Japanese vs. Chinese Soy Sauces

We all know there's a lot of soy sauces out there (although there's only one Kikkoman!) but the big difference in soy sauces – and the one celebrity chefs and food writers are always at pains to point out – is between Chinese and Japanese-style sauces.

Chinese soy sauces are available in both light and dark versions. Some are chemically produced and others are only partially brewed. However, any brewing is usually only for a matter of weeks without yeast, unlike Japanese soy sauces, which are brewed with specially cultured yeast for many months. Caramel colouring (E150) is often added to Chinese soy to create its trademark powerful, dark appearance. Many also contain added sugar, monosodium glutamate and preservatives, which may give an artificial taste.

Japanese soy sauce, sometimes referred to as 'shoyu' generally has a lower salt content and includes roasted wheat in the recipe. This not only improves the flavour and aroma, but also the colour of the sauce. Our advice is to always look at the label before buying. The fewer ingredients, the better!