Soy Many Sauces – Which to Choose?

Have you ever popped to the shops to grab a bottle of soy sauce to go with the stir-fry you are planning to cook that night - only to be confronted by a whole array of different soy sauces. There's light soy, dark soy, varieties confusingly spelled soya sauce or shoyu, not to mention naturally brewed soy sauce, Chinese, authentic Japanese, salt reduced – the list goes on.

So which to choose? The answer would be to take one of each home and conduct a taste test then pick your favourite. That's not really feasible for the average home cook but if you did, this is how it might be:

First - some background. There are two methods of producing soy sauce:

  • Fermented or brewed soy sauce is made by fermenting soybeans, wheat, water and salt. Nothing else. This is how Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce is made.
  • Partially Brewed Soy sauce – which is generally Chinese in origin. A limited brewing process for literally a matter of weeks combined with little or no wheat and yeast results in a finished product lacking any depth of flavour, aroma or colour. As a consequence artificial flavours, colours and preservatives are usually added. Here we would ask you to pour a small amount of Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce into a dipping dish or sauce to see, smell and taste the difference.

First using your eyes: Look at the rich colour, the clarity and shine of the liquid.

Then using your nose: A scientific analyst could identify over 300 aroma components including the delicate smell of rose, violet and vanilla; the robust smells of coffee and tea; a fruity citrus tang; combined with the distinctive smell of pineapple and banana. You might want to settle for "nice"!

Now using your mouth: Taste a teaspoon of Kikkoman and savour the flavour. Most people agree it is rich, mellow, deep and complex. If all this sounds like Oz Clarke describing a wine, that's not so ridiculous! The production of naturally brewed soy sauce can be compared to the making of a fine wine. The ingredients are allowed to ferment over several months – nothing can hurry the complicated brewing process which is carried out in strictly controlled temperatures.

Now we would ask you to compare Kikkoman with other brands. If you think they look muddy in comparison that's probably because caramel has been added. If you think the smell is too pungent that's probably because artificial additives have been used. As for the taste, we'll let you be the judge of that.

Finally, we would ask you to take a minute to study the labels of the bottles you have just tasted. It won't take you long to read the Kikkoman label - just four ingredients listed. The others might take you a little longer.

We believe Kikkoman is the best soy sauce you can buy. After your "tasting", we hope you agree.