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Pearl Bridge Soy Sauce


itch22
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For Chinese cooking, what are people's thoughts on the Pearl Bridge brand of soy sauce? All the Asian grocers in 100 km radius from where I live stalk only Pearl Bridge (light, dark, mushroom flavoured, and shrimp flavoured), and a HUGE variety of Kikkoman (which I use for Japanese cooking).

(I thought something like this may have been brought up already but I did a site search and didn't find an answer.)

-- Jason

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I think Pearl River Bridge is the most common mass market brand of Chinese soya sauce. I use their "gold label" superior and their dark. I dislike their mushroom.

I remember my mum using it maybe 25 years ago for a long time, but she later on switched to a locally made one (local to where she lives).

I've seen numerous "imitation" Pearl River Bridge sauces too, which are rather amusing. The labels on the imitation bottles are made up to look almost identical to the original, except for a small detail. It turns soy sauce shopping into a game of "spot the difference".

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I used to use Pearl River Bridge mushroom soya in the restaurant...purchase in big plaster pails. It was already in use when we took over the restaurant, and the customers didn't like it when I tried to change brands.

My Dad ( 35-40 years ago) used to buy soya sauce in wooden barrels. I don't know from what supplier, but they made great planters after they are emptied! I still have one somewhere between our 2 houses.

At present, I am using Rooster brand light soya for most of my cooking. I also have their superior dark soya, which I don't really care for. My kids loved Pearl River Bridge mushroom soya for fried rice.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Pearl River Bridge Mushroom Soy Sauce is the only dark type that I use. We have a long history together :smile: .

Back in my youth when I was a grill cook at a restaurant, sometimes the most junior member didn't get to eat with the boss and all the Chinese staff. My favourite quick meal was an inch thick pork chop, white rice with the aforementioned soy sauce, a few drops of sesame oil and a sliced ripe tomato. I still do that if when I have to eat alone.

Edited by Ben Hong (log)
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I'm also a PRB fan, but only of dark and light, not mushroom (very muddy). Barbara Tropp of China Moon fame was the person who first recommended this brand in her Modern Art of Chinese Cooking book.

I was going to comment on Barbara Tropp as well--I remember her making this recommendation as well.

Do you know a brand you like better for mushroom soy sauce?

I'm also intrigued by Laska's reference to "fake" Pearl River Bridge... do you remember how to tell the difference Laska?

Thanks!

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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My soy sauce history:

As a kid (aeons ago)-La Choy, or Chun King or whatever my mother bought was the soy sauce of choice, as it was the only thing in the store. (I can still taste it!)

Then along came Kikkoman and I was a convert.

But graduated to Koon Chun as they came in 'light' and 'dark' and I was living not far from NYC's Chinatown where it was available.

But Koon Chun had some import problems, so I looked around, read a little more on the subject and----

TADA! --- Pearl River Bridge! It only got better when they had the Gold Label grade, and FINALLY put the words "light' or 'dark' on their labels. Before that, I had to shake the bottle to see which was Soy Superior or Superior Soy! I also use Mushroom Soy when I want a little more depth to dark, otherwise I use the other two.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

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Pearl River Bridge is a slightly upscale brand in China. It's a trademark of the unromantically named state-owned "Guangdong Foodstuffs Import & Export (Group) Corporation", a who also supply much of the pork and veggies to Hong Kong.

Like most of the big soy sauce brands (Lee Kum Kee, Amoy), they now have a wide range of qualities. The best is their Gold Label Light Soy - 'light' being the most commonly used kind of soy sauce in Guangdong/Hong Kong. The Gold Label is supposed to be naturally fermented. They don't use genetically modified soy (neither do Lee Kum Kee or Amoy - GM soy is banned in China, and all these brands make in China).

There are out-and-out fake bottles of the stuff around, and some of the fakes surfaced in the UK in 2001, complete with cancer-causing ingedients. Best to buy from reliable stores. In HK the fakes usually show up at wet markets. I doubt it's a big problem in the US.

I used to use PRB, but switched to the last remaining small Hong Kong brand, who still brew all their own soy sauce locally and naturally. It's a great product but I don't think you can find it outside HK. They are Kowloon Soy Co. Ltd. at 9 Graham St, Central, HK.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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My wife has adopted Kimlan, especially for her "lao" soy sauce, and Kikkoman as her "light" soy sauce (probably because the big plastic jugs at Costco are so cheap). She doesn't seem to have much use for flavored (mushroom or other) soy sauces.

Pearl River Bridge is by far the most ubiquitous in Chinatown, but there are quite a few other options. For a while, Ju Ju was sending me out for an obscure brand that was only available at one shop that happened to be in the furthest reaches of Chinatown from us, but their supply fortunately dried up.

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In the mid-80's I was the only Caucasian living in an otherwise all-Chinese street in East Vancouver. After a month or two, I came to notice that they all, without exception, used PRB. So that's what I started buying, and I liked it a lot (still do). I've used their light and dark, and their newer "gold" line, and liked them all; haven't tried their mushroom soy.

Rooster brand is my fallback; for whatever reason it's easier to find here in Edmonton (or at least my part of Edmonton).

Never could adjust to Kikkoman. I guess my palate's attuned to the more robust flavour of the Chinese-style sauce.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Never could adjust to Kikkoman.  I guess my palate's attuned to the more robust flavour of the Chinese-style sauce.

My wife, being Shanghainese, puts most of her marbles on the "lao" soy sauce. Kikkoman is her PBR of soy sauces, if not her PRB. I think it also saves her money on salt.

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Most sophisticated Chinese cooks often mix dark and light soy depending upon what they're trying to do.

For light soy I prefer a Japanese soy such as Kikkoman which is an exellent all round product. However I do frequently work with some of the higher end Japanese soys. I particularly like the Kikkoman product that is labeled specially made for sushi - it's delicious.

Kikkoman produces something like 10 varieties. I also like a number of the other brand super hi end Japanese soys. Sorry most of them don't have English names. I just recognize their packaging. Worth exploring if this is an area of interest.

For dark soy I have never really liked Pearl River Brand's flavor. The mushroom soy always tastes a little off to me. It's color is great though. I prefer Amoy dark golden label. Been using it for years.

I also really like various thick soys. They can have a wonderful molasses flavor.

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Thanks for all the information. I like PRB's soy sauce for Chinese cooking, but just wanted to know if I was overlooking something better out their.

No one, however, has mentioned PRB's shrimp flavoured soy sauce. I have tried their light, dark, and mushroom flavoured ones but not this one. Has anyone tried it?

I will also have to keep an eye out for the "Gold Label" light soy sauce, as I have not seen it sold anywhere around here.

Does anyone know what differences to look for when trying to detect conterfeit soy sauce from the real deal? (Who'd of thought conterfeit soy sauce would be a big deal? Hmm... We should erect a foodie INTERPOL. :biggrin: )

-- Jason

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{{{{{{{batting head!}}}}}}}}

I forgot all about San-J Tamari!

When I want a low sodium soy, I go to Kikkoman --- but when I found San-J Tamari, I was impressed with the full flavor, and use it often. It is a 'naturally brewed' soy and uses no artificial stuff or MSG. It does use more soybeans, so that may explain the depth of flavor. It comes in regular tamari and reduced sodium.

Tamari is supposed to be wheatless, but that is rare. On the San-J bottle, 'wheat' is listed last.

I like it as a dip, or when I want a soy between 'light' or 'dark'.

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Amoy is also manufactured in Hong Kong.  Does the GM prohibition extend to HK?

GM is allowed in Hong Kong, but Amoy claims they don't use GM here either. Here's a list of brands that are GM-free in Hong Kong: http://www.greenpeace.org.hk/truefood/index1.html

Re detecting counterfeit PRB, for a while they had a hologram sticker on some bottles here in HK, not sure if that happened everywhere or if they're still doing it. Again, I would just stick to reliable retailers, this isn't a huge problem (and PRB soy isn't the only sauce being faked...).

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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Re detecting counterfeit PRB, for a while they had a hologram sticker on some bottles here in HK, not sure if that happened everywhere or if they're still doing it.

Actually, the entire label is holographically printed; just hold and tilt it against the overhead lights in the store. As of the beginning of this year, bottles sold in Houston, Texas featured these labels.

Pearl River Bridge isn't ubiquitous in China...it's not sold in Chengdu; the everyday brand with the most shelf space (mostly because of the option of giant plastic jugs) is Amoy. Lee Kum Kee is also available, but Sichuan being Sichuan, I think a lot of folks just reach for one of the many local labels....or at least I do.

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When I was at the grocery store on the weekend, I came across these soy sauces that are made out to look like Pearl River Bridge sauces from maybe 10 years ago. I apologize for the very poor quality pictures as they were taken with my mobile phone.

Years ago, PRB sauce bottles were taller than they are now, and had a long narrow neck that bulges a little. The fake sauces still use these kinds of bottles. This is the light soy made by Pearl Gold Bridge.

gallery_18308_248_1098120193.jpg

This is their dark soy. On the bottom right corner, you can see the entire bottle, which has a characteristic shape. Partly obscured in the bottom left corner is the new-style PRB bottle.

gallery_18308_248_1098120210.jpg

Here's another soy rip-off:

gallery_18308_248_1098120141.jpg

Nowadays, only an unobservant shopper would mistake the fake stuff for genuine PRB with its shiny, holographic labels. Maybe the fake stuff have acquired a following of their own?

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I'll have to check mine today and maybe post a picture of it. I do know the label is not holographic, but I'm in Canada not America. I also but my PRB by the canister not the bottle. At the amount of soy sauce I use in my house I'd need a several recycling boxes for bottles alone each week.

-- Jason

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