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Soy sauce is made from a mixture of soy beans and wheat, barley or rice. Steamed and fermented soy beans are combined with roasted grains and mixed with a yeast mold. After an initial fermentation, a brine solution and additional yeast strains are introduced and the mixture is placed in large fermentation casks and left to mature. After maturing, the resulting liquid is filtered, producing soy oil and soy sauce.

While soy sauces vary from country to country, there are generally three main types of soy sauce: dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and sweetened soy sauce. Dark soy sauce, as the name implies is dark in color and is full flavored. Light soy sauce is lighter in terms of color but generally saltier than dark soy sauce. Light sauce is used often in cooking dishes such as seafood so that the soy sauce does not darken the color of the dish. Sweetened soy sauces are flavored with sugars and used frequently in Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine.

Varieties of Soy Sauce

Kecap Asin
A thick and salty dark soy sauce from Indonesia.

Kecap Hitam
Also called kecap kitam, kecap hitam is a Malaysian sweet, dark soy sauce similar to kecap hitam.

Kecap Manis
The Indonesian sweet dark soy sauce counterpart to kecap asin.

Mushroom Soy Sauce
A Chinese soy sauce flavored with straw mushrooms.

Koikuchi Shoyu
The “standard” Japanese soy sauce made from equal parts soy beans and wheat.

Usukuchi Shoyu
This “light” Japanese soy sauce is used frequently in cooking. The light color comes from a shorter maturation and higher salt content.