Soy Sauce

Saturday, 15 November 2008 | Tags:

A staple on most Asian dinner tables for over 2,500 years, soy sauce is a worldwide hit in the condiment aisles. We find out more about its salty sweetness, and test a variety to find the tastiest.

The Basics

  • Authenic soy sauce is a fermented blend of roasted soybean meal and ground wheat.

  • Soy sauces come from either Japan or China and include:

    • Chinese: Light (not to be confused with lite as in less sodium) is good for general seasoning and is probably one of the most popular on grocery shelves. Choose this for vegetables, seafood, and other milder-tasting foods.

    • Chinese: Dark is aged much longer than light and has a richer flavour that develops further when heated. It’s a good marinating sauce for meats.

    • Japanese: Regular is used primarily for dipping sushi and cooking.

    • Japanese: Tamari is similar to the dark Chinese version but is wheat-free.

  • The fewer the ingredients, the better. Look for soy beans, wheat, salt and sometimes a bit of alcohol. Avoid sauces with caramel sugars and other added sweeteners.

  • Buy the best you can afford, and make sure the label says naturally-brewed. (If it isn’t naturally-brewed, you could be getting hydrolyzed soy protein, which is unhealthy.)

  • To allow the natural flavours through, choose a light soy sauce for vegetables, seafood, and other milder-tasting foods.

  • Soy protein carries antioxidants, but unfortunately soy sauce only has sodium. One tablespoon of soy sauce contains 40% of your recommended daily sodium intake.

  • Look for low sodium on the label to cut down on salt.

  • Soy sauce will keep indefinitely at room temperature.


We rounded up a world of testers to help us taste test these soy sauces:

  • Lee Kum Kee: 35¢ per 100 ml
  • Kikkoman: 70¢ per 100 ml
  • China Lily: 83¢ per 100 ml
  • Yamasa Lite: 95¢ per 100 ml
  • San-J Tamari: $2.40 per 100 ml

Taste Test

  • China Lily was a favourite for cooked vegetables and was chosen for general wok-type fare.

  • Kikkoman was the top pick for sushi. It was the best match for all our test foods.


Kikkoman turned out to be the most versatile, for both sushi, vegetables, and other light foods.


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