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Cooking Q&A: Tamari vs. Soy Sauce?

What's the difference between tamari and soy sauce?


Although soy sauce and tamari [tuh-MAHR-ee] are both made from fermented soybeans, Japanese tamari is thicker, darker, and richer than its counterpart. Think of it as the kinder, gentler (and less salty) soy sauce. It has a more complex, smooth flavor compared to the sometimes harsh, overwhelming bite of a salty soy sauce.

Soy sauce comes in “dark” and “light,” but don’t let the name fool you. “Light” soy sauce (not to be confused with “lite,” aka low-sodium) is thinner, but tends to be saltier than dark soy. Chinese black soy is made very dark and thick because of the addition of molasses.

Both soy sauce and tamari contain wheat, but wheat-free versions of tamari are available in most Asian groceries, making it ideal for anyone on a gluten-free diet. My favorites? San-J brand Organic Wheat-free Tamari or Organic Wheat-free Reduced Sodium Tamari.

You can use tamari in any recipe that calls for soy sauce. Think: Asian dipping, glazing, or noodle sauces.

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