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Soy sauce


Fat Guy
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There seem to be several hundred varieties of soy sauce available out there. I have some basic idea of the differences but does anybody have the capacity to instruct us fully?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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well, all i know is what i learned from bruce cost.  and, yet again, forgive for the tone.

 There are two basic kinds of chinese soy.  Soy superior sauce is thick soy with molasis, often called dark soy, used when braising meat in the "red" style.  Superior soy sauce is a lighter, saltier and thinner sauce which is more often used in dips and stir fries.

Tasting soy superior on it's own is awfull.  It's transformed in a recipe.  

The japanese also have a light soy (called usukechi - Bon can correct my on my romanization), and a dark: the standard kikkoman variety.

There are also soy's with combined flavourings.  Mushrooms in chinese and south east asian cuisine is common (i've never tried it, just seen it in books.  In japan there's ponzu which you can bottled, as well as umeboshi flavored etc.

Okay there's more but i'm going to lunch.

sorry if i'm telling everyone something they already know.

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Shoyu is the Japanese word for soy sauce. There's a huge variation in the quality available. I use a mass-produced one like kikkoman for stir-frying, but only the small bottles of unpasteurized/aged/small lot are good enough to serve at the table or with sushi. I buy them at the natural food store, but they might be available at at better Japanese grocer in your area.

Tamari is special type of Japanese soy sauce, which doesn't have as much flavor.

Read the labels on the soy sauce bottles.

Tasting notes:

Ohsawa Nama Shoyu; Ingredients: organically grown whole soybeans, water, organically grown whole wheat, sea salt, and aspergillus oryzae (koji). Flavor: rich, full-bodied.

San-j Tamari Premium soy sauce; Ingredients: Water, soybeans, salt, alcohol (to preserve freshness), wheat. Flavor: mild and delicate.

Golden Mountain Soya Bean Sauce (recommended by the guy at the Vietnamese market); Ingredients: Soya bean meal 46.5%, Water 30.48%, Salt 18%, Sugar 5%, Add Food enhancer 0.02% (Disodium inosinate and Disodium-guanylate) No preservative.

Flavor: Sweet, tastes like cheap imitation chicken soup. Little soy flavor.

Taste a few types side by side and you'll understand.

Also, keep in mind that "reduced salt" types are also "reduced flavor", so there is no advantage to buying them over using less of a regular type.

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I'm far from a soy sauce expert, but I will venture a recommendation.  The best brand I've found of what is usually referred to as "light soy sauce"--that is, Kikkoman-style without molasses--is Dragonfly, from Thailand.  It's not easy to find, but I'm sure it's widely available in New York's Chinatown, at the very least.  It has no particular standout quality, but it's round and not overly salty.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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One of my peeves, is that many recipes listed in cookbooks, don't specify what specific soy sauce should be used. In chinese soy, light soy sauce & dark soy sauce are totally different. I always prefer light soy sauce. Rarely ever used dark soy sauce. However many restaurants only have dark soy sauce readily available to customers. A customer has to request light soy sauce.

 

Steve

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It is important to choose a soy sauce appropriate to the dish being made.  There is no single "best" soy sauce.

Take for example "Golden Mountain" mentioned by Katherine.  I can't imagine using it in Chinese or Japanese cooking; on the other hand, it works very well in Thai and Vietnamese dishes.

In Japanese supply stores, there are special soy sauces for use with sushi.  Kikkomon makes one, but there are even better brands (I have some in my NYC house, but unfortunately for this thread, I am still on Cape Cod, so I cannot give you a brand name).

Pat G.

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  • 2 months later...

Just a quick pump for Chinese mushroom soy sauce.

It's a fairly thick, very dark, salty shoyu with mushroom extract (reduced mushroom soaking liquor). Excellent for marinades. A few drops in a mushroom soup can really make a difference.

I have prawns marinating in it (with Thai bird chiles, mirin, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, kefir lime leaves) right now. They'll be lovely with scallion pancakes and grilled Shanghai bok choy.

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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  • 1 year later...

I have to admit I've a novice to buying soy sauces, but the subject has intrigued me of late.

So in my most recent attempts at shopping for Soy Sauce, I've been looking for

1) Soy sauce without wheat or Alcohol

2) "whole bean" soy sauces

3) Organic soy sauces

This has required looking very closely at the list of ingredients.

So far, I have found that Japanese soy sauces vary tremendously in quality, even among the same manufacturer, so you have to examine those labels closely. Korean soy sauces for the most part do not use alcohol, and have more all-bean wheat-free sauces that are considerably cheaper than their Japanese counterparts. I also like to stay away from those which have salt added as an ingredient.

For the most part, I like dark soy. The darkest you can find.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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For the dark soy I always prefer the mushroom soy from Hai Tian (more easily remembered by its old name "Pearl River" which I believe was the same name translated into English) For the light I like the Japanese Yamasa brand and use both the regular and the "less salt". Light and dark soy are not, in my view, interchangeable as the dark has a deeper flavor which can overwhelm many dishes.

Ruth Friedman

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I am a Kikkoman girl, for most cooking needs I stick with the 1.8L "special marudaizu" type.

I have other various types (not available outside Japan) for other uses.

I never but soy with alcohol added, I think it gives it a very synthetic flavor.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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As with olive oil, you don't need great soy sauce for everything. Kikkoman is a very good product for cooking, in my opinion, especially when the soy flavor is just one component of a full-flavored dish. But if you want the soy sauce equivalent of extra-virgin first-cold-pressing single-estate Tuscan olive oil you'll want to order some Ohara Hisakichi Shouten soy sauce from Japan via gratefulpalate.com.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The best readily available soy sauce I have found is San-J. From Japan, no wheat, no alcohol, and a strong, good soy flavor. I suppose there are designer ones on the web or in Chinatown, but this one is available at many specialty stores and is very good.

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As with olive oil, you don't need great soy sauce for everything. Kikkoman is a very good product for cooking, in my opinion, especially when the soy flavor is just one component of a full-flavored dish. But if you want the soy sauce equivalent of extra-virgin first-cold-pressing single-estate Tuscan olive oil you'll want to order some Ohara Hisakichi Shouten soy sauce from Japan via gratefulpalate.com.

I think I might go into the soy sauce import business! :biggrin:

I found the Ohara hisakichi shouten Japanese homepage:

http://village.infoweb.ne.jp/~fwjf1151/SEIHINN.html

the 900ml bottle being sold in the US for a price of $29.95 costs only $8.33 (1,000 yen) in Japan.

It does have a lot of recommendations based on a quick search I did and it seems to be prettty widely available in Japan (department store basements and larger supermarkets), I am going to give it a try.

Thanks! :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I'm still a novice as far as Asian coooking goes. But I'm learning.

Kikkoman Imported Shoyu.

Kikkoman Usukuchi.

Some Korean Shoyu that has absolutely nothing I can understand anywhere on the label.

PJ

"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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I do think the imported Kikkoman tastes slightly better (more concentrated is how I'd describe it) than the Kikkoman made in the USA. But I'm also not saying Kikkoman is bad. It's a good product. It just doesn't have the kind of subtlety or nuance that a real premium product would have. But it's definitely better on the soy sauce spectrum than something like Bertolli is on the olive oil spectrum. Hey, Gary Danko uses it.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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FG:

More concentrated is a good description I'd agree with.

As for olive oil I prefer cheap Spanish first cold press.

PJ

"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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It's sort of like the various grades of maple syrup and many other products. The lower grades can actually have more flavor, if you view flavor like you'd view the volume dial on a stereo. But if you're talking about compexity, subtlety, and nuance, the higher grades have it all over the lower ones. The big mistake people make is assuming that any one grade is right for everything. It isn't. There are plenty of situations where you want the lower grade of a product. Like with olive oil, you don't want to cook with the really good unfiltered stuff. All those little floating bits of olive goodness turn into floating bits of burnt olive nastiness if you use that stuff as a cooking oil.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I am fairly new to the white soy sauce, and shiro dashi (no real clue how to spell it, since the bottle was not written in english). I found this product outstanding. I believe it is fermented 80% wheat and 20% soy, which is the opposite of regular soy sauce. Real interesting flavor. Sometimes I don't always like regular soy, as they can be to pungent for me.

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I haven't found a great variety of soy sauce here in Ontario. V-H, Kikkoman. The problem is, even the "light" brands of those are pretty salty. I'd like to find one here that is low in salt.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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