Like every other food writer on the planet, my fridge is littered with jars of mystery pickles, infusions, and marinades. I (mostly) love them all, but I’m not above playing favourites, and right now, a jam jar full of soy sauce, garlic skins, scallion butts, and ginger peels is the light of my life.
The origin story is a familiar one: I was feeling lazy, and accidentally did something smart. While making fried rice a few weeks ago, I found myself with a bunch of allium scraps and a full compost bucket. Rather than empty it like a functioning adult, I decided to toss those odds and ends into a bowl of soy sauce and let everything soak while I prepped the other ingredients. After a mere 10-minute soak, the soy sauce had absorbed a noticeable amount of flavours from the garlic, ginger, and scallions. It made a mean batch of fried rice.
Instead of tossing the scraps, I decided to top them off with more soy sauce, transfer everything to a jar, and let it hang out in the fridge for a while to see if I could find the extraction limit. It’s been almost 3 weeks and I haven’t found it yet; the infusion definitely gets stronger and funkier the longer it sits, but in good way. I think it helps that soy sauce is so powerfully salty and pungent itself—you can really load it up with alliums without throwing the flavour balance out of whack.
If you cook with a lot of ginger, garlic, and scallions, I strongly recommend starting a little infusion jar of your own. It’s an excellent condiment to have on hand for all manner of stir-fries and marinades, but I like it best mixed with seasoned rice vinegar to make an intensely delicious dumpling (among other things) dipping sauce.