All About Food · Ingredients for Life

Light Soy Sauce vs. Dark Soy Sauce

In many of my recipes I call for light soy sauce and/or dark soy sauce.  I began to think that many of you may be like I was and not really know what dark soy sauce is let alone the differences between light soy sauce and dark soy sauce.  I surely didn’t know the difference until (yes, again I mention) living in Thailand.  Before moving to Thailand I thought I had a good grasp on many ingredients but I am now starting to realize I may have been in a food ingredient coma and I have finally come out of it, ha ha.

Light Soy Sauce has a thin viscosity with a light brown color that is clear.  It is salty and is widely used as a condiment in Asian cooking because of its distinct salty flavor.  

Dark Soy Sauce, on the other hand, is much darker than light soy sauce.  It has a thicker consistency and a slightly sweeter and less salty taste to the light soy sauce.  It is often used in smaller quantities during the cooking process as its flavors develop during cooking and it adds a rich color to your food.  Dark soy sauce has a longer aging process than the light soy sauce adding to its rich thickness and color.  In some cases, molasses is added to some dark soy.  

photo 1

I was first introduced to dark soya (as it is referred to in Thailand) sauce when my language instructor, Khun Alvi, took the Husband and I out to eat at a street noodle vender to practice our Thai.  It was our duty to order our food in Thai, if we didn’t…we didn’t eat.  The noodle cart was located on the steps of a closed day business on Soi Saam (3rd Road) and they served guay jop (big noodles) with crispy pork belly.  It was the crispy pork belly that came on a plate cut into bite sized pieces and had the dark soya sauce for dipping.  It was delicious!  If you use the dark soya sauce for dipping, a little goes a long way!

photo 2

I like the Pearl River Bridge brand.  I always have dark and light soy sauce in my pantry.  These two bottles are staples in any cook’s kitchen!

photo 3

The dark soy sauce compliments chicken very well.  Whenever I marinade chicken I always add a tablespoon of dark soy to my marinade.  I recently made Asian marinated chicken skewers and the dark soy completely transforms the flavors.

I think Asian cooking can be very intimidating.  I know it was to me, a Korean girl who was adopted and raised in an American household, but after I started learning about Asian dishes and ingredients it became less intimidating and more of a passion.  I hope this post has helped my fellow home cooks and foodies!

Cheers and happy eating!

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