Growing up in a restaurant kitchen – one of the rules of the wok was to use light soy sauce for cooking at the start and to splash some dark soy sauce at to finish the dish before serving to add colour. As I couldn’t read chinese and with the bottles available with no english text – I could tell which was which by doing a simple test. Simply turn the bottle upside down and back up again and the light soy will turn clear very quickly whilst the dark will stick to the glass/plastic. The brand used at the time and still the most popular amongst chinese chefs is the Pearl River Bridge superior soy sauce brand. In any of the recipes I post you can use the Pearl River Bridge light soy sauce during any marinading and cooking processes whilst finishing with the dark soy version at the end of recipes to taste. Dark soy is also the type you will find on tables for the customer to alter the taste. This is because dark soy is less salty and there is less margin to oversalt the flavour.
As an adult I have been lucky enough to have travelled the world – much of the time just to try out some of the best restaurants and their cuisine. Food is one of my biggest passions and the only reason why I have not opened up my own kitchen is because of the long hours involved and the detriment to life as a result. I have experienced this as a son of a chef and don’t really want to repeat the cycle. Whereas my father and many other chefs have lost the passion for food, my interest has intensified and as a result I experiment a lot more and my palate has become more sensitive.
As well as a lot of fusion and western cuisine I still cook and reimagine Asian dishes and I now prefer the sweeter taste of well made Japanese soy sauce in my Asian cooking rather than the harsher and artificially salty taste of Chinese soy sauces like the Pearl River Bridge range (colouring and potentially carsonagenic chemicals are used in the process too as confirmed by the Food standards agency). The Japanese soy sauce I use are sweeter due to the addition of wheat and have a sherry like flavour due to the addition of alcohol as part of the fermentation process. The production is also far more sophisticated than the production of Chinese brands. This does also mean that they are a lot more expensive.
In many of the recipes I have posted I have been specific to which Kikoman soy sauce to buy. As the sauces are imported, they are all in Japanese and I don’t have a Japanese keyboard and most of you can’t read Japanese (I apologise if most of you can). There is only one more reference so that you can purchase the same soy sauce that I use and that is the Kikoman number.
Here’s a reference for you about my favourite soy sauces:
Kikoman C00036 Reduced Soy Sauce (Gen-en Marudaizu Shoyu)
Kikoman C00039 Soy Sauce (Shoyu)
Kikoman C00044 Organic non alcoholic premium Soy Sauce (Tokusen Yuuki Shoyu)
Yamasa Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce (The whole bottle is in English)
I tend to use the Yamasa soy sauce only occasionally when I want a really strong salty & alcoholic flavour like when I’m cooking a salty fish dish.
There are other varieties of Soy Sauce too, here are a few off the top of my head:
Kecap Manis is a really thick and treacle like soy sauce due to the high content of palm sugar. I prefer not to use these at all as i wake up with a guaranteed headache the next day (maybe an allergy ).
Kicap Lemak is like Kecap Manis but with less sugar content
Shiro is a high wheat, low soybean soy sauce which makes it really sweet and great for sashimi (raw fish sushi without the rice). It’s odd that most sushi restaurants here don’t have this available. Keep it fridged after opening or it will go off pretty quickly.