Soy Sauce: What To Avoid What To Buy
Soy sauce is a dark, rich, complex flavorful condiment that is good to just drizzle over rice or to add to a variety of dishes-that is, if you have the right soy sauce.
Like mentioned in my post Japanese Style Avocado, my husband is half Japanese. I was a little concerned over our different food likes and dislikes because you see, I didnt like soy sauce before we were married. How could we coexist when one loved and one hated soy sauce? I was going to want bread and butter, he, rice and soy sauce!
My husband to be soon found the problem. My family was buying these huge half gallon containers of cheap soy sauce from Costco, and then most of it was going rancid before we could go through it . No wonder we thought the stuff was awful! It was!
After we got married, we made to sure to buy naturally fermented soy sauce. WOW! What a difference! Most soy sauces are no longer made with a natural fermentation process, but are in fact chemically made. Look for soy sauces that are naturally fermented, sometimes they will even say something like aged on the bottle.
Our favorite soy sauce?
This soy sauce is made in Japan with the traditional fermentation process, aged in cedar wood kegs in small batches. Its also unpasteurized meaning that all of those lovely enzymes and beneficial bacteria are still alive.
All to say, dont settle for cheap soy sauce. Its nasty stuff.
Best Dark Soy: Lee Kum Kee Dark Soy Sauce
Dark soy sauce is intense in both color and flavorthink of the difference between white and brown sugarso you wont need as much of this soy sauce to get the flavor youre looking for. It’s also slightly thicker than your typical soy sauce, so it clings to food a little better, making it perfect as a drizzle over vegetables or as an ingredient in a dipping sauce. This one comes in a 16.9-ounce bottle, so youll have plenty to use for all your favorite recipes.
Shota Nakajima Chef And Owner Of Adana In Seattle
Before opening his own restaurant, Shota Nakajima cut his teeth working at various Michelin-starred restaurants in Japan, and he picked up a lot of his soy sauce intel there. I’ve tried making soy sauce I’ve tried making miso. It’s pretty good, but I can’t make it as well as the people who have been making it for thousands of years, he says. Like many of the chefs he studied under, Nakajima uses soy sauces produced by Kikkoman.
He recommends seeking out soy sauce thats packaged in a squeeze bottle, which helps to protect the contents from oxidation. Many people dont realize how quickly soy sauce can oxidize, he says: You cant let soy sauce hit the air. If you go to the store and get two bottles of soy sauce, and open one and close it, and leave them in the fridge for like a week, the color and flavor will be different if you taste them side by side, he says. Its still usable, but the flavor changes very quickly. Some chefs he trained with would only serve soy sauce within the first few days that it was open anything older was jettisoned into pickling liquid.
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No Mirin Cooking Sake Dashi Where Are All The Japanese Ingredients
Theyre not on my essentials list because Japanese food is my mothers domain literally! Heres her Japanese food website RecipeTin Japan the home of authentic Japanese recipes.
These are my next priority items, things that make me feel insecure if Im out or running low. Mostly sold at everyday large grocery stores, but some of these items are MUCH cheaper at Asian stores, so I always stock up!
Chinese Chilli Paste Fuyun brand, my favourite! Only at Asian stores.
Rice vinegar Mizkan, Marukan or Kikkoman are my usual , but Ive never had a bad one .
Mirin the Japanese equivalent of Chinese cooking wine! Even just 1 teaspoon adds complexity and depth of dressings and sauces.
Fish sauce Squid Brand
Panko breadcrumbs cheaper!
Crispy fried shallots almost half the price at Asian stores, any brand.
Chinese five spice any brand
Maesri brand curry pastes red, green and massaman. For Asian Curry fans.
Fresh and dried noodleseverything and anything!
Varieties Of Soy Sauce
Once upon a time, way back in the 20th century, selecting soy sauce at a local grocery store was a simple process. The prevailing variety was what we now know as koikuchi. The choice boiled down to a few brands, not flavors. Peruse the Asian foods aisle at a mainstream supermarket today and the options are seemingly endless. Serious Eats breaks it down. In addition to Japanese-style all-purpose koikuchi, you’ll likely find lighter, richer, and slightly sweet usukuchi. Koikuchi and usukuchi are interchangeable in most recipes, but taste test to be sure you’re not overdoing it with the richer blend. Tamari, made without wheat, is the best choice for gluten-free diets. Shiro, also known as white soy sauce, is blended with a higher percentage of wheat resulting in a lighter color and flavor.
According to The Woks of Life, Chinese soy sauce is saltier than its Japanese counterpart. Available in both light and dark blends, Sous Chef describes the light version as strong and pungent with notes of beans, while the dark blend is intense with a forward sour bitterness and strong umami flavor. Top brands of Chinese soy sauce include Koon Chun, Pearl River Bridge, and Lee Kum Lee .
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How Is It Used
Soy sauce is probably the most important condiment across Asia. It acts as a seasoning, as well as a color enhancer, darkening the color of dishes to a rich amber. Youll use it in stir-fries, sauces, soups, braises, fillings, noodle dishes, dumplings, and more.
Different types have different uses . In general, however, when cooking a particular dish from a particular Asian cooking tradition , always use the proper types of soyin this case, Chinese light soy sauce and dark soy sauce.
We dont mean to be snobby, but using Japanese soy in a Chinese dish or Chinese soy in a Japanese dish will yield different flavors!
Kikkoman is a great brand, and well use it when cooking Japanese dishes or enjoying sushi, but well rarely use it for Chinese cooking.
That said, if you enjoy the flavor of a particular type or brand over another, you can use whatever floats your boat. Thats the beauty of home-cookingyoure the boss!
What To Buy At An Asian Market
What to buy at the Asian market! Here is a simple PRINTABLE list, to help you build your Asian pantry, organized by sections! Simple and easy- just print the list out and take it with you!
Food is the ingredient that binds us together. Unknown
Wondering what to buy at your local Asian Market? Here is a list of my favorite go-to ingredients that I always take this list with me when I go that way I dont forget because its very easy to get distracted!
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Lee Kum Kee Premium Dark
Moving inland from the islands of Japan to China, we have this delicious soy sauce from Lee Kum Kee.
If youre not interested in springing for the gourmet bottle, this is an excellent alternative with a friendlier price tag.
The manufacturer doesnt provide many details about their product, stating simply that they have used selected soybeans in their brew and that they have adhered to traditional methods in order to make it.
This is excellent for cooking or for adding a little flavor to your rice, salads or anything other bland dish that needs a little zap of flavor.
The difference between Lee Kum Kee and Kikkoman is night and day. We would choose this any day over Kikkoman!
Sohui Kim Chef And Owner Of Insa In Brooklyn Ny
Chef Sohui Kim emphasizes that you should always look at the ingredient list before buying any soy sauce: I grew up eating a lot of Korean food, so I grew up with the real stuff, but if something is made with a commercially produced, non-brewed soy sauce, you can tell the difference. Soy sauces that arent brewed or naturally fermented often contain added sweeteners, artificial colors, and flavors as well as preservatives to keep them shelf stable. The resulting product tastes quite different from the real thing Kim describes these as having an aftertaste that is bitter and not very smooth, or is sometimes too sweet.
At her Brooklyn restaurant, Insa, Kim uses Korean soy sauce, or ganjang, which she calls a foundational sort of mother sauce in Korean cooking. Its used both as a seasoning during cooking and as a tableside dipping sauce for dumplings and scallion pancakes. Traditional ganjang is a byproduct from producing doenjang, a fermented soy paste, meaning that its brewed differently than koji-inoculated soy sauces of Japan. Sohui uses the Sempio brand, which she describes as having a deep soy flavor that tastes clean and not-messed-with. There are several varieties of Sempio soy sauce, many of which can be found in Korean grocery stores like H-Mart the one Kim uses is the bottle bearing the naturally brewed label, which you can find here.
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Other Popular Soy Sauces
While many Asian countries have their own soy sauce styles and variants, another relatively commonly found style in the U.S. is Indonesian Kecap manis. It’s a sweet soy sauce native to Indonesia made with fermented soy beans and flavored with palm sugar, star anise, galangal and other aromatics. It’s widely used in many Indonesian dishes and is the primary flavoring in bami goreng, a popular stir-fried noodle dish. Kecap manis derives its name from the same Malay fish sauce that our tomato-based ketchup is distantly related to.
Everything You Need To Know About Soy Sauce
When it comes to America’s favorite condiments, soy sauce ranks right up there with everyday picnic-table favorites. A reader survey conducted by The Daily Meal lists soy sauce as America’s fourth-favorite condiment after mayonnaise , mustard , and ketchup . Cast the net a bit wider and soy sauce still makes an impressive showing, ranking No. 8 on HuffPost‘s list of the world’s 25 best condiments.
Science Meets Food traces the origins of soy sauce to fifth-century B.C. China where it was developed as an alternative to more expensive salt. The process of making soy sauce was an arduous task. According to the SoyInfo Center, original incarnations involved mixing cooked soybeans with wheat flour and salt water, then letting the mixture ferment in clay pots for three to six months. When it was deemed ready, liquid was separated from the fermented mash and set out to age for another month or two. The process was repeated up to four times resulting in various grades of the final product. By the third century B.C., Buddhist monks were using the fermented sauce as the primary seasoning in their vegetarian diets. Eventually, according to Science Meets Food, Japanese Buddhist monks who had been studying in China returned home with the condiment where its variant, shoyu, emerged. Production tweaks continued, culminating in the third century with a recipe widely believed to be the basis of the Japanese soy sauces prevalent worldwide today.
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Light Soy Sauce Substitutes
There are many reasons why someone doesnt want to or cannot eat light soy sauce . Here are my favorite substitutes for light soy sauce that work for most recipes:
- Worcestershire sauce
- Tamari sauce: A gluten-free alternative to soy sauce
- Hoisin sauce: You may have to thin it out with some water. Its quite sweet, which makes it more like dark soy sauce than light.
- Teriyaki sauce: Teriyaki sauce is another option that offers a sweet and savory flavor. It often has soy sauce in it.
- Oyster sauce: Thin it with a bit of water. Its not vegetarian.
- Fish sauce: A good replacement for the umami of soy sauce if you like the pungent flavor of fish sauce.
TIP: Ultimately, if you need to replace light soy sauce, youre looking for ingredients that add salt and umami. This means you could get creative by substituting ingredients that dont resemble soy sauce at all, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Marmite.
Bottle Size And Storage
Soy sauce will last a long time unopened. The best-by date on the bottle should be a good year to two years out. But oxygen is its enemy, so you’re better off choosing a smaller bottle over the giant tin, Young said.
And once opened, keep it in a cool, dry place. It’s not necessary to refrigerate soy sauce, but doing so will extend its flavor and freshness, Roberts said.
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Is Soy Sauce A Healthy Choice
Guidelines from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. According to VeryWellFit, a tablespoon of soy sauce contains 879 mg of sodium. Do the math: One tablespoon of soy sauce eats up more than one-third the daily recommended maximum of sodium. Here’s a jaw-dropper. Consuming too much soy sauce can be deadly. In 2011, a Virginia student downed a quart of soy sauce on dare and barely survived. As reported by NPR, the 19-year-old male’s blood sodium was the highest ever recorded in an adult who survived without long-term neurological damage.
But that’s extreme. Most of us wouldn’t dream of ingesting more than a few drops at a time. For comparison, an average take-out packet contains about 2 teaspoons . Even in moderation, though, the high levels of sodium contained in soy sauce can adversely affect your health. Doctor NDTV lists increased risk of breast cancer related to the isoflavones in soy, thyroid issues due to goitrogens in fermented soy sauce, and risk of cardiovascular disease among the potential problems associated with consuming soy sauce. Low-sodium soy sauce is a readily available option. Kikkoman’s version contains 40 percent less salt than its regular soy sauce.
Kevala Organic Coconut Aminos
Kevala Organic Coconut Aminos
This condiment, like the Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos, is prepared without soy and is a healthier alternative for a household essential. This condiment also offers a good combination of savory sweetness savory flavor and salty rich mouthfeel.
Consumers had, nevertheless, noticed mold in their goods in the past couple of years. This is due to the fact that the ketchup was cultured hot, unprocessed, and uncooked.
- Devoid of soy and gluten
- Completely natural
- To prevent mold, it must be utilized promptly.
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The Best Soy Sauce Reviews
The world of condiments is large, but soy sauce stands out due to its distinct taste and culturally-rich history. This dark, often-salty sauce has a comprehensive and distinct variety of types and flavors. The best soy sauce can enhance many different dishes. If youre not a fan of soy sauce already, you likely will be soon.
Are you interested in soy sauce but not sure where to start? Weve rounded up the best soy sauce brands worldwide, including both China and Japan. Our buyers guide will also answer all your questions about what soy sauce is and what types to use with various foods.
- Not authentic soy sauce
Pour Thing: What Different Soy Sauces Are Used For And Which To Buy
If youve ever cooked Asian food and had the result go horribly wrong, you can probably blame your choice of soy sauce. But a little knowledge goes a long way
During the Han dynasty, more than 2,000 years ago, there was a great division: what had been a singular fermented condiment made of fish and soy, used to stretch out that precious commodity salt, became two.
One emerged as fish sauce and the other, soy sauce. From there they diverged dramatically according to culture, religion, demography and geography. The Buddhists, with their vegetarian practice, took soy sauce to East Asia. The Chinese merchants, who went on to sell their wares in the south, took both fish sauce and soy sauce with them because they could, and so they did.
This is a simplistic explanation of how south-east Asian cuisine tended to be dominated by the use of fish sauce, and soy sauce became more commonly used in naturalised versions of Chinese-influenced dishes, such as five-spice stewed pork, known variously as adobo, pah lo, tau yew bak, babi kecap and tht kho tàu.
In the east, soy sauce became another thing entirely. The production of soy-based products are unique to each geographical location like miso in Japan and doenjang in Korea.
Whether you call it shyu or sii ew or just old faithful soy sauce, we are referring to a condiment thats soybean-based. And that is where the similarity ends.
All right, lets break it down a bit.
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Psa: Beware Of The Mushroom Dark Soy Sauce
We accidentally purchased a mushroom dark soy sauce once because the regular premium dark soy sauce from Lee Kum Kee was sold out. Alex ended up tossing the bottle once he discovered it tasted bitter and like chemicals.
Be careful when you see mushroom dark soy sauce or seafood dark soy sauce. Unless you know for certain you are looking for mushroom dark soy sauce, stick to the regular version.
Which soy sauce is your favorite? Are you a dark soy sauce lover ? Or do you prefer light soy sauce?