What is Tamari and How to Use It: Tamari Vs. Soy Sauce
If you’re a fan of Asian cuisine, you’ll know that soy sauce is a key ingredient for many of the most delectable dishes. Of course, if you have a sensitive stomach, or are predisposed to a digestive condition, you may prefer to learn a little more about tamari sauce as a substitute. For those who haven’t heard of tamari soy sauce or aren’t sure how this soy sauce alternative can benefit them, this article is exactly what you need. Below, we discuss the real difference between tamari and soy sauce, giving you all the information you could need – including the benefits of this soy sauce alternative, their nutritional value and why tamari is booming in popularity.
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What Is Tamari Sauce
While soy sauce is commonly known to hail from China, the soy sauce alternative of tamari comes from Japan, and both can be used in traditional Asian cooking. The two have very similar flavors – although those who work with “fine food” may disagree here – and which you should choose often comes down to a personal preference and, possibly, some medical reasoning.
What Is The Difference Between Tamari And Soy Sauce
Soy Sauce was produced as early as 200BC, during the Western Han Dynasty, where it quickly spread across the country. It was initially designed as a way to make salt last longer, during shortages or for monetary purposes – especially for those who traveled and needed to ensure an improved longevity for their meats and disposables.
Tamari sauce, on the other hand, was produced in Japan and the resulting mixture is a little thicker in viscosity and richer to taste. Here, tamari was initially a by-product of miso, and the closest variety to the Chinese soy sauce is referred to as tamari shoyu, to help distinguish the production processes.
As the two Asian sauces have very similar flavors, we decided to break down the list of ingredients, so you can better compare tamari and soy sauce options and decide which may be better for you. When it comes to tamari vs soy sauce, it’s often hard to tell through flavor alone – yet the results can still offer a range of different reactions in the body.
Soy Sauce Ingredients
Soy sauce is made up of only four ingredients: soybeans, wheat, salt and water – although each brand will source these ingredients from different areas, and use different ratios. This helps to keep the creation of this classic addition to Asian cooking to stay roughly the same throughout the ages, resulting in a simple yet delicious taste.
Tamari Sauce Ingredients
The main ingredients for tamari sauce is simply soybeans, salt and water. The addition of wheat is only made from time to time, with most producers opting to leave the wheat out altogether. This means that tamari sauce is a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce, making it ideal for those with a range of sensitivities or allergies.
Again, the ratios of soybeans, water and salt will differ from brand to brand, however your personal favorite will always come down to individual preferences. So, don’t be afraid to try a few different products out, as the thickness, strength and overall taste will therefore differ and be better suited to different meals.
Benefits of Using A Soy Sauce Replacement
The ingredients in soy sauce are the same as those which have been used for thousands of years, which gives your cooking an authentic taste. However, unlike soy sauce, you’ll find that tamari has the added benefit of using less wheat (if any), making it better suited for those with allergies. Tamari soy sauce has therefore been growing in popularity over the years, as those who are gluten intolerant, suffer from Celiac disease or simply want to lower their gluten intake have opted for Tamari over the traditional soy sauce.
There is another main benefit to using tamari instead of soy sauce, however. Namely, soy sauce can sometimes be mass produced without a natural process – which can mean that chemically processed with the addition of hydrochloric acid. While using this means that the process is shortened significantly from months to weeks, it also takes away from the taste, smell and overall health benefits of using soy sauce. This is especially true when you consider that extra salt, flavorings and colorings are often added to make up for the shortfall.
The result of this process means that you’re more likely to come into contact with carcinogens and other, negative compounds. While this can sometimes still be possible with tamari sauce, the likelihood of you coming across the “hydrolyzed soy protein” or “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” is much less. This is because the lack of wheat available in the initial ingredients means that less time is required to break down everything during the fermentation process, negating the need for quicker manufacturing. Of course, it is still possible, so do check that your tamari and traditional soy sauce uses the label “naturally brewed” when choosing your product.
How to Use Tamari Sauce
Because the flavor and final result is so close to traditional soy sauce, tamari sauce can be used in the same way that you might use the classic version. Some great examples include marinades, which can help to really stack your tofu or meat with a greater depth of flavor, before cooking.
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As tamari is a little thicker than standard soy sauce, it is often best used for dipping. This makes it an ideal accompaniment to sushi and sashimi dishes, where the rich flavor adds depth to the traditional fish dinners. It can, however, also be used as a seasoning, in which the tamari sauce is placed over food before roasting, or for use in stir fries and similar.
As you can see, the two different sauces are mostly interchangeable, and the end result comes down to how you prefer your cooking. Popular dishes using tamari sauce include teriyaki dishes, in which the lack of salt and thicker consistency lends itself well to ginger and garlic undertones.