Korean Soup Soy Sauce.
You've probably seen listed as an ingredient in many Korean soup or stew recipes.
But is it really different from "regular" Korean soy sauce?
More importantly, is it worth buying a bottle?
Well, let's compare the two:
The first difference is color.
As you can see, Soup Soy Sauce is lighter in color than regular Soy Sauce. This is important as Korean soups are typically clear or light in color. A lighter-colored soy sauce is preferred when seasoning broth.
The second difference is salinity.
Soup Soy Sauce is much saltier than Soy Sauce. Thus, you use less Soup Soy Sauce to season. Again, less sauce means a lighter colored broth.
The third difference is taste.
Soup soy sauce has a slightly different taste. It has more umami than regular soy sauce.
So, how is Korean Soup Soy Sauce made?
Soup Soy Sauce is unique to Korea.
Korea has had its own traditional way of making soy sauce - for over 1000 years. Soup Soy Sauce is actually a by-product of making Doenjang (fermented soybean paste).
(Image Source: Naver Blog)
Here's an (simplified) overview of how Korean Soup Soy Sauce is made:
- Soybeans are initially soaked and then mashed into a paste. Then paste is shaped into bricks (called Meju blocks) and dried in the open for a few months. The bricks naturally ferment and cultivate many enzymes.
- After a few months, the bricks are given a quick wash and then placed into large clay jars called Hangari. Then a salty brine is added to the jar to kick off another round of fermentation. The two ferment together for a few months in the jar.
- Over the next few months, the soybean paste begins to break down. And a salty dark liquid is produced - this is what we call Korean Soup Soy Sauce.
Should I buy a bottle?
If you plan to regularly cook Korean soups or stews, then yes - it is worth buying!
It always tasted either slightly bland or too salty. I realized it was because I was using regular soy sauce to season at the very end.
Regular soy sauce overpowers the subtle flavor of light Korean soup broths.
Which brand should I buy?
The best-selling Soup Soy Sauce in Korea is made by Chung Jung One (show below). I have been using it for over a decade - it's great. (And no, this is not a sponsored advertisement). Simply sharing what we like and use!
Note: These three Chung Jung One products are actually the same. The company switches up the label design from time-to-time. So if you see any of them at the Korean mart, go for it!
Daniel out! 🕺
Next, if you are curious how to distinguish between low and high-quality Korean Soy Sauces, click here.