It is well known that sauces and herbs can truly help any meal. A sauce that is widely used all around the world is soy sauce. Soy sauce is available in various flavors, and is used not only in Chinese cuisine, but in every day fare as well.
Soy sauce indeed has a very interesting background. Soy sauce has its main origins from China, although today soy sauce is produced all around the world. It is to the surprise of many people that soy sauce is in fact fermented sauce, created from the fermentation of soybeans, as well as other products, including water and salt. It should be noted, however, that it is only authentic, and often the higher priced brands of soy sauce that is created from fermented soybeans. There are many wonderful soy sauce companies, such as Kikkoman that produces a fine quality of soy sauce. Kikkoman prides itself with mass producing soy sauce thru a natural fermentation process.
It is to the surprise of many individuals that soy sauce actually varies from country to country, especially in the Asian countries. There are various types of soy sauces, from Chinese to Japanese, and Indonesian and even Korean. The flavors of these soy sauces can range from very salty, which is used in moderation in cooking, to soy sauce that is used to garnish foods, or used as a dipping sauce, such as sushi.
In Chinese cuisine, there are three different types of soy sauce. They are commonly referred to as light, dark, and thick soy sauce. The light soy sauce, which is also known as “fresh” soy sauce, is the most commonly used sauce. The color of the sauce is very light, which does not really affect the color of the food, which many people prefer. The taste of the fresh soy sauce is somewhat salty, and therefore is used mainly when cooking with other items. This soy sauce is highly regarded, as it is a meticulous process to create this version of soy sauce, as well as the unsurpassed taste. Dark soy sauce is not only darker that the light soy sauce, but is thicker as well. This is because molasses is added to the soy sauce, which truly cuts down on the salty flavor of the sauce, as well as thickening the food that is it used with. This is the most used Chinese soy sauce, as the true flavor of the sauce is not recognized until cooked. Unlike light soy sauce being used so that there will not be color effecting a dish, dark soy sauce is added to food to create a dark and delicious luster to the meal. Thick soy sauce is created from adding starch and sugar to the sauce. This sauce is much less salty, and as so, is used quite often as a dipping sauce. Thick soy sauce is paired nicely with sushi, and is often seen as an accompaniment to sushi in restaurants.
Unlike its Chinese counterparts, Japanese soy sauce has a much more savory and sweet taste. There is a wide array of Japanese soy sauces that are available. The most popular Japanese soy sauce that is used is called koikuchi. Koikuchi soy sauces are created from the fermentation of soybeans as well as wheat. Koikuchi sauces are known to be dark, and not as salty as other Japanese soy sauces. Fermented rice is used in usukuchi, another Japanese soy sauce. Due to the fermentation of the rice that is added to the sauce, usukuchi soy sauce is lighter, as well as saltier than koikuchi. Usukuchi is best used for cooking Japanese cuisine. Tamari, another Japanese soy sauce, is considered as the “original” Japanese soy sauce. This is because tamari was created after the Chinese version of soy sauce, and therefore is the oldest version of Japanese soy sauce. Due to its originality, tamari has a very deep, savory flavor, and possesses a deep and rich color when used in Japanese cuisine. Another widely utilized Japanese soy sauce is called shiro. Shiro is very light in appearance, due to the amount of wheat that is used to create the soy sauce. Since there is a minimal amount of soybeans that are used in this version, there is a sweet taste that accompanies the shiro.
Indonesian soy sauce, which is locally known as kecap, has two main versions. The two versions are referred to as kecap asin, whicle the other is kecap manis. Kecap asin is salty in flavor and light colored, which makes for a great substitution if Chinese soy sauce is not readily available for cooking. Kecap manis, on the other hand, is sweet and thick, which is often preferred for use as a condiment with Asian cuisine. Korean soy sauce is created from soy bean curd. Due to the fermentation process that occurs when creating Korean soy sauce, this soy sauce is extremely salty. Korean soy sauce is thick and dark, and when used in very small moderation, can go a long way in Asian cooking.
These various types of soy sauce can be utilized for many different types of food. Soybean curd is used to create tofu. Tofu is used quite often in Asian cuisine, often replacing beef, pork and chicken in dishes. When tofu is cooked with soy sauce, it can truly capture the flavor of the soy sauce, even more so than regular meat. Aside from Asian cooking, many Western cultures have adapted soy sauce into their everyday cooking, often using it in small amounts in such meals as meatloaf.
The packaging of soy sauce has truly evolved as well. Not only is the sauce available in bottles from major food chain stores, as well as specialty stores, but they are often seen in small packets as well. These packets are often seen in Asian restaurants, and accompany take out food orders, as well as sit on tables to be distributed in moderate amounts. Many individuals appreciate the soy sauce packets, and the convenience that are contributed with them.
Although many soy sauces are created from fermented wheat and soybean curd, there is sometimes alcohol that is added to soy sauce. There is also very few isoflavones. Isoflavones are thought to be the main source of health benefits in Tofu, Miso and Tempeh. Soy sauce is not a good source of Isoflavones. Due to this fact, there are very minimal health benefits that can be contributed to soy sauce. Many nutritionists also suggest that soy sauce should be consumed in moderation, and is not a replacement for Tofu, Miso and Tempeh.
Soy sauce can not only range in color and taste, but can truly make a meal. Asian fare would not be the same without soy sauce. Soy sauce is not only the epitome of Asian cuisine, but “makes” many dishes all around the world. The flavor of soy sauce can not be surpassed, and once it dances on the palate of one’s mouth, it is for certain a taste that one will never forget.