Have you been cooking your favorite soy sauce based dishes and realized that they did not taste the same as before?
It had been bugging me for some time a few years back. Adobo doesn’t taste the same. Steamed fish with soy sauce doesn’t taste the same, either. The soy sauce was too harsh, for lack of a better word. The soy sauce had no nuance, no depth.
FAKE VS. REAL SOY SAUCE
Then while researching something called liquid aminos, I came across an article that talked about the different kinds of soy sauces. I learned that some manufacturers have been making FAKE soy sauce and marketing them as the real thing! Yes, many of the popular brands of soy sauce here in the Philippines don’t sell real soy sauce!
What they do is just make a concoction with salt, water, some protein extract, flavor enhancers and coloring! They call this the “chemical method” of making soy sauce. This process only takes 2-3 days. This makes it much, much cheaper to produce.
REAL SOY SAUCE IS NATURALLY BREWED AND FERMENTED FROM SOYBEANS. The entire process takes months and results in a much more flavorful product.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR SOY SAUCE IS THE REAL THING
My friend S and I were talking about food, I can’t remember about what anymore, and I just mentioned the fake soy sauce in passing. She asked me more about it so I told her all about fake soy sauce. Being someone who was careful about her health, I was surprised that she had not heard about this whole fake soy sauce thing.
Once she read all about it, she asked me what brands were okay, and had her mom buy real soy sauce immediately!
As for myself, before reading about fake soy sauce, it had never even occurred to me that anyone would even try to fake it because it’s so ubiquitous and so cheap!
I am writing this blog post to inform my readers about fake soy sauce, since I realized that many people may not know that they are buying fake soy sauce.
SO, THIS IS HOW TO TELL IF YOUR SOY SAUCE IS AUTHENTIC:
It should say NATURALLY BREWED somewhere on the label.
Read the ingredients list. You can’t really tell based on the ingredients alone, because chemically produced soy sauce and traditionally brewed soy sauce basically have the same ingredients. But if you see “soy bean extract”, that could be a clue that it was not brewed. It means they did not actually ferment soy beans but just added an extract.
This is the ingredients list of a chemically-produced soy sauce:
If you are asking why we have this fake soy sauce at home, it is because my sister made a mistake. She couldn’t find the Coconut Brand that I requested, and she thought that this well-known brand was authentic. It is not. This brand has another, harder to find soy sauce product that is naturally brewed, but the regular stuff of theirs that you find on supermarket shelves is NOT naturally brewed.
I don’t know when local soy sauce producers started making chemical soy sauces instead of the real thing.
HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF REAL, NATURALLY BREWED SOY SAUCES
Fake soy sauces taste like crap. Maalat na mapakla na walang lasa. Naturally brewed soy sauces taste so much better and have a more complex flavor. They have that zing, a certain salty tartness, malinamnam.
These are the actual soy sauces that we have at home. This is not a sponsored post. This is what we really have at home. As you can see, the soy sauces are used!
Here are the the ingredients for the Lee Kum Kee soy sauces:
Oh, we also have some Kikkoman, but we mostly use it for dips and not for actual cooking, so I forgot to include it in the picture.
Note: Some people have been telling me that Lee Kum Kee soy sauce has sugar and MSG listed on the ingredients. I am not promoting nor defending LKK soy sauce, this is just what we have at home right now. It is difficult to find naturally brewed soy sauce so I bought this based on price and also because it met the criteria of being naturally brewed. We use a lot of LKK brand sauces at home like Hoisin Sauce, Sesame Oil, so I picked a brand I was familiar with.
The Lee Kum Kee bottles were about P60-P70 per 500 ml bottle, if I recall. Really not that expensive, but still expensive enough that I only use them for special dishes and for when I am the one doing the cooking.
That is why we also have the Coconut Brand soy sauce. This one is only P229.95 for the entire 1 gallon jug. We bought this at S&R. I saw this at other supermarkets and it was around P255, P25 more expensive!
This is what I use for soy sauce heavy dishes like adobo or pata tim. The Lee Kum Kee is lighter than Coconut Brand. I don’t want to use up the whole bottle of Lee Kum Kee just for one dish, you know? I usually cook a double batch and freeze the extra for another meal.
The Coconut brand soy sauce is also the one we use for regular cooking. I really don’t think our helper will appreciate the superior qualities, and price, of the Lee Kum Kee. She will most likely just use it like it was regular soy sauce. Sayang naman! So when she’s cooking our daily food, she uses the Coconut Brand. It’s a good soy sauce but it’s inexpensive enough that I really won’t mind how much she uses.
DON’T BUY FAKE SOY SAUCE ANYMORE
Last time I checked, the price for the fake soy sauce was about P110 for half a gallon jug. It’s only a very small price difference with Coconut Brand’s price. It’s not even double or triple the price.
Barat ako but I would rather pay a little extra and get the real soy sauce. The fake soy sauce will just leave you wondering why your adobo doesn’t taste as good as it used to. It will make you disappointed and waste all the time, ingredients and effort you put into your cooking!
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The Barat Queen
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