While I was reading up on soy sauce in Easy Eats, a gluten-free magazine, I was surprised to learn that there are several different types of soy sauces throughout East and Southeast Asia, each with a unique taste, fragrance and consistency. Between China and Japan alone there are at least seven major varieties of soy sauce!
Having grown up on a gluten-free diet, I’m pretty well versed in what foods have wheat and what foods don’t, so I was also pretty surprised to read that one of the main ingredients in most soy sauces is wheat. At the store and in restaurants, if the label doesn’t say ‘gluten-free’ you can expect most sauces to contain a half-and-half mixture of soy and wheat, along with salt and sugar. In terms of flavor, the wheat content adds a sweeter taste.
Don’t fret though, for people who have celiac disease or those who choose a gluten-free lifestyle, there are many delicious options to drizzle over sushi and rice. Tamari, hydrolyzed soy sauce and darker, thicker sauces used in China and Malaysia are the main alternatives to traditional koikuchi-style Japanese soy sauce. San-J and Eden tamari sauces are gluten free, as well as La Choy hydrolyzed soy sauce. Going out to eat? Consider stocking up on Kari-Out's Panda Brand Low Sodium Gluten Free Soy Sauce. Or skip the store and try making your own soy-free concoction by combining 8 parts molasses, 3 parts balsamic vinegar and sugar to taste.