Some dishes call for seasoned soy sauce rather than regular soy sauce. While regular light soy sauce would work in a pinch, seasoned Chinese soy sauce can give food something special.
This short article will explain what it is, how it is used, and where you can buy some at your neighborhood Chinese grocery store.
What is Seasoned Soy Sauce?
Depending on the variety of soy sauce, it may contain additional seasonings to boost its flavor—for instance, aromatics like galangal and star anise flavor Indonesian sweet soy sauce (kecap manis).
But the seasoned soy sauce we’re discussing here is Chinese seasoned soy sauce (zhēng yú chǐ yóu), typically used in Cantonese and Southern Chinese cuisine for steamed fish and seafood dishes. That’s why you’ll see phrases like “Seasoned Soy Sauce for Seafood” on the bottle.
Compared to unseasoned light soy sauce, this seasoned variety is sweeter and has more umami.
Depending on who you ask, this is either a good or bad thing because it’s essentially a Chinese light soy sauce with sugar and MSG (or other MSG-like flavor enhancers like disodium guanylate) added to it. A minority of chefs have no problem using MSG, while the majority avoid it.
What Is It For?
It is typically combined with ginger, scallions, cilantro, and oil to create light Cantonese sauces for steamed seafood and fish dishes.
The sweetness of the sauce complements the dishes’ delicate and unadulterated taste. A little extra MSG doesn’t ruin the taste, either. Soups and dipping sauces can benefit from it as well.
It can be substituted for light soy sauce in most recipes, but it must be added at the end of cooking. If overcooked, the umami flavor will be diminished.
Don’t worry if you don’t have any seasoned soy sauce on hand for our seafood dishes. When using regular light soy sauce, the results are identical.
Buying and Storing
Find a bottle of soy sauce that says “Seasoned Soy Sauce for Seafood” on the label.
Kikkoman, along with Lee Kum Kee and Pearl River Bridge, makes the cut. Typically, we have a small bottle of the Pearl River Bridge brand stashed away in the pantry (usually because they sometimes bundle a small bottle of it with their light soy sauce, which we buy all the time).
Put away in a pantry or other dry, cool spot. Keeping it cold is unnecessary.
Replacements For Flavored Soy Sauce
Substitute light soy sauce for one whenever possible to avoid adding artificial flavor enhancers, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG). You can also use sugar to achieve a similar flavor.