Sacrilegious “Soy” sauce.

It has bothered me for months, but what? Westerners reviewing soy sauce, then using them to cook Chinese stir-fry dishes.

Using one type of soy sauce to cook all Asian dishes is almost like saying all white people are British. Or using white vinegar as balsamic or champagne vinegar is alright. Well it is not.

Chinese and Japanese soy sauce are not the same. Japanese soy sauce is lighter and not as salty and Chinese soy sauce in general, that is why I don’t use Chinese soy sauce to eat sushi with. Chinese soy sauce has a slightly bolder and deep fermented soy flavor in it. I agree that cooking it too long in a stir fry can even bring out a sour flavor. But where is America’s Test Kitchen learning how to do Chinese stir fry from?

If they did their homework, they would know that there are different types as well as grades of Chinese soy sauce, not just Japanese types. My family keeps about two are more types of soy in the house and sometimes we comprise. Being Cantonese, we eat a lot of delicate flavored foods, such as steam fish (must use really fresh fish), steamed chicken, won tons, steamed meat dumplings, or soft tofu, in which we normally would lightly drizzle with a light Chinese soy sauce, but we might substitute it with a salty Japanese soy sauce. The saltier taste of the light Chinese soy sauce brings out the flavor of the meat or the sweetness of the soft tofu. In stir fry we use the dark, but not thick, prime to medium grade Chinese soy sauce, but not always. To appreciate the deep soy flavor from this type of soy sauce, you can taste it in (my opinion) two ways:

1 . drizzled over a super fresh hot bowl of steam rice along with cooked oil, with the optional luxurious raw egg in the middle.

2. cooked into stir fried noodles (i.e. fun or thin egg noodles made for stir frying not soup) (refer to the art of “Wok”), with optional yellow chives and/or bean sprouts.

These two are the most common type of Chinese soy sauce and has been infused with other flavors and used for cooking or dipping food in. The third most common is the super dark and thick soy sauce, which is commonly used in braising, but other ways as well.

In conclusion because something is called a vinegar or red wine, remember that they are not all the same. Just like not all white people are British or not all Asians are Chinese.


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