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Ends Thursday: Supermarket Soy Sauce Is Mostly Salt Water—Try These Artisanal Brands Instead

Grocery store soy sauces have only one mass-produced flavor: salt. We prefer traditional soy sauces that are rich with umami, earthy depth and a natural sweetness, made by slowly fermenting soybeans and wheat over the course of months. Check out two of our top picks.

Today, much of the soy sauce produced in factories is made through a chemical process that uses soy protein instead of actual soybeans. Authentic Japanese shoyu (https://177milkstreet.us12.list-manage.com/track/click?u=27d86f080b903d5a8913aa032&id=37dd13f276&e=bbc6665f10) —which, unlike Chinese soy sauce, is made with wheat for a sweeter, rounder flavor—is brewed and fermented in cedar vats to produce complex umami flavors. Since any slight change in its preparation can greatly alter soy sauce’s final flavor, traditional producers tend to keep their specific methods a secret. We like the smooth and complex small-batch shoyus from fourth-generation family company Yugeta, based just outside Tokyo.
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Double brewing makes for a sweeter—not saltier—soy sauce.
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Yugeta Saishikomi Shoyu

To get a richer, deeper flavor and almost syrupy consistency, Yugeta brews this shoyu twice. After the first batch is fermented with soybeans, wheat, water, salt and koji—a special type of rice mold—the resulting shoyu is used as the brewing liquid for a second round of fermentation instead of salt and water. This process yields, surprisingly, a less salty yet concentrated final product that's balanced with caramelized sweet notes. It's ideal for dipping, but also brings a richer soy sauce flavor to recipes.

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With a light caramel hue, bright salinity and nutty undertones.

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Yugeta Organic Yuuki Shoyu

Traditionally aged in century-old cedar vats, this organic Japanese soy sauce is light-tasting without being too thin or watery, with a rounded, mouth-filling umami flavor and clear, bright salinity that quickly yields to a light nuttiness. Its clarity of flavor and clean finish are perfect for delicate foods like chicken and fish, as the shoyu won't overwhelm but rather enhance other flavors in a dish.
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Sambal, the Simple Yet Bold Southeast Asian Hot Sauce You'll Want to Use in Everything

Introducing Lime Leaf Sambal, a small-batch condiment that's unlike anything you've ever tasted, made with aromatic makrut lime and green chilies. Artisanal producer Auria's Malaysian Kitchen also makes a vibrant, red Hot Chili Sambal with a clear, bold chili flavor and fiery heat.
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