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The hero of Japanese cuisine: Soy Sauce

Soy sauce and soybeans

Types of soy sauce

Most are familiar with soy sauce. The indispensable, all-round seasoning for washoku (Japanese traditional cuisine), soy sauce comes in many different types—such as dark, light, almost colorless, and  faintly sweet. Koikuchi dark soy sauce is the standard type used in all parts of Japan, but its flavour and aroma vary from region to region. Usukuchi light-colored soy sauce is popular in Kyoto and its surrounding areas. Colourless “white” soy sauce is used in Nagoya and its environs, and sweet-flavoured soy sauce is characteristic of cooking in Kyushu.  

White soy sauce

How to use soy sauce

Tofu with soy sauce

Dark-coloured soy sauce is essential in Japan as a dipping sauce for universal favourites such as nigiri-zushi and sashimi. This full-bodied sauce with concentrated umami and a subtle bean aroma is said to help soothe the nerves. Dark soy sauce is an excellent marinade for fish and meat recipes, and its light hint of vanilla (on the nose) makes it a fine match for fruity compotes, sauces or dishes with berries. Added to stewed fish, dark soy sauce ameliorates the smell and ups the umami factor. As the intense colour of koikuchi soy sauce can dull the vivid brightness of vegetables, for some dishes light usukuchi or colorless “white” soy sauce is combined with an umami-rich dashi instead. Soy sauce is also used to flavour takikomi gohan meals of rice steamed together with other ingredients. When added to fried rice or pilaf, soy sauce imparts an appetizing roasted aroma. A must seasoning for aemono cooked salads, soy sauce is also easily combined with all types of oil.


Sushi with soy dipping sauce

Have you used soy sauce before in your cooking? Or have you tried it with something like sushi? We fully recommend doing so if you haven’t already!


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