Soy sauce is the ultimate store cupboard essential, with distinctive, punchy, umami, fermented flavours that are integral to much Asian cooking.
But how do you re-create those salty, savoury umami depths if you've run out of your favourite bottle, or you're looking for a gluten-free alternative? We look at seven of the best alternatives below.
What is soy sauce?
Shoyu specifically refers to Japanese soy sauce and is made from fermented soy with added toasted wheat, water, salt and particular fungi called Aspergillus sp. Find out more about how soy sauce is made.
Soy sauce also comes in different grades and complexities, ranging from super-salty, to mildly sweet, and from dark brown to light brown.
How to use soy sauce
In Japan, soy sauce is traditionally used in a number of dishes and alongside sushi or sashimi. But those deep, umami, savoury flavours are just at home in dipping sauces, marinades, seasoning vegetables or adding extra depth of flavour and colour to soups and stews.
We take a look at some of the best soy sauce alternatives below:
Best soy sauce alternatives
Tamari is also a soy sauce, although darker, less salty, and wheat-free, which gives it a richer, deeper flavour than standard soy sauce. Tamari sauce is great as a dipping sauce or marinade.
For a non-soy-based alternative, try coconut aminos - made from fermented coconut tree sap and sea salt. It's a little sweeter and milder than soy sauce, and has a significantly lower sodium content.
Liquid aminos is also a milder and slightly sweeter alternative to soy sauce, as well as being gluten-free and vegan, being made from soybeans and water. The flavour is comparable to soy sauce, lending itself as a direct substitute.
This flavoursome, fermented sweet, salty and savoury condiment is equally at home in a bloody Mary or on bubbling hot cheese on toast; but it's also a great, punchy soy sauce replacement.
Worcestershire sauce has a base of vinegar and is packed with umami-rich ingredients like anchovies, molasses, tamarind, onion, garlic and other seasonings.
Miso is made with very similar ingredients to soy sauce, making it a natural alternative. Made with soybeans fermented with salt and kōji, it also expresses deep umami flavours. Simply dilute the paste with water and use it as you usually would soy sauce.
This intense condiment made from fermented and salted fish should be used more sparingly than soy, but it still delivers on all those rich umami flavours.
A ubiquitous seasoning, salt is a great way to enhance flavour and mirror the high sodium content of soy sauce. While it can replace the salty depths of soy sauce, those umami notes will be missing.
Tamari, coconut aminos, liquid aminos, Worcestershire sauce, miso paste, fish sauce and salt are just a few of the best examples of ingredients capable of successfully replacing soy sauce in cooking. From gluten-free and vegan, to flavourful and fermented, there's an ingredient to appeal to all diets and tastes, so just take your pick.
Mythrayie Iyer from India was declared the winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition 2022-23 Regional Final for Africa, Middle East and South Asia (AMESA) held in Cape Town, South Africa.
Rather than just being faux-meat, Mamu is different. It's a mushroom-based meat alternative that's getting its launch in restaurants so that chefs can test its versatility. Flora Tsapovsky investigates.