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Soy Sauce

I just got back from my local Asian market. The selection of soy sauce is always a little exciting and overwhelming. I bought some Wei-Chuan, china dark soy sauce. It is from Singapore. I have bought it before and had good results. I also bought some Nuoc Tuong which is from Taiwan but the name sounds Thai to me (but, what do I know). Anyway, any experience with Nuoc Tuong? Any thoughts on the virtues of different styles of Soy Sauce. Thanks

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  1. I always buy the Japanese brands like Kikkoman. My family's Chinese and my mom has a bias against soy sauce from China. She doesn't think the factory quality control is all there and worries about soy being watered down.

    1 Reply
    1. re: singleguychef

      That is good to know, I had been looking for other brands for two reasons. One, i just like to try different things. Second, becuase i just assumed that a widely available brand like Kikkoman would be "watered down" for american tastes. Thanks for your input!

    2. There is soy sauce you buy to cook with, then there is soy sauce you buy to use as dipping sauce.

      Whatever brand you decide on, splurge on the latter.

      1. I think Nuoc Tuong is Vietnamese for 'soy sauce' .

        There are tons of different types of soy sauce, from many different countries. Each one has it's use. I would say, as a rough guide, stick with a soy sauce brand which comes from the country which cuisine you're cooking. IE: Don't cook with Japanese soy sauce if you're making Chinese or Thai food.

        From there you can learn about the different types of soy sauce, dark, sweet, salty, thin, etc.

        Also, it goes rancid pretty quickly. Replace your bottle every 3 months or so if you don't use it often. If you swirl it around a bit in the bottle, and it leaves a sort of reddish-brown coloring on the glass, it's no good (it'll smell off too).

        I live in Thailand, and cook Thai food, so I buy Thai brands. I use Healthy Boy brand often. (yellow label with a fat kid) I also like the brand with the boat, and the one with the dragonfly on the label.

        For dark soy sauces, I use the steamboat brand. Sorry - I don't know the correct name in English, so I'm describing the logos. :)

        I've got a picture of the logos here:

        1 Reply
        1. re: cee

          What an informative site RealThaiRecipes is. Thank you for the link!

        2. Does all this advice and all these suggestions go for Tamari as well?

          1. I'm not a fan of Kikkoman. It is too salty. San-J makes a naturally brewed Tamari premium soy sauce that has more flavor. I also like the Kame dark soy when you need that punch.

            1. I have other questions on Soy Sauce.

              Sometimes I see 3 varieties of the Pearl Brand soy sauce with different labeling. Are there counterfeit soy sauces?

              Are all soy sauces made the same? I usually look for the ones that don't have chemicals in them or have no wheat (I'm not gluten allergic) but it's really hard for some reaason.

              Why can't I find Kikkoman light soy sauce at the supermarket? I want to stop stealing the bottles from the japanese restaurants.

              5 Replies
              1. re: marblebag

                Marblebag, I've found Kikkoman light soy at the Asian markets, even at my Safeway. But I do live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so maybe the markets can afford to provide more variety. I've even found Kikkoman specifically for sushi.

                1. re: singleguychef

                  I've never NOT found Kikkoman light at any Safeway, when I've looked, but that's just been in Western Canada and in Oregon. Rest assured SF is not special in this regard.

                2. re: marblebag

                  I've never seen a soy sauce without wheat, but I've heard that there are a small number available. If you google "soy sauce" and "celiac", you'll probably find some brand names.

                  1. re: vorpal

                    Wheat-free soy sauce is called "tamari".

                  2. re: marblebag

                    The brand you're referring to (Pearl River brand?) is one of my favorites. Three labels because there's light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and a dark mushroom soy sauce. The way my mom taught me is to cook with the light soy sauce for flavor (esp. if you don't want it incredibly salty), then adds a splash of the dark mushroom for color (so the sauce has a rich deep color). The mushroom soy doesn't have a ton of flavor.

                  3. Kikkoman is Japanese brewed soy sauce which I use mainly for teriyaki dishes and marinades. If you're in Hawaii, Aloha Shoyu is their local brand of soy sauce mostly used for their huli huli BBQ and dipping. For my Chinese cooking, I use the dark soy which has lots of thick molasses in it to give it a sweeter taste. Light soy is used sometimes for marinades and basic cooking. BTW, Kikkoman lite soy is just soy sauce with less sodium content to cut down on the saltiness.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Clinton

                      I like Aloha Shoyu. I can sometimes find them in Japantown in San Francisco.

                      1. re: singleguychef

                        Clinton, I dfon't think Kikkoman is brewed in Japan. It used to be, but all the bottles of it I have seen over the past few years were labelled as having been made in the U.S.A.

                        I myself like Superior, either regular or dark, made in China.

                        1. re: ekammin

                          Kikkoman must still be making soy sauce, and other sauces, in Japan. They have, though, had a USA factory for several decades at least (in Wisconsin, I believe). Their sauce in general US markets most likely is US made, but a large Asian chain (like 99 Ranch) should have some of their Japanese line.


                          1. re: paulj

                            Kikkoman has two production facilities in the U.S. The oldest is in Walworth, WI, while the second is in Folsom, CA.

                    2. I have a single simple rule ... never buy French's. It's fake soy sauce.

                      1. What cee said. The words "Nuoc Tong" are definitely not Thai, but Vietnamese.

                        Personally, I like to have three different soy sauces on hand: a light soy sauce, which I use for the majority of dishes; a dark soy sauce, which I use when the dish requires a darker, thicker, saltier taste; and kecap manis, for when my cooking needs its sweet thickness.

                        My favourite is Pearl River Bridge thus far, but everyone's tastes vary dramatically, and it also should really depend on what style of cooking you're planning. (I focus strongly on Thai, and dabble lightly in Chinese.) For example, Japanese soy sauces are often very good and I love them as a base for dipping sauce, but they should be avoided when it comes to Thai cookery.

                        My rule with soy sauces is to buy Asian products without added MSG (including hydrolyzed proteins and autolyzed yeast extract), colour, or preservatives. I've virtually never seen an Asian soy sauce with any of these: this seems to be a North American phenomenon, predominantly.

                        1. My family stays away from the Pearl River Bridge brand and other brands from China too. I mean both my family here and my parents back in Hong Kong. We don't trust their quality control and what type of additives they put in. And we have been avoiding stuff from China for a while, opting for brands made in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Japan instead (or at least made in China under a license). And that is way before they make headlines in the US. Not a blind bias... you would too if you can read the Chiense newspapers.

                          I usually get the ones made in Japan, found in oriental grocery store. I found that the Kikkoman's made in US contain preservatives, while the one made in Japan, as well as other brands made in Japan, do not contain preservative. Could it just be a labeling issue? At least for now I am paying more to get the pres-free Japanese version.

                          Similarly, for Maggi, we found products made in China as well as made in Switzerland or Germany.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: tarepanda

                            I don't know about Kikkoman, but Maggi definitely makes different formulations for different countries.

                            I'll take what you said to heart about Pearl River Bridge and I'm going to try to get my hands on a Thai soy sauce next visit to Chinatown.

                            1. re: vorpal

                              vorpal -
                              for the type of cooking you do, you should definitely try the thai brands. you might find you like the taste more too.

                              1. re: cee

                                I didn't realize there was a significant difference between Thai and Chinese soy sauces. (I feel a little silly about it, since I've been avidly cooking Thai food for ten years.) I'm really looking forward now, though, to seeing how it alters the taste! Thanks for the tip!

                            2. re: tarepanda

                              The Japanese soy sauces often have a bit of alcohol as a preservative. Most preservatives are, seriously, totally harmless, certainly the anti-fermentation sort they put in things like soy sauce (usually an infinitesmal amount of potassium sorbate or the like).

                              Personally, I don't much like tamari but maybe if I ate sushi/sashimi I'd use it for that. The wheat someone else mentioned is a normal/traditional ingredient, though not I think in traditional tamari which was originally a by-product of miso-making.

                              1. re: MikeG

                                "Most preservatives are, seriously, totally harmless"

                                I don't buy it. It may be true, but I'd rather err on the side of caution, and I've never found that soy sauces benefit much from preservatives. Indeed, one of the most common preservatives that was considered safe until recently, sodium benzoate, was recently shown to be potentially dangerous, serving possibly both as a carcinogen and as a contributing factor to ADHD.

                              2. re: tarepanda

                                We're a Chinese-American family from Hong Kong and have been using Pearl River bridge for years with no bad results. Recently we've been buying their Golden Label Soy Sauce.

                              3. Any thoughts about the Lee Kum Kee brand from China? 99Ranch has quite a few sauces from them, including a relatively expensive XO sauce.

                                I recently bought their Double deluxe soy sauce, which claims to use a traditional double fermenting method. Ingredient list is simple: water, salt, soybean, sugar, wheat flour. It seems to have a nice complexity in flavor. By comparison US Kikoman is sharper or saltier. Japanese made Trader Joe's is as mild the the LKK, but 'simpler'. I'm out of the Aloha, though my memory is that it is more dilute with a hint of saltiness.


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: paulj

                                  The Lee Kum Kee Premium Dark is now my favorite, with a more intense, "browner" soy flavor - the 1/2 used Kikkoman bottle just sits there.

                                2. The best soy sauce is the one from first fermentation, there is on from Hong Kong if you can find it, price more than double of the regulars

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: CLLLAL

                                    I have been wanting to try it... do you think it's worth the price.

                                    BTW I checked the Japanese brand I use, it's Wadakan and my hubby likes it better than Kikkoman. Awesome aroma.

                                  2. at one time soy sauce was made with minimal amounts of grain, the japanese type was more wheat based than the chinese. tamari used almost no grains at all, this has changed and now most soys contain wheat in varying quantities unless labeled otherwise. wikepedia has a fairly comprehensive breakdown of the chinese, japanese, taiwanese, vietnamese and korean types but does not specifically mention the thai.

                                    1. For cooking, I use the Pearl River brand (see my reply to Marblebag) and for dipping or sprinkling over rice, I love the Maggi brand. Rice, a sunny side up egg, and Maggi makes for a quick comfort meal.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: geekyfoodie

                                        Maggi isn't soy sauce, though, is it? I was under the impression that it was essentially just a bunch of different forms of MSG thrown together with a couple other flavourings.

                                        1. re: vorpal

                                          Truth be told, I honestly did not realize it isn't soy-based. The website says it's composed of vegetable proteins. I stand corrected.

                                          Still, though, when it comes to something to use plain over rice or for dipping, I prefer it over Kikkoman-esque soy sauce.

                                      2. Has anyone tried Trader Joe's soy sauce? Any thoughts?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: bards4

                                          I mentioned my impressions a few posts back - but I don't use soy sauce enough, especially alone, to be a good judge. To be specific, I have the 'reduced sodium', 'made in Japan' version.

                                        2. Agnostura makes an interesting soy sauce. Not too salty, good distinct flavor. I bought it out of curiosity.