Most people tend to associate soy sauce with the salty dark brown liquid that comes in packets with every Chinese take out. Just like balsamic vinegar, however, soy sauce ranges from authentic, top-grade varieties aged in seasoned wooden casks all the way down to quickly manufactured, chemically enhanced substances.
The traditional way to make soy sauce is by fermenting soybeans with or without grain (typically wheat) together with aspergillus mould, water and salt. Letting the mixture brew for months to develop the flavour and then pressing it so that the liquid extracted can be pasteurised to gain its traditional salty and sweet taste and dark colour.
There are two main types of soy sauce: light which is thinner, lighter coloured, less intense, but saltier thus more indicated for accenting the flavour of a dish such as fish without changing its colour, and dark soy sauce which is richer in flavour but generally not as salty. Dark soy sauce is the most common of the two.
Other types of soy sauce include:
Tamari which is made using a lesser quantity of wheat to no wheat and produces a darker and thicker sauce. Tamari is good for Sashimi, Teriyaki and Nimono Saishikomi.
Saishikomi is fermented twice and is a darker and thicker soy sauce good for Sashimi and Sushi.
Shiro is a lighter colour than light soy sauce. Unlike Tamari, Shiro uses a larger ratio of wheat to soybeans and requires more salt water than others. It is used for cooking white fish, vegetables and soup base for noodles.
Chinese black soy sauce is made by extended fermentation and the addition of molasses. The soy is also reduced to enrich the flavour. It is generally used for dipping sauces and makes a perfect combination with light soy for traditional "red-cooked" chicken.
Gen-en (low salt). After brewing, 30-50% of the salt is removed from the soy sauce to produce a low-salt version.
Unfortunately, most of the time we only get to taste the synthetic soy sauce. This is by no means the best quality soy sauce we may try, but at least it has the advantage of being completely alcohol free whereas naturally brewed soy sauces tend to contain small amounts of alcohol.
If that is not a problem for you, we strongly recommend asking for naturally brewed soy sauce whenever possible when placing a takeaway order on www.urbanbite.com