Soy sauce is one of the essential staples to have in your pantry. It is a liquid condiment whose roots are said to come all the way from China. Soy sauce is made using fermented soybeans. It is full of flavor, which makes it great for seasoning a variety of dishes such as noodles and curry items. Soy sauce may also be called soya sauce or even Shoyu, which is Japanese-style soy sauce.
Soy sauce can stay in a good condition in your pantry or in your refrigerator for a couple of years. You may notice that a bottle of soy sauce that you bought two years ago is still fresh and potent. Hence, many home cooks have one question in mind when it comes to this liquid condiment - does soy sauce go bad? If you are curious to find out the answer, give this article a read to learn more about this ancient Asian condiment.
What Does Soy Sauce Taste Like?
As stated before, soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans so you will definitely get the taste of soybeans. The dominant flavor notes of soy sauce are umami and salt. It may also taste slightly sweet and a bit bitter.
Is Soy Sauce Healthy?
Soy sauce does have some health benefits. For instance, soy sauce is a rich source of antioxidants, which helps to protect against diseases and improve both brain and heart function. It contains isoflavones, which help to reduce symptoms of menopause. Isoflavones may also be effective in preventing age-related diseases such as heart disease or osteoporosis.
However, soy sauce contains a very high amount of sodium so it is advised to consume it in small amounts daily. Each tablespoon of soy sauce may contain up to 878.9 mg of sodium, which can increase your blood pressure and the chances of a stroke.
Soy sauce may not be the healthiest of liquid condiments due to its high sodium content. If you are adding soy sauce to noodles or curry, you may want to refrain from adding additional salt for seasoning.
What Is Soy Sauce Used For?
In most kitchens, soy sauce is used on a daily basis. It is great with noodles and curry but you can experiment with other foods as well. It is great for giving any dish a boost of flavor. There are many different ways you can incorporate soy sauce into your food.
If you are hosting a sushi night, you can keep a small bowl of soy sauce on the table for dipping sushi. However, soy sauce is not just for sushi, it is a staple in other dishes as well. For instance, you can marinate meat such as beef, chicken, pork, or even fish using soy sauce. You can add a small amount of soy sauce to the marinade to balance out the acidity of the vinegar or lemon used in the marinade.
You can make a delicious salad dressing using soy sauce as well. You can add a pinch of soy sauce to salads or cooked vegetables in order to enhance the flavors. It will definitely upgrade your salad bar. Moreover, soy sauce works well with thick stews and soups as well. You can prepare soupy ramen with a poached egg on top.
Soy sauce can also be used as a substitute for salt. You can use a 1:1 substitution ratio. If you are adding soy sauce to the dish, you might not have to add additional amounts of salt for seasoning.
Can Soy Sauce Be Made At Home?
Instead of buying store-bought soy sauce that tends to contain very high amounts of sodium, you can easily make soy sauce at home. All you need is a few ingredients such as soybeans, wheat flour, and koji. Although the process requires very few ingredients, it is quite time-consuming.
The first step is to wash the soybeans to get rid of impurities. You can use four cups of soybeans here. After washing, you are instructed to soak the beans in water for up to 24 hours. For four cups of soybeans, you may use around eighteen cups of water.
After soaking the soybeans in water for one whole day, you will turn them into a mash. In this step, you will drain out the excess water and cook the soybeans in the same pot for 4-5 hours on medium-high heat. If you want to speed up the process, you may use a pressure cooker. Once the soybeans are cooked, you can easily mash them into a paste. You may use a food processor, a blender, or even a traditional mortar and pestle to mash the cooked soybeans.
Then, combine four cups of wheat flour with the mashed soybeans. You should knead it thoroughly till the wheat flour and the mashed soybeans blend completely with each other. In this step, you should not add any extra water to prevent the dough from becoming too thin.
In the fourth step, you are instructed to add koji to the dough. Koji is a bacterial culture that is used to ferment the dough. You should spread the soybean paste on a tray and let it sit in a warm and humid place for 2 days. Then, transfer the dried soy blocks into a jar and pour brine water over them to begin the fermentation process. You are recommended to stir the liquid at least once a week for the next six or twelve months. Toward the end of the fermentation process, you will notice a change in both color and odor.
The last step is to strain the liquid using a cheesecloth. Then, heat the liquid at 79°C for 20 minutes. Once the liquid cools down, you should place the jar in the refrigerator in a tightly covered bottle. This liquid is called soy sauce. If you want a stronger flavor, you should ferment it for at least a year.
Check out this video to learn how to make soy sauce at home:
Different Types Of Soy Sauce
Soy sauce can be categorized into three broad groups. They are:
1. Dark Soy Sauce
Dark soy sauce has both an intense flavor and color. The dark color and the strong soy aroma are the result of a longer fermentation process, usually more than 6 months. The consistency is thicker than light soy sauce.
Dark soy sauce is mainly used for cooking. You can make soy sauce chicken, red-cooked pork, or even Mongolian beef using dark soy sauce in the marinade. You can also use dark soy sauce to make stir-fried rice and noodles. It is important to note that dark soy sauce will stain the food so your meat, rice, or noodles will have a deep mahogany color.
2. Light Soy Sauce
Unlike dark soy sauce, light soy sauce does not stain the food. It adds saltiness to the dish but the soy flavor is not very eminent. In comparison, light soy sauce tastes saltier than dark soy sauce so you might want to add small amounts to your dish at first.
Light soy sauce can be used for both cooking and seasoning. You can add light soy sauce in marinades for chicken, pork, or other poultry. You can also add light soy sauce to salads, soups, and stews.
3. Sweet Soy SauceSweet soy sauce or “Kecap Manis” is a mixture of soy sauce and sugar. It is quite a popular condiment in Indonesia and it is versatile in use. You can use it for cooking, seasoning, or for glazing. You can add sweet soy sauce to the marinade for grilled chicken or steak. You can use it as a salad dressing. You can also use it to add a glaze effect to the chicken after cooking
Does Soy Sauce Go Bad?
Although soy sauce has a long shelf life, it is still a perishable condiment which means that it may go bad in the long run.
If your soy sauce has gone bad, it will smell a bit off and the color or texture may look different. The taste will also be different. Soy sauce has a salty flavor naturally. If the soy sauce has gone bad, it might taste a lot more bitter than before. You might also sense that it has become too acidic now.
What Is The Right Way Of Storing Soy Sauce?
You can keep a bottle of unopened soy sauce in your pantry for as long as you want. It is safe to keep one for as long as two or three years or even more. The flavor or aroma of the soy sauce is unlikely to be affected. If you plan on keeping your bottle of unopened soy sauce in your pantry, make sure to keep it away from direct sunlight. It is best to keep the soy sauce in a cool, dark place.
You can leave an opened bottle of soy sauce in your pantry at room temperature for up to one year. However, we highly recommend that you place the bottle of soy sauce in your refrigerator in order to retain its natural flavor and aroma for a longer period of time.It might be a wise move to transfer the soy sauce into an airtight dispenser if you plan on storing the soy sauce at room temperature.
Soy sauce has a distinct umami taste that helps to add flavor to any dish without having to add additional amounts of salt. Soy sauce goes well with many different cuisines, be it Chinese, Japanese, or even Korean.
While soy sauce has a long shelf life, it has the potential to go bad like all perishable goods. A good rule of thumb to follow in the kitchen is to smell every ingredient before adding it to your food. You can easily tell if the soy sauce has gone bad by just sniffing it - it will produce a very acidic, odd smell. However, this case is very rare.