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SOY SAUCES ADD SPLASH OF FLAVOR

SHARE SOY SAUCES ADD SPLASH OF FLAVOR

Soy sauce has many personalities. Its saltiness can vary from breathtakingly intense to mellow and muted. Its consistency ranges from watery to viscous. And unlike many other products, the cheapest sauce is often the best.

Soy sauces, essential in most Asian cuisines and increasingly common in America, can be grouped into two main categories: Chinese and Japanese style. Chinese sauces come in various intensities, but most are "thin" or "light" style, referring to the consistency, not the amount of sodium.Chinese thin or light sauce, used both as a condiment and in cooking, is actually saltier than the thicker, dark Chinese soy sauces, which are used only in cooking and are sweetened with molasses. Most reduced-sodium soy sauces are labeled low-sodium or "lite."

In general, Japanese sauces are not quite as salty as Chinese. Tamari is a Japanese variety made without the wheat flour commonly added to most Chinese and Japanese soy sauces.

The fastest-growing segment among Asian sauces is the reduced-sodium variety. Such sauces contain around 100 milligrams of sodium in half a teaspoon, compared with 160 milligrams for many regular soy sauces. Table salt has around 1,000 milligrams of sodium in half a teaspoon.

Flavored soy sauce may be the wave of the future. Mitsukan, a Japanese company, has just started importing Ajipon, a reduced-sodium, citrus-flavored sauce that it started making in Japan 30 years ago, when the Japanese acquired a taste for a splash of lemon in their soy sauce.