Where To Buy Dark Soy Sauce?

The added mushroom taste in mushroom-flavored dark soy sauce gives foods a richer umami flavor. It can be substituted for conventional dark soy sauce in recipes. In essence, double black soy sauce is just soy sauce with molasses added, which gives it a darker, thicker, and somewhat sweeter flavor.

The light soy sauce on the left is very thin in consistency, as you can see below, whereas the black soy sauce in the centre is thicker and darker. The double black soy sauce on the right resembles dark soy sauce in consistency.

If there isn’t a Chinese market nearby, dark soy sauce can also be purchased online. Keep your black soy sauce in the pantry or another cool, dry location. There is no need to chill.

How dark is Kikkoman soy sauce?

A third contrast is between light and dark. The discrepancy is primarily caused by how long people age.

Chinese and Japanese light soy sauces are both thinner and lighter in color than their dark counterparts, but have a stronger flavor.

Because molasses or another sweetener is often added to dark Chinese soy sauce, which is kept the longest, it frequently has a sweeter flavor.

Another complication is that, even if the bottle isn’t labeled as such, which it typically isn’t, dark Japanese soy sauce is what is most readily available and utilized, according to Roberts. For instance, the normal Traditionally Brewed Soy Sauce from Kikkoman is dark in color.

The situation is reversed in Chinese cuisine, where light soy sauce is more prevalent. The labels on bottles will sometimes say “thin” or “superior” or “dark” to signify light. According to Young, the latter is saved for stews or used as a flavor enhancer or finisher in sauces.

Soy Sauce, Shoyu, and Tamari?

In addition to being correct and pure enjoyment, What’s the Difference also aims to broaden everyone’s perspective on the world. Therefore, everyone is welcomed, seen, and appreciated, regardless of whether they have a pantry that resembles a 17th-century apothecary or just recognize the phrase “soy sauce” in the label. Let’s take a dip together as we’re all here to enjoy the JOY of KNOWLEDGE.

Around 2,000 years ago, soy sauce was first created using a method quite similar to the one we employ today. To create it, roasted wheat and soybeans are combined and inoculated with koji, or Aspergillus mold. (The mold known as koji is also used to manufacture sake and miso paste.) The soybean-wheat-koji mixture is blended with water and salt to create a thick mash after three to four days. After fermentation, the mash is customarily matured for 18 months or longer before being filtered and bottled.

There are Chinese-style and Japanese-style soy sauces. Japanese-style soy sauces are created using a soy and wheat mixture, typically 50/50, while Chinese-style soy sauces are historically made with 100 percent soy. As a result, compared to their Chinese counterparts, which are frequently saltier and more assertive, Japanese sauces have a sweeter, more complex flavor. Simply put, shoyu is the name for the light (usukuchi) or dark soy sauce popular in Japan (koikuchi).

Tamari is a substance that resembles soy sauce and was first produced as a by-product of creating miso. It is traditionally manufactured exclusively from soybeans (and not wheat), giving it a flavor more akin to Chinese-style soy sauce and making it a perfect gluten-free choice. (If you’re worried about gluten, check the bottle; many tamaris these days do contain a small amount of wheat.)

Chinese dark soy sauce, which is thicker and darker in color but less salty than the light sauces and occasionally contains sugar or molasses, is an Indonesian style of soy sauce that is well-liked throughout Southeast Asia. Other soy sauce varieties include Chinese light soy sauce, also known as “fresh or “thin soy sauce, which is the most common soy sauce in Chinese cuisine. With the addition of palm sugar, star anise, galangal, and other aromatics, sweet soy sauce is given a “barbecue-sauce consistency,” according to Max Falkowitz of Snuk Foods. It works well as a marinade and is popular in stir-fries, rice, and noodle dishes.

One more thing: always verify the ingredients before purchasing any soy sauce or soy sauce-like product. There are products on the market today that are labeled as soy sauce but actually include a ton of disgusting chemicals in an effort to mimic the flavor of soy sauce without going through the traditional fermentation process. “If you see anything on the label other than soy beans, wheat, salt, and mold cultures, such as caramel coloring and ‘natural flavors,’ steer clear,” advises Max. It should be simple to purchase something with so many possibilities.

Are dark and black soy sauces interchangeable terms?

The Steamed Pork Bun dish uses three different types of soy sauce, each of which adds a distinct taste note.

The flavor of the other components in a recipe is enhanced by the use of light soy sauce, also known as pure bean or thin soy sauce. It is flavorful and thin. Light soy isn’t a reduced-sodium “light soy sauce,” as many Westerners believe it to be.

Dark soy sauce, often known as black soy sauce, is sweet and thick from the addition of molasses. It is used to give a meal a dark hue and flavor.

Even thicker, darker, and sweeter than dark soy sauce is double dark soy sauce (also known as double black soy sauce). Additionally, it is employed to provide color and a rich, sweet flavor.

Asian markets should have Chinese soy sauce available. Soy sauces should be kept tightly closed at room temperature for up to six months after opening.

What is dark soy sauce?

There are various varieties of soy sauce. Many different types are offered, ranging from light to dark and thicker to thinner.

Compared to standard or light forms of soy sauce, dark soy sauce is a little bit sweeter. The Chinese name for it is Llo Chu. Dark soy sauce is used to flavor meals and deepen the color of noodles, sauces, fried food, and other foods, just like regular soy sauce.

Pork is braised in dark soy sauce, and dishes with meat and stir-fries often have a rich, amber-colored glaze on top. Numerous well-known rice and noodle dishes also contain it.

In the US, it is particularly well-liked. 2.21 million Americans used four or more bottles of soy sauce in 2020, according to Census data [1].

Tips to Use Dark Soy Sauce

  • Use black soy sauce moderately when cooking to prevent oversalted meals. Usually, only 1 or 2 teaspoons are required to provide a beautiful rich red hue.
  • Hong Shao Rou and Cantonese noodles both frequently utilize dark soy sauce. It aids in giving food a deep and rich color.
  • If you prefer minimal salt content, use low sodium soy instead of dark soy sauce, which often has a high salt concentration.

Is dark soy sauce the same as hoisin sauce?

They are unique. Dark soy sauce is significantly thinner; hoisin sauce is thicker and sweeter. Dark soy does not contain many other components that are present in hoisin sauce.

What’s the difference between light soy sauce and dark soy sauce?

While light soy sauce is typically used for flavor, dark soy sauce is mostly utilized to give foods a rich color.

Why Choose a Dark Soy Sauce Substitute?

Contrary to what you might believe, dark soy sauce has just as much salt as ordinary soy sauce.

A surprising 879 mg of salt and 8.5 calories are really included in one tablespoon of dark soy sauce [2]. In contrast, a tablespoon of normal soy sauce has roughly 18 calories and 1000 milligrams of salt.

Try one of the many dark soy sauce replacements that are currently offered if you want to reduce your salt intake while still enjoying the rich flavor of dark soy sauce.

You might be searching for a dark soy sauce alternative for reasons other than salt. If you are allergic to soy, you are unable to consume any soy sauce, so you will naturally look for a non-soy substitute.

Even though soy sauce doesn’t actively include goods with gluten in them, it does contain components that may cause a reaction in someone with a gluten allergy. You might want to change it out for something different because of this.

Another factor driving your need for a dark soy sauce alternative may be a lack of availability. Dark soy sauce is less common than regular soy sauce in the west, while being a staple in many eastern cultures.

As a result, even if you aren’t concerned about allergens or sodium content, dark soy sauce might not be available to you.


Check out our list of alternatives to black soy sauce if you’re seeking for one. Alternately, you can just prepare your own at home using our recipe. There are many choices available!

What flavor does black soy sauce have?

The fundamental distinction between each of them is as follows:

Light soy sauce (7.2% sodium) provides salt but doesn’t give noodles a rich mahogany color or much of a “soy flavor” to a dish.

The flavor and saltiness of dark soy sauce (9.3% sodium) must be stronger, giving noodles a wonderful dark color.

All-purpose soy sauce has 7% sodium and is a rather light sauce with a tad more soy flavor. Noodles won’t get colored stains from it.

As salt amounts vary between brands, sodium percentages are merely an indicator for each variety of soy sauce. The important lesson here is that all-purpose and light soy are less salty than dark soy.

Soy Sauce Facts! Light soy sauce seems saltier even though it contains more salt than dark soy sauce. This is so because the soy flavor in black soy sauce is considerably stronger and drowns out the salty flavor.

What it implies

To achieve the perfect balance of flavor, color, and saltiness, many recipes call for a mixture of dark soy sauce and light sauce. The flavor of the sauce is definitely too strong if you only use dark soy sauce. The sauce will be salty but flavorless if you only use mild soy sauce. In order to add saltiness, flavor, and color to sauces and noodles as well as for coloring purposes, I first use dark soy sauce. Light soy sauce, on the other hand, adds saltiness, a little bit of flavor, and little to no color.

Which soy sauce brand does Chinese food use?

In line with contemporary globalization, soy sauce gains popularity on a global scale. After ketchup and mayonnaise, soy sauce is the third most popular sauce in the US. According to a 2011 New York Times article, 65% of American homes had soy sauce on hand. The Asian shelves in supermarkets have endless rows of various sorts and brands from many nations and areas, making it difficult to always choose the right one.

This page provides a thorough overview of all the major soy sauce varieties that are sold in Asian markets across America, including which ones to seek out and which to stay away from.

What’s Soy sauce

Soy sauce, commonly referred to as soya sauce in the UK, is a common Asian condiment and flavor made from just four simple ingredients: soybeans, wheat, water, and salt. Soy sauce is a flexible, salty, and brownish flavor enhancer used to season food while cooking or at the table. It has the distinct yet fundamental umami flavor of naturally occurring free glutamates. It started off as a meat-fermented sauce in China some 2500 years ago, but it has since spread over all of Asia. Today, Worcestershire sauce and Maggi Seasoning have taken over in Western cuisine, while Japanese soy sauce has emerged as the global market leader.


Production of soy sauce involves a number of phases and can take anywhere from 30 days to years, depending on the brewing methods used, which vary by area. Typically, there are four main steps in the brewing process.

  • The soybeans or defatted soy meal are prepared by soaking them in water, then cooking them in a large cooker. The resulting product will depend on the amount of cooking time, temperature, and pressure. Compared to whole soybeans, defatted soy meal is less expensive and ferments significantly faster. Whole soybeans produce a smoother, softer, and more nuanced flavor due to their higher oil content and longer fermentation period. Additionally, due to the prolonged fermentation, there is an increase in glutamic acid, which is essential for the umami flavor and mouthfeel. Whole wheat is toasted and cracked if it is used. The size of the cracked wheat and the degree of roasting both have a significant impact on the final flavor of the soy sauce. To remove wheat gluten, many soy sauce recipes include wheat flour, wheat bran, or rice flour. The primary objective of using wheat flour and/or wheat bran in Chinese soy sauce is to initiate fermentation.
  • Growing: While still warm, cooked soybeans and prepared wheat are blended proportionately. Depending on the recipe and the type of soy sauce, the percentage varies. In order to achieve the ideal temperature and humidity, the mixture is injected with a specialized seed mold and incubated in sizable perforated vats. After an extended period of incubation, mold begins to form on the entire mass, which then turns green due to sporulation. One to seven days are required for incubation. The Japanese word for soy mass is “koji,” and it contains many enzymes that are needed to break down proteins, starches, and seed oils.
  • The soy mash is transferred to fermentation tanks where it is combined with either coarse salt for dry fermentation or a precise quantity of salt brine for wet fermentation. The enzymes of mold on wheat and soy break down the proteins over time into fatty acids, starches into sugars, and seed oils into amino acids, including glutamic acid. Some of the sugar from the fatty acids is further fermented to lactic acid and alcohol. To encourage fermentation, lactic acid bacteria and yeast cultures can be added. In the past, the slurry was naturally fermented in sizable vats and outside in the sun, which was thought to provide more tastes. The combination is now transferred in an incubator with controlled humidity and temperature. This fermenting process, which can take 30 days to several months or, in rare cases, several years, generates over 200 different taste compounds and develops the soy sauce flavor character.
  • After fermentation, the raw soy sauce is extracted from the fermented mash by drawing it out or pressing it. Then it is heated to stop further fermentation as well as to add additional layer of taste by promoting the browning reaction between amino acids and sugar. The pasteurization at a high temperature renders the soy sauce fit for bottling and consumption.

At the start of fermentation, salt, or sodium chloride, is added at a rate of 12–18% of the weight of the finished product. In addition to adding flavor, salt aids in creating the ideal chemical environment for the lactic acid bacteria and yeast to develop. Unless additional sugar or alcohol is added instead, the resulting product must also be protected from spoiling by the high salt concentration.

A bamboo-woven cylinder is positioned in the middle of the fermenting vat and the raw soy sauce is gradually drawn or extracted from the cylinder in an artisanal production process to obtain soy sauce from the fermented mash. After the initial extraction, salt and water are reintroduced to the vat to restart the fermentation process. A second extraction is carried out gradually. The first extract is of the highest grade and is literally labeled “Premium” () or “Touchou” (), whereas the second extract is referred to as “Gold Label” (). The third extract can be used to manufacture black soy sauce, be packaged as “Silver Label,” or be recycled as brine for the subsequent batch.

Types of Soy Sauce

Many Asian nations have integrated soy sauce into their traditional foods. Despite having a somewhat similar look, the flavor, consistency, and saltiness of soy sauces produced in various cultures and places varies greatly. There are literally hundreds of different soy sauce variants, which are divided into many categories. These variations are typically brought about by varying production techniques, fermentation times, ingredient proportions, or the inclusion of other ingredients. The main kinds sold in grocery shops in the United States can be categorized by their origins in China, which include Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and Korea.

Chinese Soy Sauces

Other names for soy sauce in Chinese include jiangyou, zhiyou, and douyou (). Chinese soy sauce typically uses less wheat flour and wheat bran in the recipe than Japanese soy sauce made from roasted wheat. Technically, the wheat flour is utilized less for flavoring and more for incubation.

The categorization of fermented soy sauce is specified by Chinese national standards GB18186-200 and SB/T10173-1993, which place emphasis on the method of production. Brew soy sauce and blended soy sauce are two types of fermented soy sauce. While the latter is manufactured from brewing soy sauce by adding chemicals to change its flavor and texture, the former is made straight from a fermentation process utilizing soybean, wheat, salt, and water.

Chinese soy sauce cannot be distinguished in China based on either color or application. The terms “light soy sauce” and “dark soy sauce,” as they are known in Southern Cantonese cuisine regions like Guangdong and Hong Kong, were first coined by custom. These days, China and other countries are steadily catching on to this soy sauce naming trend.

Instead of using a light soy sauce for stir-frying and a dark one for red-cooking separately, most regions outside of Southern China, including Sichuan, have traditionally used only one soy sauce for everything. For instance, even today, Sichuan’s well-known local brands like Zhongba and Xianshi still only create one type of all-purpose soy sauce. This “all-in-one” soy sauce culture is akin to those of Japan and Taiwan. It is not uncommon for many locals to still have no knowledge of either light or dark soy sauce. Today, an all-purpose soy sauce is frequently referred to as “Northern soy sauce,” whereas a light or dark soy sauce is referred to as “Southern soy sauce.”

Chinese soy sauces sold at grocery shops in the United States are manufactured in Southern China. They are identified using the Cantonese naming system, which we will explore below.

Light soy sauce, often known as thin soy sauce, is categorized as a brewed soy sauce. It has a relatively thin consistency, is light in color, tastes salty, and has a low viscosity. This soy sauce has a lighter tint than Kikkoman all-purpose soy sauce. In Cantonese cooking, it is referred to as normal soy sauce. When soy sauce is specified in a Cantonese dish without more explanation, light soy sauce is meant. Light soy sauce is categorised as either “Premium,” “Gold Label,” or “Silver Label” in terms of quality (). The flavor of the initial premium extract is thought to be superior to that of the gold label counterpart, much like extra virgin olive oil. Touchou () is the name of a premium light soy sauce. Due of its delicate flavor, it is typically used for dipping and to season light meals.

Double-fermented soy sauce is what is produced when soy sauce is fermented twice by substituting brine for a second brewing with light soy sauce from a different batch (). It is generally used for dipping and stir-frying due to the luxury flavor.

All Koon Chun goods are produced there. Its Thin Soy Sauce is a premium light soy sauce that has won awards. It is manufactured from Canadian soybeans, high-quality sea salt, and wheat flour. Koon Chun’s best light sauce, Superior First Extract, differs from its Thin Soy Sauce in that it requires 6–12 months to ferment. Between its Thin Soy Sauce and Black Soy Sauce is the Gold Label Soy Sauce. For dishes that call for non-specific soy sauce, particularly non-Cantonese foods, this soy sauce is ideal.

In general, Koon Chun soy sauces have higher approval ratings than other labels. With only four fundamental components, its light soy sauces offer a flavor that is complex, balanced, but salty.

The name Pearl River Bridge is a household name for premium Chinese soy sauces produced in China. It is among the soy sauce brands that receive the most online recommendations. All Pearl River Bridge light soy sauces, like Koon Chun, do not contain any additional additives.

However, the soy sauces supplied by Pearl River Bridge for the US market are distinct from those for China. Thankfully, they provide many packages. These soy sauces from Pearl River Bridge were all created with export in mind.

Amoy sauce has been manufactured for more than a century. Many soy sauces sold in the US are prepared in Hong Kong using naturally fermented Canadian non-GMO soyabeans. Many mild soy sauces have additional flavoring.

An impartial blind assessment conducted by Cooks Illustrated determined that Lee Kum Kee soy sauce had the best flavor.

The most flavorful soy sauce is double fermented, even without added flavoring.

Dark soy sauce, often known as black soy sauce, is categorized as a blended soy sauce. This kind has a slightly thicker texture and a deeper tint. Compared to its lighter counterpart, it has a richer, sweeter flavor that is less salty and savory.

The first extract of light soy sauce is aged for a further few months in sunlight in traditional artisanal production to create this soy sauce. Soy sauce gets darker, thicker, and less salty with a sweet flavor as it ages due to water evaporation and salt crystallization. For the characteristic appearance of light soy sauce (rarely first extract) in modern production, molasses or caramel color are simply added.

For slow, prolonged cooking techniques like braising, red-cooking, etc., dark soy sauce is primarily employed. It imparts a lovely caramel color and a little sweet undernote to the food.

Because dark soy sauce has a weak flavor, straw mushroom broth is added during production to give it a deeper flavor than plain dark soy sauce. The finished product is known as dark soy sauce with a mushroom taste or mushroom dark soy sauce ().

Molasses and first extract soy sauce are combined to create both black and double black soy sauce. The distinction is that Double Black, out of all the Koon Chun soy sauces, has the thickest color and is ideal for recipes that demand for both flavor and color.

The salt content of Premium Dark soy sauce and LKK Premium soy sauce bottles is nearly identical. Dark has sugar and caramel color added, which is why it is dark.

It is intriguing that none of the three brand names’ black soy sauces contain any additional taste enhancers (such as MSG).

A freshly developed, all-purpose soy sauce in the Japanese style, Lee Kum Kee Supreme Soy Sauce is manufactured from just four fundamental ingredients: soybean, wheat, salt, and water. No other additives are used. Unlike Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce, which is a light soy sauce with flavorings added, it is different.

Most Southern Chinese businesses have started making all-purpose soy sauces in the Japanese manner in recent years.

Premium light soy sauce that has been seasoned with fish sauce, sugar, cooking wine, and spices is known as “seasoned soy sauce for seafood.” It is mostly used to steam fish in the traditional Chinese method. With a flavor that is less salty than light soy sauce and an undertone of sweetness, the sauce can gives food a restaurant-style flavor at home. Of course, everything else can be replaced with the seasoned soy sauce in place of light soy sauce.

Using fresh or fermented seafood extract, seafood soy sauce is a special kind of premium light soy sauce. Both soy sauce and fish sauce flavors can be found in this sauce.

Due to the addition of molasses and a starch thickener, thick soy sauces are sweeter and have a thicker consistency than black soy sauce. It is mostly for eateries and catering businesses who desire a more enticing surface for foods like roasted piglet and barbecued chicken.

Different from Taiwan type thick soy sauce is Hong Kong style thick soy sauce. The latter is utilized for specific braising preparations or dipping.

Modern all-purpose soy sauce called “seasoned soy sauce” has monosodium glutamate, disodium guanylate, and disodium inosinate added as taste enhancers. Lee Kum Kee claims that this particular soy sauce is perfect for marinating, dipping, or stir-frying and improves the flavor and presentation of all different kinds of food. These soy sauces, which resemble ripoffs of the coveted Maggi Seasonings, are growing in popularity in the United States.

According to Wikipedia, however, disodium guanylate is not safe for infants younger than twelve weeks old and ought to be avoided by those who have gout and asthma since guanylates are converted to purines when consumed.

Low sodium soy sauce, which is intended to reduce salt intake with regard to blood pressure and cardiovascular health, contains 35%–40% less sodium than ordinary soy sauce.

When making soy sauce, salt is a crucial ingredient because it has antibacterial properties. Not only is it included for flavor, but it also aids in creating the right chemcial environment so that the yeast and lactic acid bacteria can ferment properly. A high salt concentration is also required to assist prevent spoiling of the end product.

In order to control the proper chemical environment for fermentation, low sodium soy sauce is either produced similarly to regular soy sauce with about 40% of the salt removed after brewing, or it is produced using less salt and more sugar and alcohol, which results in a product with lower levels of lactic acids and other flavoring compounds. To make up for the flavor loss and to help prevent spoiling, lactic acids and alcohol are added to the finished soy sauce.

Low sodium soy sauce shouldn’t be used in place of regular soy sauce if it is not necessary.

As soy sauce gains market share in the United States, wheat-free and low-sodium varieties of this condiment are becoming more widely available. For instance, it is now rather usual to see “wheat-free tamari” in American supermarkets, despite the fact that tamari is a particular kind of soy sauce that is traditionally made with a small quantity of wheat. This information (such as “wheat-free” and/or “reduced sodium”) is typically prominently printed on the product label.