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Sesame-Soy Surprise

How to make Jonathan Waxman's favorite sauce

"Buy organic tamari—wheat-free soy sauce—low-sodium if possible," chef Jonathan Waxman advises. "A lot of other soy sauce is just crap." Waxman praises sesame oil as a "magical ingredient," but if you happen to have avocado oil on hand, it's a fine substitute and a particularly wise choice when grilling meat thanks to its high smoke point. Because all of these ingredients can lose their potency or go rancid fast, he recommends refrigerating them after opening, as well as refrigerating any extra marinade.

You don't need a lot of this intensely flavored marinade to infuse meat or fish—just enough to coat the surface. The ratios below of two parts oil and vinegar to one part soy sauce can be easily multiplied for larger portions. Play around by whisking in a little chili oil or a pinch of chili flakes, or a teaspoon of grated ginger or garlic.

To learn more, read our story, "Jonathan Waxman's Secret Weapon."

Soy-Sesame Sauce

Recipe adapted from Jonathan Waxman, Barbuto, New York City

Yield: cup


¼ cup toasted sesame oil

¼ cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons organic tamari soy sauce


1. Whisk together the sesame oil and rice vinegar.

2. Whisk in the soy sauce 1 tablespoon at a time, tasting for levels of salt and personal preference in between additions. The brand of soy sauce will affect the flavor.

Test Kitchen Approved

We collaborate with a lot of talented chefs and tinker with everything in our test kitchen. Our goal is to make sure every recipe works as well in your home kitchen as it does in ours. So go on, cook with confidence.


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