It’s impossible not to dedicate an article to the soy sauce, the queen of seasoning in Chinese kitchen and in the Asiatic one in general.

Because in Italy is that liquid in which you dip the sushi, or that bottle you buy once at the supermarket to do a recipe, and then you leave forgotten in the pantry for years, that ingredient that is bad for your health.

scaffale salsa di soia
Soy sauce shelf in the supermarket near home

When you enter in a chinese supermarket you understand what the soy sauce is, its importance: whole shelves, dozens of brands and variety, customers that are reading and comparing carefully the labels to choose properly.

The soy sauce was invented exactly in China and is a fermented sauce obtained by soy, toasted wheat or barly, water and salt.

It seems a simple ingredient but you don’t have to be mislead: each recipe has the right kind of sauce, like each Asiatic cuisine. You can use the Japanese sauce for a Chinese dish, but this brings with its different flavors, that don’t belong to that tradition. I have already a great collection, not to tell about oils and vinegars: the Chinese pantry is occupied by bottles and small jars. 

The soy sauce is surrounded by a negative reputation, labeled like damaging. But it’s rich in antioxidants and, in addition to flavor, helps the digestion. It’s true that is rich in sodium, but is enough to regulate its use, like we do with salt.

These are flavors and products to which our western palates are not used, the only way to perceive the differences and appreciate the quality is to taste and to try. Generally is used to season the dishes, to which add the umami taste, that identyfies the glutamate flavor, an aminoacid naturally present in many foods like meat, Parmesan and others cheeses.

But let’s explore the details and see the different kinds of soy sauce on the market.

Light or regular soy sauce. Is the more common kind, the one you can use when the recipe says only “soy sauce”. It pretty liquid and not too dark and it is the most used in the Chinese cuisine. Pay only attention that no brands call its sauce “light” unless it has a lower sodium content. If on the bottle you find “soy sauce” is the one you were looking for.

Dark soy sauce. It’s denser and less sapid that the regular sauce and its used, in small quantity, to give colour to the dishes. It is commonly used to marinate or in the stews.

Tamari soy sauce. Tamari is a peculiar kind of soy sauce, producted only with soy, without wheat, so it is gluten-free. It’s darker than regular soy sauce and has a peculiar taste, richer.

Flavored soy sauce. There are many flavored sauces, that you can use to give an extra oomph to a dish. These aren’t fundamental, you can do them at home by yourself, but sometimes is easier to keep them in the pantry. The most popular is the mushrooms soy sauce.

Low sodium soy sauce. It’s a sauce that dont’ differs in taste, but that contains about the half of sodium compared with the regulars.

The dark sauce and the regular one are enough to cover the most part of the recipes. The links lead to products that I used and prefer. Now you have just to get them, choose a recipe and prepare your palate!

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