Shoyu Vs Soy Sauce Vs Tamari – Tell You The Differences

If you are familar with the Chinese cuisine and Japanese cuisine, shoyu, soy sauce, tamari may always come into your eyes. You may always confuse about them.

What are the differences between them? Don’t worry. Let’s get into the article and find out the answers.

Let’s talk about the differences first.

1. Origin

Soy sauce

Soy sauce is a Chinese sauce whose common name is Jiangyou, a liquid extracted from Jiang. It was invented approximately 2000 years ago, and it came to be because the salt in China was expensive and rare to find.

During the Hun dynasty error, the method of fermenting soybeans was discovered to extend the salt life.

Light Soy Sauce

Buddhism at the time had begun to pick popularity spread by the Indians.

Since most of them detested the practice of consuming any animal product hence, they came up with two varieties of sauce fish sauce and vegetarian-style soy sauce.


Shoyu, on the other hand, traces its origin back to China. There is no clarity of its existence in japan; however, there are a few histories we can pick on, possibly how shoyu was introduced to Japan.

In the 1580s, in the town of Yuasa in the kushuu area, a manufacturer named Tamai Hishio started the shoyu business and spread it to the rest of Japan.

Light Soy Sauce


Tamari is believed to have originated in Chinese but gained its prominence in japan in the 7th century.

Tamari is made from 100% soybean but in some instances, it also contains wheat but in small quantities.

Hence it is the liquid product that forms during the production of miso paste.

Tamari Soy Sauce

2. The difference in the ingredients

Soy sauce is made from merging wheat salt and soybean, which are then brewed collectively and left to ferment. The combo is then squeezed to release the soy sauce. It is essentially a by-product of soybean and wheat.

Shoyu is a Japanese soy sauce that is considered as the modern version of the Chinese soy sauce. This is because, unlike the Chinese sauce that uses soybean and little wheat, the shoyu sauce ratio of soybean to wheat is almost half this resulting in a lighter version of the soy.

Tamari is considered an excellent option for gluten-free as it is made from 100% soya bean.

3. Difference in flavor

Tamari is packed with an umami flavor that brings out the rich flavor. Compared to soy sauce, Tamari has less salt, a deeper color, and a thicker texture. Which makes it perfect for marinating or sautéing  

Shoyu is simply a darker Japanese sauce (usukuchi) or lighter (Kikuchi). This Japanese-style soy sauce is much sweeter and has a more pronounced flavor compared to the Chinese style, which is salty. They are pretty thin and more evident and are suitable for use in all-purpose cooking and table sauce.

What is shoyu

Shoyu sauce is a Japanese style of Chinese soy sauce; hence it traces its origin in china which was later adopted in japan.

Unfortunately, there Is no clear description of how the soy sauce traveled to japan from china, but it is said it gained its prominence around 1580 during the tensho era, in a region called Kansai.

Soy Sauce Fried Rice

At the time, a company known as tamari soy sauce began selling soy sauce and miso paste in Osaka.

Eventually, the soy sauce began to be shipped to another region of japan hence accelerating its popularity.

How is shoyu sauce made?

Shoyu sauce is a Japanese word for soy sauce commonly used for dipping in sauces and cooking. Traditionally soybean is made by first soaking soybean in water then roasting and crushing the wheat.

The soybean and wheat are then combined with a culturing mold known as aspergillus and given a maximum of 3 days to mature. Next, water and salt are added, and the mixture is left to ferment for five to 8 months.

Soy Sauce Chicken Wings

After the aging process is done, the mixture is laid on a cloth and squeezed to release the liquid. Finally, the liquid is pasteurized to kill any bacterium that might have infected it, and then it is transferred to the bottle where it is branded and packed, ready for sale.

The chemical method is a faster and cheap way of producing. The method is known as acid hydrolysis; it produces soy sauce in a few days; however, the end products luck things such as the taste aroma derived from the one produced by the traditional. Extra color, flavor, and taste are added to the sauce to make it look authentic.

Types of shoyu sauce

Light sauce

In Japan, it is known as usukuchi, and its total gross production amounts to 13% .due  to its short fermentation period, the sauce is lighter than Kikuchi.

It contains an 18% salt concentration and has less fragrance and less taste compared to dark soy sauce.


It is known as white sauce, and the total production is under 1%. The variety is mainly made with steamed wheat with additional soy sauce but small quantities.

Among the five sauces, Shiro has the lightest color. It has a lower proportion of umami with a high concentration of salt that is rich up to 18%. Thanks to its white color, it makes part of most original food hence used as a secret ingredient by most chefs.

Dark sauce

The most frequently produced soy sauce in japan also goes with the name koikuchi. It accounts for 80% of the total soy production in Japan.

It is made from the same ratio of wheat to soybean. It consists of 16% salt and counters aroma flavor and color.


It accounts for 1% of the total soy sauce production. It is dark in color and has rich umami and taste as compared to the rest of the soy sauces.

Instead of adding salt, this sauce is made by combining unheated soy sauce called kiage shoyu. It is expensive compared to the rest and best used for sushi and sashimi.


Tamari ages the longest as it takes almost a year to be ready for use. It accounts for 2% of the total production. Tamari is mainly made from soybean. It has umami and is rich in flavor and tastes. It is used in foods such as raw fish, rice crackers like okai, and in sashimi.

What is soy sauce

It is an essential Asian condiment made by brewing four ingredients saltwater, soybean, and wheat. Soy sauce comes in different forms, like fermented or the chemically produced soy sauce.

Soy Sauce

The fermented soy sauce comes in different forms. Some are sweet, dark, light, and salty, and their difference is based on the viscosity, umami flavor, and sweetness.

The light soy sauce is characterized by having an umami flavor. The saltiness is equally light and thin. To achieve the light sauce, you have to press the fermented soybean. Dark soy sauce is dark and less salty. It is produced by adding brine. This is after pressing the soybean.

The Chinese soy sauce does not contain wheat. This makes it further thicker darker, and has a strong taste.

The Japanese soy sauce uses an equal amount of soybeans and wheat. They have five varieties of soy sauce, namely Dark soy sauce or koikuchi-shoyu, Light soy sauce, or usukuchi-shoyu: Tamari soy sauce or tamari-soy, White soy sauce, or Shiro-should  Double-fermented soy sauce or saishikomi-shoyu.

Who invented soy sauce?

Soy sauce is believed to have been invented first in China 2000yrs  ago. The roots traced to an ancient sauce called Jan in  China town.

To preserve the food, they would add salt to the grains wheat and soybean, which were developed to make soy sauce.

Cantonese soya sauce chicken

There is no precise time when the sauce was introduced to Japan, but it was known as Hishio, which in modern terms is the midway between soy sauce and miso paste. A Buddhist monk in Japan introduced the sauce, and from there, it spread to the rest of the world.

Health benefits of soy sauce

Soy sauce can be used in a  wide variety of dishes, depending on the production style, either natural or chemical. It has benefits that are good for health and other properties. The natural one has more health benefits compared to the chemical ones, but more studies are being developed on the same, but in moderation, soy sauce can be enjoyed.

  1. Contains antioxidant

When taken in the appropriate amount, soy sauce has antioxidant properties drawing it from the presence of carbohydrates that has tiny dark pigments called melanonids. As a result, it helps to reduce inflammation during digestion and hence bars you from getting heart disease cancer and reduces the aging rate.

  1. Containtains antiallergen

During the fermentation process, soy sauce produces polysaccharides, a potent antiallergen ability. It is said that humans who are often attacked with some forms of allergy when they ingest a substantial amount of soy sauce exhibited significant improvement; however, more scientific studies are underway to prove this right.

  1. Excellent for promoting digestion

The presence of microorganisms used during the fermentation process has essential elements for digestion. For example, a study on Japanese soy sauce shows that a  clear cup of soy sauce improves digestion. It also lowers the number of bacterial strains in the stomach and intestines.

  1. Used  instead of salt

High sodium content can be the primary reason for having cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the ability to use soy sauce to replace sodium is essential for both the customer and the food industry.

How to reduce sodium in soy

The quantity of salt one chooses to put in the broth stew or soup is a  personal business. To some individuals, the soup with lots of sodium is deemed perfectly seasoned, whereas it may be too much to others.

But then there are common blunders that happen while in the kitchen, and over-seasoning of salt is one of them. While at the kitchen, you have to learn to be open to eventualities while at the same time being confident to fix the broth is vital. Here will learn how to reduce sodium in soy sauce.

  1. Add some sweet ingredients.

The sweet ingredients, in this case, include syrup, honey, maple, and sugar. The aim is to add the ingredient bit by bit to the soy sauce to balance the taste; hence, as you add, say, honey, you have to taste while adding until the results balance perfectly.

  1. Add unsalted liquid

Adding unsalted liquid to your broth best suits the generally wet foods, like soup or stew. It is easy to have additional milk, wine, water, or cream to balance the sodium. It’s also advisable to use flavourful liquids or the ones that can add some zest to your food.

  1. Use any starch

In this case, you can add par-cooked or uncooked potatoes to the soy sauce as the starchy nature of the potatoes will suck out the excess salt, and potatoes are also neutral; hence they won’t interfere with the flavors.

You have to put in chunks of potatoes and let them simmer with soy sauce for a few minutes. Don’t forget to taste before serving. Adding potatoes is especially favorable with a soy sauce dish that contains a lot of sodium.

  1. Choose the defense way.

When preparing any dish that is store bought, especially stock which is either meat or vegetable-based take note as they all come seasoned with salt; hence when the broth reduces as the dish is cooked, the final result will be salty.

Since you need to add some ingredients like soy sauce and miso to make, you have to act the defense way by not adding any sodium until you have tasted.

  1. Use acid ingredients to the flavor.

Add acid to your soy sauce dish may contain balance the sauce’s saltiness. Preferably you can use lemon juice, orange or drizzle citric acid or sprinkle mild vinegar like apple cider or white wine. The acidity and sourness add some complex flavor to your broth, which masks the salt. By using citric, you won’t have to add liquid.

  1. Avoid seasoning the side dish.

Sometimes you might cook food containing soy sauce and add some salt only to realize the food is ready but is overly seasoned. In such a case, you might consider counterbalancing the sodium by not necessarily adding ingredients, as some might interfere with the flavor. Still, you can make a  side dish with no sodium.

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