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What Is Light Soy Sauce?

Soy beans.
Sushi is often served with light soy sauce.
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  • Written By: D. Coodin
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 11 April 2014
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Light soy sauce is a condiment of Chinese origin that is made with fermented soy beans, water, salt and other ingredients. Unlike dark soy sauce, which is a thick variety of soy sauce typically made with caramel and molasses, light soy sauce is thinner and is more commonly used as a dipping sauce than the dark variety. Although light soy sauce usually has a saltier flavor than dark, this is sometimes due to the other ingredients rather than the salt content itself. Consumers who are concerned with sodium intake should always read the nutritional information on soy sauce before purchasing. In addition to acting as a dipping sauce, light soy sauces can be used as seasoning and as a marinade for sushi and other foods.

One of the most common uses for this condiment is as a seasoning in stir-fry dishes. It is typically added to a wok full of stir-fried vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and snow peas, as well as meats, with the amount depending on a cook's particular taste. Light soy sauce can also be combined with other sauces such as oyster, plum, or black bean to make a thicker and more flavorful stir-fry seasoning. Another common use is to sprinkle a few drops over a bed of steamed white or brown rice before serving, giving it some extra flavor.

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Due to its salty and full taste, light soy sauce is a popular choice as a marinade for tofu or noodles. Cooks typically cut tofu into thin strips and soak it in soy sauce either overnight, or few a few hours before cooking. The tofu will absorb the sauce, giving it the salty flavor that many desire. In the same fashion, steamed noodles can be soaked in light soy sauce before being added to a wok or frying pan along with vegetables and meat.

Perhaps the most common use of light soy sauce is as a dipping sauce, in part because it has a smoother, less pungent flavor than its dark counterpart. Diners often dip dumplings in light soy sauce with a small amount of chopped garlic added for flavor. It is also a standard dipping sauce for sushi, a Japanese dish of vegetables and fish wrapped in rice and seaweed. Typically, the soy sauce is combined with a small amount wasabi before a piece of sushi is dipped into it generously.

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