Cooking With the Right Soy Sauce
I don’t know about you guys but I absolutely adore the Asian food, especially the Chinese one and I can’t wait for that day to come when I go straight to China and have my fill… But until then, I shall come back from the clouds and tell you that in this article you’ll find out how to cook with the right soy sauce in your exotic food, but also a bit about its benefits and other nutritional facts that I believe each soy sauce consumer has to know.
I’ve had many failed attempts to recreate at home some of the Chinese dishes I got through ordering and since I didn’t give up, I found many good uses for the soy sauce in an ordinary kitchen like mine.
It all starts with buying the right product but first of all let’s see what exactly the soy sauce is.
It is a traditional Asian condiment that goes way back in history. It is around three millennia old and it is known to have appeared in China and later on made its way to Japan as well.
China and Japan are the main producers of soy sauce, along with fish sauce; at some point these two sauces formed only one. But countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Korea and others produce the sauce as well.
The soybeans are well boiled, turned into paste and then put to fermentation along with salty water, roasted wheat and two types of the Aspergillus bacteria. After the fermentation process is complete, the liquid is drawn from the paste and bottled as soy sauce.
This sauce has a few varieties as well. Each country has added a little something to the soybeans while fermenting and so we’ve got ourselves plenty of choices on soy sauces.
The trouble comes when you’re not Asian and not really accustomed to the many types of sauce, and you have no idea what you’re doing. Except for buying one because it said so in the recipe.
China makes its soy sauce more pure, as in they use only soybeans for fermentation and no grains, and for their lighter versions of the sauce they let it ferment less than the darker sauces.
They’re considered more fresh this way and more expensive too. This light type of sauce is used on a day-to-day basis because it’s thinner and flavorful. The dark soy sauce is much thicker and less salty and tends to be cheaper than its light version.
The sauce made by the Japanese is the one that’s mostly seen in our stores. The difference between the Chinese and the Japanese ones is that the latter uses equal measures of soybeans and wheat for fermentation. This results in a sweeter soy sauce, with a milder flavor.
These too come in two assortments: light and dark (with a deep color and a stronger taste).
What I’ve learned is that the light version works better with my recipes, especially when I didn’t have much knowledge or experience with it. I use it mostly for cooking but I’ve tried it as a dip sauce with sushi as well and it’s amazing. Of course, they complement each other perfectly. For a more intense taste, and if you don’t mind the really dark color of your food, then the dark soy sauce will fit perfectly in your kitchen.
Generally speaking, the soy sauce can be used for:
• Marinades (meats and veggies)
Now you know how to choose the one sauce that best suits your needs but what about its benefits, right?
Some recent studies have shown that the soy sauce health benefits are as follows:
- Thanks to the fermentation process of the soybeans, the soy sauce is able to benefit the digestive track by supporting the growth of good bacteria in the large intestine.
- It can sustain the immune system and inflammatory systems that usually cause allergic responses.
It is not, however indicated to people with excessive salt intake since there are no concluding results yet.
Here are a few ideas on how to use your soy sauce:
- It appears that the sweet BBQ sauce makes a great team with the soy sauce, so don’t be shy when it comes to your roasts!
- Your chicken would taste a lot better if it was marinated in soy sauce with garlic, ginger, fish sauce (if you like it) and lemon zest. Just let it soak up all the goodies for one night and I guarantee you’ll be licking off your fingers the next day.
- Why not try making your own Chinese stir-fry at home? You could stir fry any veggie you like, with noodles or rice, in which you will use some soy sauce abundantly!
- Eat a special soup with beef and noodles. The soy sauce will definitely enhance all those flavors again.
- Mashed potatoes generally go well with a lot of spices and condiments but have you ever tried it with your favorite soy sauce? I’d suggest you do because all those who have served such “weird” combination have been really pleasantly surprised by their taste.
So the soy sauce benefits are not that many but it can sure improve our digestion and on top of that it can give our food such an exotic taste and flavor, which makes it a great condiment to have in your fridge. (After opening, it must be kept in a cool and dark place).
The nutrition value of soy sauce is:
• 53 calories per 100 grams.
• It has a total fat of 0.6 g (mono, poly and saturated fats);
• 0 cholesterol; 5,493 mg of Sodium; 435 mg of Potassium;
• 0.8 g of dietary fiber and 0.4 g of sugar; 8 g of protein and 18% Magnesium;
• 5% Vitamin B6; 7% Iron and 3% Calcium.
As usual, my advice same as everyone else’s I suggest you only look for organic soy sauce, one that has no coloring agents (caramel), preservatives and other additives. For better odds, try going directly to stores that sell natural food or Asian supermarkets.
Do you cook with soy sauce? And if so, what is your favorite Asian dish or what other food do you like to dip in the sauce?