottish seaweed.  Noyster Sauce is the ideal substitute, a well-balanced blend of sweet, salty and savoury with a hint of seaweed. Again it can be simply used as a dip such as Nouc Cham (as above), in a vinaigrette, stir-fries, roasted vegetables, a marinade and to flavour meat and fish. 

Asian Greens

1 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 tbsp Noyster sauce, 350g mixed Asian greens (pak choi, choy sum or tatsoi)

Stir the oil and Noyster sauce with 1 tbsp water in a saucepan. Cook for 2-3 mins until glossy, then set aside.  Cook the greens in salted boiling water, simmering for 2 minutes until just wilted, then drain and drizzle the sauce over the greens.  

Mixed Asian greens with Noyster Sauce

Noyster Sauce Vegetable stir fry

For this revamped classic Asian side dish, choose what you like from broccoli, chopped carrots, green beans, sugar snaps, chopped eggplant, sliced red onion, mushrooms, kale, pok choy, asparagus, baby corn, bean sprouts. Cauliflower florets will need an extra few minutes to cook.   For two people, this is a quick and simple stir fry with vegetable oil flavoured with 2 tsp garlic paste, 4 tbsp Noyster sauce and 2 tbsp Nish sauce.

Vegetable stir fry with Noyster sauce.

Food for thought!

To paraphrase marketing tag lines from Lea and Perrins:

Just a dash of Sozyë brings food alive’.

Splash into your spaghetti Bolognese and add a splosh into your stir-fry.!’

These exciting, innovative British-made Sozyë Noya, Nish and Noyster sauces made from Scottish seaweed have already achieved great success as the winner of the Great Taste Awards in October 2021. 

For more information:

https://sozye.com/

Available from Planet Organic Instore and www.planetorganic.com

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About vivdevlin

I am an international travel writer, specialising in luxury travel, hotels, restaurants, city guides, cruises, islands, train and literary-inspired journeys. I review dance and theatre, Arts Festivals and love the visual arts. I have just experienced an epic voyage, circumnavigating the globe, following in the wake of Captain Cook, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson.

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