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Jul 27, 2009 04:07 PM

Soy sauce vs. Tamari

I'm almost out of soy sauce and need to buy a new bottle but now I'm seeing Tamari everywhere. Can anybody explain the main diffence between the two as far as taste. Are the two interchangeable? Do any of you have a prefered brand of Tamari to suggest? I really don't use it very often. It's so salty, it seems to overpower everything else. I mostly just use it in the occasional sauce. Thanks

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  1. We use tamari in my house b/c my husband needs to eat gluten free--while soy sauce is made from wheat, tamari is wheat free. I think the flavor of tamari is a little more subtle, less salty. But they can definitely be used interchangeably in a recipe.

    1. Soy sauce is best for everyday cooking such as stir frying or seasoning vegetables, as it harmonizes and enhances without overpowering. Tamari, with its stronger flavor, is traditionally used to season longer cooking food such as soups, stews, and baked dishes.

      1. AFAIK, tamari was originally suppose to denote soy sauce that does not use wheat. Sadly, if you start to read labels, there are a few brands that use wheat, so what is the difference? It was also reputedly used to denote a higher grade of soy sauce. This also does not apply all the time. There are no legal definitions as to what can be labeled as tamari, so a manufacturer can use either term as he wishes, so the difference varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and it no longer has definite, across label meaning.
        As a practical matter, the 2 are interchangeable. If you are after quality, the price will tell you which is which.

        1. A company called San-J makes the wheat-free Tamari I use in my restaurant. Tamari (at least those I've tried) has a delightfully nutty character and complex flavor - two things that can't be said for run-of-the-mill soy sauce (or "Shoyu"). As said above, some labels of Tamari use wheat (San-J even makes one. They also make lo-sodium versions with and without wheat.)

          Good Tamari indeed has less of a salty thing going on than does regular soy.

          I was only 17 when I discovered Tamari. I was on Cape Cod and the evening's dinner was steamer clams, with local farm vegetables (zucchini, summer squash, onions, potatoes) which were also steamed briefly. Our host passed the Tamari and recommended its use on the veggies. It was a heavenly, simple meal.

          1 Reply
          1. re: shaogo

            shaogo, I use this same brand and love it. I think the difference in Japan related to processing, which is why soy sauce (shoyu) ended up having a sweeter flavor in many instances. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't tamari the original iteration of soy sauce in Japan? I think it has a richer, deeper flavor than your 'regular' soy sauce and is less salty, but I use them interchangeably. It's great for grilling and marinades.

          2. My understanding has always been that tamari is one type of soy sauce; it's not "soy sauce vs. tamari". Depending on the application, using a specific type may be more or less important.

            has some basic history and information on different styles of soy sauce.

            Of course, even within the same type of soy sauce, many different levels of quality (and price) exist.