Tips cooking authentic chinese food soy sauce

Tips chinese food cooking soy sauce ingredients

Cooking Chinese food is relatively easy but it is the often unpublished tips that make them taste extra yummy and authentic. I will reveal these tips in several articles, starting from ingredients, utensils, all the way to cooking technique.

These are very down-to-earth tips. I hope you find it useful. As always, open mind and the right tips lead to yumminess.



Level: Very Easy

Main Tip: All are equal? No

Avoid: "Fake" Soy Sauce

  • How to spot: contains hydrolyzed soybean protein. Those small packets that come with your Chinese take-out contain this.

Go for: "Brewed" Soy Sauce

  • Real soy sauce is brewed and fermented

Types: Light to Dark

  • Dark = a tad more sweet and thicker with complex taste
  • Light = salty and thin with simple taste

Popular Brand

  • Kikkoman - find it in any grocery store
  • Kimlan - I personally use this. Great complex taste especially the "extra special" variety. Find it at your neighborhood asian store (Chinese/Korean/Vietnamese).
    Soy Sauce Kimlan


    Foundation of Taste

    Soy sauce is a foundation of taste. Just like other cuisine, yummy Chinese food is built upon layers of complex flavors. Choosing a flat soy sauce leads to well, not-so-tasty food. Worse, one can use the so-called "fake" soy sauce and really create a poor flavor.

    By now you know to never use the hydrolized soy protein stuff, no matter what.

    Flavor Development

    Brew and Age: Soy sauce develop its flavor from the ingredients that it uses, as well as how long it is brewed and aged. A good analogy is making coffee. Start with good bean, choose the right roast (light/med/dark), use correct amount, and brew according to your style (auto drip/french press/espresso,etc).

    Apply heat and caramelize: Believe it or not, soy sauce flavor is even more enhanced and developed when it is cooked. One key process that happens is caramelization. Make sense, right? There are naturally occuring sugar in soy sauce. Sugar + heat = caramel (yum).  

    Complex taste: Some of you may noticed that I kept talking about complex taste. What is it really? Let's use the example above. Ever compare the taste of sugar and caramel? Which one is more complex? Caramel of course. There, you just understand the concept of complex taste - very simple.

    I hope you find this encouraging. It would really great if you can cook Chinese food at home and be comfortable and knowledgeable about it, and at the same time produce yummy eats.