We use cookies to give you the best online shopping experience. You can find out more by reading our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.

Soy Sauce


From the original tamari sauce of the 7th Century to the Kikkoman soy sauce enjoyed everywhere in Japan today, there is no doubt that Japanese soy sauce (or soya sauce, or shoyu) has been an important part of Japanese cuisine for quite some time. This fermented mixture of soy beans, wheat, salt, and koji rice mould is one of the most widely utilised condiments in Japan, seasoning everything from ramen noodle soup to senbei rice crackers and spreading out to the local cuisines of other countries as well. Truly there is no substitute for soy sauce.

These days there are a lot of different varieties of Japanese soy sauce from which to choose. As well as Japanese soy sauce being different in flavour to Chinese soy sauces, the four key ingredients in Japanese soy sauce (soy beans, wheat, salt, and koji) are also used at varying levels to make different types of Japanese soy sauce, including dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, low sodium soy sauce, and whole bean or marudaizu soy sauce.

Continue reading to find out more about Japanese soy sauce, including its history, how it is made, the different types available, and exciting soy sauce recipes. Alternatively, browse through an incredible range of Japanese soy sauces by taking a look at japancentre.com’s Soy Sauce section.

Shop now >

Jc soysauce moromi 860 560

History/Background

Soy sauce was invented in China between the 3rd and 5th Centuries AD. Originally made by fermenting different meats, fish, and salt, soy beans were soon added to the recipe, eventually replacing meat and fish entirely. This recipe was introduced to Japan in the 7th Century, from which time it evolved and diversified to become Japanese soy sauce as it is known today.

Approximately 80% of all Japanese soy sauce is brewed using a method known as honjozo. In this method, roasted wheat and steamed soy beans are combined with koji mould (the fermenting agent), then placed in tanks with brine water, making an unfermented soy sauce solution called moromi. The moromi is left to ferment for 6-8 months before being pressed. The soy sauce liquid is then pasteurised and filtered before being aged or bottled and sold.

Although this is the standard soy sauce production method, variations of this same theme occur depending on what type of Japanese soy sauce is being produced.

Jc soysauce chinese 260 260

Japanese soy sauces tend to taste slightly sweeter than Chinese soy sauces, owing to the Japanese innovation of adding wheat to the basic recipe.

Jc soysauce filtered 260 260

Japanese soy sauces often have a slightly alcoholic flavour to them, particularly when small amounts of brewed alcohol are added as a natural preservative.

Types of Soy Sauce

Dark soy sauce

Dark Soy Sauce, or Koikuchi

Accounting for over 80% of all Japanese soy sauces, koikuchi originated in Japan’s Kanto region and has come to be used all over the country (and in much of the rest of the world). Koikuchi is made from equal parts soy bean and wheat, and has a salty, deep umami flavour. It is the ultimate general purpose soy sauce that no Japanese pantry should be without.

Buy dark soy sauce >

Light soy sauce

Light Soy Sauce, or Usukuchi

This lighter coloured soy sauce accounts for 10-15% of all Japanese soy sauce. Its recipe uses more salt than koikuchi, making the final product both saltier and less strongly fermented than most other soy sauces. Usukuchi originated from Japan’s Kansai region, and is best used for Kansai cuisine or for dishes that require a more subtle umami flavour.

Buy light soy sauce >

Tamari soy sauce

Tamari Soy Sauce

A darker type of soy sauce most commonly used in Japan’s Chubu region, tamari is the variety of soy sauce that most closely resembles the original recipe that came to Japan in the 7th century. It is the only Japanese soy sauce made without wheat, and it has a dense umami flavour that nicely compliments sushi and sashimi, as well as senbei and other grilled foods.

Buy tamari soy sauce >

White soy sauce

White Soy Sauce, or Shiro Shoyu

This very light (dashi or tsuyu-coloured) soy sauce is made by brewing mostly wheat and only the smallest fraction of soy bean. It has a mild and uniquely sweet flavour, and its light colour makes it particularly ideal for dishes that would benefit from the flavour of soy sauce if not the colour, such as lighter coloured soups and chawanmushi egg custard.

Buy white soy sauce >

Reduced salt soy sauce

Reduced Salt Soy Sauce, or Genen Shoyu

A relatively recent invention, reduced salt soy sauces are made by putting koikuchi soy sauce through a special fermentation process that retains flavour while reducing salt content by around 50%. These soy sauces are marketed toward the health conscious, and can be used just like regular koikuchi sauces.

Buy reduced salt soy sauce >

Marudaizu soy sauce

Whole Bean Soy Sauce, or Marudaizu Shoyu

Unlike other soy sauces, which are made from a combination of whole and defattened soy beans, marudaizu soy sauces are made only with whole soy beans. They have a milder yet more complex flavour than standard koikuchi sauces, and are normally more expensive. These soy sauces are best enjoyed as a condiment for sushi or sashimi.

Buy whole bean soy sauce >

Soy Sauce Makers

3253 kikkoman special soy sauce

886 kikkoman soy sauce

Original

Kikkoman

Recognised as one of the largest and few genuine soy sauce brands on the market, Kikkoman has gained prestige and adoration around the world for its premium quality products. Their soy sauce is naturally brewed and as such offers 'an authentic taste of Japan' by enhancing the flavours of many different types of international dishes.

Shop now >

Original

5490 yamasa kombu kelp tsuyu

Original

Yamasa

Yamasa is one of the oldest Japanese soy sauce brands, well known for their expertise in producing top quality products. Their soy sauce was appointed the best grade possible by the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1864; an honour that is reflected by the use of the Japanese kanji 上, meaning 'above', that can be seen on the top right of the Yamasa logo.

Shop now >

Recipes with Soy Sauce

1198 soba salad shichimi

七味粉烤豆腐荞麦面沙拉

快通过这份食谱给自己做一道营养更丰富的沙拉吧。这份食谱中包含了很多对身体有益的元素:Q弹爽滑的荞麦面条、松脆的坚果、美味的烤豆腐,还有略带辣味的酱油调味,风味绝佳。这款沙拉绝对是您午餐或晚餐的好伴侣,尤其是在那些天气温暖的日子里。

Read more >

893 wasabi soy sauce steak

芥末酱油牛排

享受这款在短短几分钟内就可以用烤架或是煎锅制作出的带有日式料理灵感的牛排吧。这道简单易做的芥末酱油牛排将芥末的火辣和酱油的鲜味融合在一起,让您的牛排味道更加出众。在晚餐时试着做一下这道芥末酱油牛排吧,您会惊叹于巧妙运用日式调味料所带来的变化。

Read more >

1279 red wine pork belly

红酒焖五花肉

五花肉精致细腻的肉香与酱油和红酒浓烈馥郁的香气结合,成就了这道红酒焖五花肉。在众多东亚美食料理中,五花肉是一个非常受欢迎的食材。五花肉的料理也常常是中国和日本餐厅菜单上的特色菜。这道美味的红酒焖五花肉既可以作为主菜单独食用,也可以配上米饭食用。

Read more >

541 cooking with soy sauce

在烹饪中运用酱油

下面这些食谱将告诉您如何在料理中有效的运用酱油。酱油、味霖、日式料酒以及Dashi日式高汤料是日式料理中最关键的四种调味料。酱油是由大豆、小麦、盐等经发酵制成,它能够给食物提味提鲜,使菜肴的味道更加鲜美浓郁。以下六个食谱将告诉您如何在日式料理及西式料理中运用酱油增鲜。

Read more >

Jc soysauce bottles 560 350

Japan Centre's Soy Sauce section offers a fantastic range of the best soy sauces from Japan and around the world.

Shop now >

BLOG

6 Must-Have Ingredients You'll Want to Have Stocked

Check out our recommendation for six must have Japanese ingredients, what to use them for and just why there are so many different types!

Read more >

The Holy Trinity of Japanese Flavour

In every popular cuisine, there are three essential ingredients that make up the holy trinity, the cornerstone of flavours that give that classic, instantly recognisable taste. In Japanese food these three main ingredients are soy sauce, dashi and mirin.

Read more >