Soy sauce: a versatile ingredient your kitchen needs

Soy sauce can be used as an alternative to salt in many recipes. l PEXELS/ALLEKSANA

Soy sauce can be used as an alternative to salt in many recipes. l PEXELS/ALLEKSANA

Published Jun 25, 2024


Do you only think of sushi and stir fry when you think of soy sauce? If sushi night is the only time you bust out your bottle of this sauce, you are missing out on many flavour opportunities.

By working soy sauce into your regular ingredient rotation, you can give your meals the flavour boost you have been craving.

What is soy sauce?

Soy sauce is a liquid sauce made from soybeans and grains and originates from Asia. The sauce is made through a fermentation process and ends in a pasteurisation process before it is bottled.

Some soy sauces are aged before they are packaged.It is a dark brown, almost black colour and is a relatively thick liquid. Some variations are lighter in colour and some are low-sodium.

Soy sauce can be used in place of salt in many recipes. It can be used to add seasoning and flavour to stir-fries, marinades and dipping sauces as well as to add colour and depth of flavour to stocks and sauces.

No matter what you are in the mood for, these five ways to use soy sauce should have you covered.

Use for seasoning meals

Soy sauce is naturally salty, so it makes a great substitute for salt. In any situation where you would add some salt, try shaking some soy sauce over the food instead.

Bolognese sauce, chilli con carne, scrambled egg, shepherd’s pie, soups, chips, ramen noodles, Korean fried chicken – you name it, give it a try.

When making your Sunday roast, brush your chicken with soy sauce before you pop it in the oven for a crispy finish or add some soy sauce to the gravy. The bonus is that soy sauce doesn’t just add saltiness, it adds that deep, rich umami flavour.

Salad dressing

There aren’t any hard and fast rules about how much soy to use, but generally, one tablespoon of soy sauce for every tablespoon of oil works well.

Simply add some acid by way of citrus juice or vinegar and your choice of fresh herbs or spices. Fresh ginger and garlic are also good.

Create a savoury butter

If there is one thing that makes anything better, it’s butter. It makes cakes creamier, pastries fluffier, and sauces, well, more buttery. Want to make butter even better?

Add a few drops of soy sauce into softened butter – try one part soy to two parts butter – and blend together.

The result? A total buttery delight, great on toast, brushed over veggies, melted in a pan for grilling or stir-frying or basted over meats.

Soy sauce adds delicious flavour to egg dishes. l PEXELS/ALLEKSANA

Make glaze

Soy sauce can be used to make a quick glaze. A glaze is a thickened sauce that's brushed onto a dish at some point during or after the cooking process to add some extra flavour.

If there is some amount of sugar in the glaze (as is often the case) it can help caramelise the surface of the food. A good example of this is meatloaf glazed with honey BBQ sauce and baked in the oven. When the sugar in the barbecue sauce heats up in the oven, it sticks to the meatloaf and caramelises on the surface.

Use in soups and stews

Ever been disappointed by a thin, tasteless broth? You never have to worry about dull soups and stews again when you add soy sauce to the recipe.

Seasoning your broth with a touch of soy sauce will give the soup a richness that brings out its inherent flavours. The ingredient goes especially well with thick stews and other meaty braises because it adds another layer of depth and complexity to an already savoury dish.