Most Chinese garlic sauce recipes share at least two ingredients, with a wide variety of additions, each of which add character and nutrients to the dish. Making your own Chinese garlic sauce allows you more control of the salt and sugar content, and important factor for anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. It also allows you more control of cooking times and temperatures in order to prevent destruction of heat-sensitive vitamin C and allicin.
Shoyu soy sauce, made from soy and wheat, provides 902 mg of sodium per 1 tbsp., while gluten-free tamari soy sauce has 1005 mg per 1 tbsp. Chinese garlic sauce recipes call for anywhere between 2 tsp. and 1/2 cup of shoyu or tamari. Use the least amount of soy sauce that pleases your palate when making Chinese garlic sauce at home, to reduce your sodium intake.
Black Bean Paste
A 1/4 cup serving of mashed black beans adds no sodium, 60 mg of phosphorus, 153 mg of potassium and 64 mcg of folate to your Chinese garlic sauce. Commercially-prepared black bean paste contains about 3 g of sodium per 1/4-cup serving, making the mashed beans a healthier choice.
Commercially-prepared sriracha, a sauce made from sun-dried Sichuan peppers and garlic paste, contains as much as 4 1/4 g of sodium per 100-gram serving. Chinese garlic sauce recipes that include sriracha or other chili sauces use 2 tsp. for flavor. Preparing the Sichuan peppers and garlic in a food processor, using white wine instead of vinegar, allows you to eliminate nearly all the sodium from your sriracha.
Adding the garlic cloves and sriracha to the dish as late as possible preserves the heat-sensitive allicin content of the garlic paste, responsible for garlic's blood-thinning and antimicrobial effects. Garlic studies in humans show a possible link between garlic consumption and blood thinning, lower blood pressure and reduced LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels, but more studies to show the direct links and optimum doses have not yet been conducted.
Many Chinese garlic sauce recipes also contain ginger and scallions. Ginger aids digestion and prevents nausea, making it useful to pregnant women, people undergoing chemotherapy and people who suffer from motion sickness. Adding 1/2 cup of scallions to Chinese garlic sauce provides 36 mg of calcium, 138 mg potassium, 32 mcg of folate and 498 IU of vitamin A.