January 23, 2018

12 Different Soya Sauces and How To Use Them

Soya sauce. I had always been familiar with two: Chinese light soya sauce and Chinese dark soya sauce. Occasionally at dim sum, or eating at a Chinese restaurant, I would get to eat a delicious sweet soya sauce, usually added to roast meats and cheung fun (steamed rice rolls). I remember my dad explaining to me as a child, that it was made by cooking dark soya with water and adding sugar.

In recent years, I have learnt to cook lots of different types of cuisines, leading me to discover a whole load of different soya sauces. I sometimes get puzzled looks when I share recipes involving different soya sauce, as I might state light/dark soya or bonito soya or kecap manis. My friends and colleagues also didn't quite believe me when I said I probably had at least 7-8 different types of soya sauces at home, so I thought I'd share the types of soya sauce I do have. Turns out I have 12! There may be more soya sauces out there that I don't know of, so do enlighten me if I haven't listed it here.

1. Light Soya Sauce
Probably the most popular one, and generally known as “soya sauce”. In Western supermarkets such as Tesco’s and Sainbury’s, this is one you can definitely pick up. It can be used in cooking, marinade, dipping and has a salty taste - a great all rounder.

2. Dark Soya Sauce 
Also easy to pick up from a Western supermarket. Is very dark in colour and used mainly to colour foods, such as giving fried noodles or fried rice that golden hue. Slightly salty but predominately sweet. Do not get this mixed up with light as the flavour is very different.

3. Knorr Liquid Seasoning
This is an amazing soya sauce that taste like it’s been infused with seafood stock and a bit of good old msg. It’s a truly unique flavour that I can’t quite explain. Use this in congee (Chinese savoury rice porride) and I bet you that you’ll not go back to regular soya. Unfortunately, you can’t buy this in the UK, I stock up when I go to Hong Kong.


4. Maggi Liquid Seasoning
This is the alternative to Knorr as you can buy this one in UK. It has a heavier taste than Knorr, and is good for stir fries too.

5. Tow Chow/Premier Soya Sauce
A premium Chinese soya sauce using the best soya beans and a longer fermentation process resulting in a deeper flavour. Use the same way as no.2

6. Claypot Rice Soya Sauce
A sweet and savoury soya sauce used for making claypot rice. Easy to make this yourself by mixing light and dark soya together along with sugar if you can’t find this in the shops, but I do love this as it is.

7. Steamed Fish Soya Sauce
A sweetish, light coloured soya used for steaming fish or any other steamed dish. It has a light and savour note to it and can be used more liberally than the regular light soya sauce.

8. Tamari
Japanese soya sauce that is savoury with a slight sweet aftertaste. The colour is darker than light soya sauce, but not as strong as dark soya sauce.

9. Bonito Soya Sauce for Soup
A soya sauce made with bonito and kelp extract. Dilute with water to make a soup base for udon/soba, or use as it as a marinade and in cooking. I can't live without this stuff and you will see plenty of my Japanese recipes using this.

10. Japanese Soya Sauce
This is the Japanese version of Chinese light soya sauce. It has a darker colour, is salty and has a slight seafood/fish flavour. Perfect for sushi.

11. Korean Soya Sauce for Soup
Used for Korean soups and stir fries. Lightly coloured and has a salty taste like light soya but also with a hint of seafood/fish. It lacks in depth of flavour but is good when this flavour isn't needed such as in soup.

12. Kecap Manis
Similar in taste to dark soya sauce, but sweeter and thicker in texture. Used mainly in Indonesion, Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine for fried rice, noodles, or as a dipping sauce for plain steamed/boiled chicken.


So here is my huge collection of soya sauces at home. I'll be listing them in recipes as I use them and I hope you guys found this post helpful. Do list any questions you may have in the comments below.


This is an old archive post which I have rebooted

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Maira Gall