Real soy sauce is prepared over a period of months by cooking, ageing, and processing, as opposed to the rapid, inexpensive soy sauce that can be produced using a chemical technique. A mash is created by cooking soybeans, wheat, and water together. They are then aged with a particular fungus called Aspergillus for a few days in order to grow koji mould.
Soy sauce comes in a wide variety of flavours, but the three most popular are light, dark, and thick soy sauce. The majority of Chinese and Taiwanese people cook with these. Tamari and Japanese soy sauce are comparable but distinct products. Soya beans, wheat, salt, and water are the four ingredients used to make soy sauce. Real soy sauce is prepared over a period of months by cooking, ageing, and processing, as opposed to the rapid, inexpensive soy sauce that can be produced using a chemical technique. A mash is created by cooking soybeans, wheat, and water together. They are then aged with a particular fungus called Aspergillus for a few days in order to grow koji mould. The final product, shoyu koji, is brined and matured for a number of months. When the shoyu koji has reached the correct age, it is pressed to create raw soy sauce. The raw soy sauce is finally heated in order to change its colour, flavour, and scent.
The following are some of the most common types of soy sauce on the market:
Dark Soy Sauce (Koikuchi Shoyu)
The most popular soy sauce in Japanese cooking is koikuchi shoyu, which is probably what comes to mind when you think of soy sauce. Despite not specifying a kind on the label, the majority of popular supermarket brands are koikuchi shoyu. It can be used in marinades, sauces, gravies, braising liquids, and stir-fries, making koikuchi shoyu a good all-purpose option. Koikuchi shoyu is most likely what is meant when soy sauce is required in a recipe but the type is not specified.
Light Soy Sauce
By default, when a Chinese recipe calls for soy sauce, it usually means light soy sauce unless specified otherwise. Even though there are light soy sauces in both Chinese and Japanese cuisines, the Chinese cooking tradition defaults to this type. Compared to dark soy sauce, Chinese light soy sauce has a thinner consistency and a saltier taste, with a lower sodium content and a less dominant soy flavour. While light soy sauce is occasionally used in Japanese recipes, it is not as prevalent as in Chinese cuisine.
Double-Fermented Soy Sauce
Double-fermented soy sauce is, as the name implies, fermented twice. While making regular soy sauce, the first liquid is fermented along with a salt brine; when making double-fermented soy sauce, the initial liquid is fermented along with additional soy and wheat.
As a result, the flavour is significantly more potent and umami-forward than in other soy sauces. Double-fermented soy sauce has a deeper flavour and is frequently used in stir-fries and dipping sauces because it may add a subtle background flavour to a dish without dominating it.
Thick Soy Sauce
Thick soy sauces, commonly referred to as soy paste or soy jam, are sweeter and thicker than black soy sauce. This is due to the addition of sugar, the requirement for additional wheat during the fermentation process, and the sporadic use of a thickening created from starch in its production. With a little garlic, fried rice dishes can simply gain flavour. If you can't get thick soy sauce in stores, it's really easy to make your own.
White Soy Sauce
Shiro, or white soy sauce, is brewed with more wheat, while tamari is produced with more soybeans. Its flavour and colour are lighter. In places where a darker sauce would dominate and stain the delicate slices of sashimi cut from mild, white-fleshed fish, this sauce is often used as a dipping sauce. When clarity is desired and a darker soy sauce would taint the colours, it is also used in dishes like soups.
Sweet Soy Sauce
The last type of soy sauce is sweet soy sauce, which almost stops being just soy sauce and starts to take on a life of its own.
Kecap Manis, a sweet sauce that is used in virtually every dish in Indonesian cuisine, is the most well-known sweet soy sauce. Sugar and additional flavours, such as anise, pepper, clove, cinnamon, and others, are used to flavour this sauce. The end product is a sauce that is thicker, stickier, and tastes nearly like molasses compared to other soy sauces. You might mistake it for oyster or hoisin sauce out of the corner of your eye.