Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce

One of Thai Cuisine's Secret Ingredients

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

Golden Mountain seasoning 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. In Thailand, however, it is a cooking staple since this sauce has been used for well over a century there, contributing a special flavor to Thai stir-fries and other dishes.

Like soy sauce, Golden Mountain sauce is composed mainly of fermented soybeans and salt.

It tastes quite different from soy sauce, however—it is 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. Do take note that Golden Mountain sauce does contain a small amount of wheat, so it is not recommended for gluten-free diets.

Shopping Tips 

You can find Golden Mountain seasoning sauce in Asian food stores, but it's a bit difficult to track down.

The easiest way to purchase it is to order it online. If you do try to find it in a store, 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.

Acceptable Substitutions

If you don't have any Golden Mountain sauce but your recipe calls for it, you can create something that will suffice by mixing soy sauce with sugar and vegetable or chicken stock.

(For every 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, mix with 2 tablespoons stock, plus 1/4 teaspoons sugar.) But it isn't a replacement for the real thing, so if you're looking for authentic Thai flavor, it is best to get yourself a bottle of Golden Mountain sauce. It will last a long time, as a little goes a long way.

Using in Recipes

Golden Mountain seasoning 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. It also adds delicious flavor to American dishes such as rice, eggs, and fish.