Golden Mountain Sauce: the Secret Thai Sauce

One of Thai Cuisine's Secret Ingredients

Har gow in chopsticks dipping into sauce
Paul Poplis / Getty Images

Golden Mountain Sauce is often thought to be a secret ingredient in Thai food, at least here in North America where it is only now becoming known. This sauce has been used for well over a century in Thailand, contributing a special flavor to Thai stir-fries and other dishes.


Like soy sauce, golden mountain sauce is composed mainly of fermented soy beans and salt. It tastes quite different from soy sauce, however: slightly saltier, plus there is a hint of sweetness (it does contain sugar).

There is no MSG in this sauce, but the Thais do add what they call 'flavor enhancer' in small amounts (similar to MSG, but without the negative effects), and a preservative.

Good for Vegetarians 

One of the great things about this sauce is that it is fine for vegetarians and vegans - it even contains a substantial amount of plant protein from fermented soy, which is considered very healthy. For vegetarians who like to cook Thai, this sauce can sometimes work as an adequate substitute for fish sauce, especially in stir-fries and tofu dishes. Note: Golden Mountain Sauce does contain a small amount of wheat, so it is not recommended for gluten-free diets.


If you're looking for a substitute for golden mountain sauce, I suggest soy sauce mixed with sugar and vegetable or chicken stock (e.g. for every 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, mix with 2 Tbsp. stock, plus 1/4 tsp. sugar.). However, if you're looking for real Thai flavor, I suggest going out and getting yourself a bottle of golden mountain sauce - it will last a long time, as a little goes a long way.

Shopping Tips 

You can find golden mountain sauce in Asian food stores, but it's a bit difficult to track down. The easiest way is to order it online ( Buy Golden Mountain Sauce ). Note: If shopping in stores, look for 'naturally fermented' somewhere on the label; otherwise you may be buying hydrolyzed soy protein (used in fake soy sauces) which is unhealthy and even toxic in high levels.

Golden Mountain Sauce is especially delicious in Thai stir-fry dishes such as Classic Thai Basil Chicken, Thai Basil Pork , or Thai Chicken Stir-Fry with Lemongrass, Tomatoes, and Fresh Herbs .