Soy sauce is one of the oldest condiments known to the culinary world with the first records of its use dating back to 200bc. Soy sauce originates from Asia, with different countries having their own variations and names. In Japan it is know as shoyu, Korea Ganjang and in Indonesia it is Ketjap manis. Each of these sauces has a different flavour, consistency and saltiness.
Traditionally, soy sauce is made from fermented soya beans, wheat, salt and water. The mixture is fermented for anything from 6 months to 3 years and the liquid is then pressed, resulting in soy sauce which is then pasteurised.
Light soy sauce is the most used and is saltier and lighter in colour than its darker counterparts. It is normally used for cooking with fish or chicken or in a dipping sauce.
Dark soy sauce has been aged for longer and has a much more intense flavour. It is good for use in marinades and for cooking with dark meat.
Tamari is a special kind of Japanese soy sauce which is made without the addition of wheat and therefore is good for use in gluten-free cooking.
Shiro, in contrast, is made with more wheat than soya beans and is less widely available (look in Japanese supermarkets or online). Described as ‘white’ soy sauce, it is much more delicate and most commonly used as a dipping sauce for sushi.
Soy sauce can be used in place of salt in many recipes. It can be used to add seasoning and flavour to stir fries, marinades and dipping sauces and to add colour and depth of flavour to stocks and sauces.
For a tasty fish recipe, try Andy Waters’ Baked soy salmon with enoki mushrooms, lemon soy vinaigrette and ginger jam or, if you fancy something meaty, have a go at Paul Heathcote’s Rib-eye of beef with soy and spice.
Phil Fanning showcases the use of soy sauce in Japanese cuisine with his Hamachi with red dulse, olive oil and soy recipe while Matt Gillan goes down the dessert route with Tonka bean pannacotta with popcorn crumble and soy sauce gel.
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