Had a bit of aged soy sauce added to a chicken broth recently and it really opened my eyes to how it can enhance flavors and not just add saltiness. I’ve had dark soy, but I’m hoping to find something a little more unique. It doesn’t need to be artisanal (e.g., aged in whisky barrels, etc.), though I would consider, that if there is a great quality product available.
Have you tried markets like Ebisuya or Ming’s? I have not browsed their selections recently but Chinese/ Japanese grocers usually carry a wide range of soy sauce. Skip the cheap, low end stuff that’s $2-3 a bottle, and instead go for those that are closer to $10 a bottle.
I have tried these for cooking:
I’ve gotten the San-J Tamari in the past from a non-Asian grocer.
The Japanese markets sometimes have fancier soy sauce between $10-$20 a bottle that are for tableside dipping.
Interested in your discoveries as you start looking.
I’ve tried the local outpost of HK Marts in Quincy (which I think is affiliated with Mings in Boston) and Kam Man. Ebisuya isn’t convenient for me, or I’d definitely hit that place up. I personally have not tried cooking with tamari – do you find it that different from regular soy? My understanding is that tamari is supposed to be soy sauce brewed without the wheat, correct?
I’m shooting for something closer to the fancy, dipping side of aged soy sauce, though if I can only start with the mass market kind, that’ll do for now. I have a trip to Hong Kong planned for the fall, and I might do a search there when the time comes. Thanks for the tips - if I can finagle a trip to Ebisuya, I will search there.
You might be,able to mail order the house “daiginjo” soy sauce from Raku in las vegas, made with umeboshi and other secret ingredients
Reliable Market does a better than decent job of stocking japanese food stuffs. But if I want the really good stuff, well, I go to Mitsuwa in New Jersey. Sorry to not be more helpful
We do a fair amount of Vietnamese, Hunanese, Shichuan, and Cantonese cooking so always have a bottle of San-J tamari on hand for those times when I want a lighter, less salty flavor in whatever we’re cooking. I use it whether or not we cooking a Japanese meal. I find tamari dosen’t have such a salty after taste some soy sauces do. Also, in the pantry are both dark and light soy sauces, plus mushroom soy, and other types.
You might be interested in this detailed explanation:
Gio, thanks for the informational link!
I mostly buy a couple of steps up from the cheapest to get a bit of nuance in the soy sauce and to avoid chemical additives like color, etc. Cheap stuff just taste like salt water with no depth, as you said.
I tend to think Reliable is the best bet in the Boston area for finding something better than average in the soy sauce department, too.
H Mart in Central has a dizzying variety. I got two Chinese ones there recently, a dark and a light, and their flavors are so different from the Japanese style, it’s been very exciting for me. Pearl Rivet Bridge is the brand of the light stuff, which I’d recommend first.
Yeah, I really would like to make a trip back to HMart. I already am a regular user of dark soy, but I’m looking for something a little more special. A lot of the readily available dark soy sauces have added caramel (or sometimes coloring), and I want to try a sauce that is truly aged, and natural, rather than relying on additives to give it the dark soy color and taste. Maybe it doesn’t readily exist in the US market, without having to buy something artisanal.
I found Wan Ja Shan’s “aged soy sauce” at a local market on Saturday (labeled “chen nian jiang you” vs lao chou"), but it came in a mega sized bottle and I didn’t want to buy such a large quantity without knowing if it tasted any differently. I might suck it up and give it a shot if I can’t find anything better here.
I had a roommate from China for a few months in college who made terrific stir-fries every day, and I asked him his secret. He said it was Pearl River Bridge light soy sauce, “the best there is.” It isn’t the aged stuff that kobuta is looking for but for inexpensive soy, it’s good.
It is the brand that my sis in law’s family uses too (originally from China). She used to bring it to my house when I couldn’t find it so that it was on hand.