Food Ideas

The Must-Have Sauces In Your Kitchen

Sa'idah Jaffar | January 26, 2018

Soy sauce is to Asian recipes what salt is to Western ones. It is a basic ingredient that is generally made from fermented soy beans, water and salt.

There are many different styles to suit different tastes and cuisines. Classic Chinese recipes, for example, favour a light soy while Japanese dishes often incorporate Shoyu for an intense umami flavour.

There are huge differences in the quality of soy sauces as well. A good soy sauce can be identified by “naturally brewed” or similar wording. Some brands take short cuts by using chemicals and various additives to make up for the lack of flavour and colour, but these do not compare with the real thing.

Other than soy sauces, oyster sauce and fish sauce are also commonly used. Read on to learn which are the ones to stock in your kitchen.

Text: The Australian Women’s Weekly

the wok of life

1. Light soy sauce
Also known as Chinese soy, light soy sauce has a lighter colour, is thinner in consistency and very salty. It is generally used as seasoning during cooking.

Photo: The Woks of Life


2. Dark soy sauce
This sauce is more common in Southeast Asia and has caramel added to it, making it darker and more flavourful. It is used as a table condiment, in dipping sauces and for marinating.

Photo: Pinterest


3. Japanese Soy Sauce

Also known as Shoyu, the Japanese variety is comprised of wheat in addition to soy beans, water and salt. It is milder and adds a full-bodied flavour known as “umami” to dishes.

Photo: Recipe Tin Eats

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4. Tamari

This sauce is a thick Japanese-style soy sauce made from soy beans and rice. It is usually gluten-free, though those with a wheat tolerance should still check the label. It is less salty than other soy sauces, making it ideal for dipping sauces (especially for sushi).

Photo: Amano Foods

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5. Kecap Manis

Hailing from Indonesia, this soy sauce has a thick and rich texture and is often used in many Southeast Asian recipes. Its sweet and heavy texture adds a flavourful kick to dishes.

Photo: Kellies Food To Glow



6. Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is made from fermented oyster extract and has a rich and savoury flavour with a caramel note. As with soy, there are good and poor oyster sauces, and the quality greatly affects the flavour. Premium versions have a high percentage of oyster extract, while lower quality sauces use artificial flavouring. Price is generally a good indicator of quality and it’s been touted as a great way to lower your salt intake.

Photo: Serious Eats

vicky wasik

7. Fish Sauce

Fish is used by Southeast Asian cooks as a universal seasoning in the same way as soy sauce is used by Chinese and Japanese cooks. It is very smelly, but its pungency disappears when it meets other ingredients and it becomes a wonderful seasoning and flavour enhancer.

Photo: Vicky Wasik

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