How Japanese Use Soy Sauce From the Scratch


Have you ever bought soy sauce? Perhaps it has been sitting in your refrigerator for a long time?

Soy sauce is a seasoning. Soy sauce is not a dressing. In other words, you almost never use it directly on food. Here is how the Japanese use soy sauce.

Whether you are a beginner or a master of Japanese cooking, you will definitely find it useful.


Soy Sauce is a Seasoning

Soy sauce is a seasoning.

Seasonings are salt and sugar. Rarely do we put only salt or sugar in a dish. In most cases, we combine several seasonings. This is because mixing different flavors and aromas makes food taste better.

Soy Sauce in Tomato Sauce

Here is what inspired me to write this post.

I saw an ad from Kikkoman on Instagram. It is a recipe for adding soy sauce to tomato sauce. This is very common for Japanese people. However, in the comments section, chefs and people who love cooking commented that they couldn’t believe it, that it was really delicious.

Put Soy Sauce in Everything

I was very surprised. Tomato sauce, meat sauce, pasta, stew, steak… Japanese people put soy sauce in everything. Just a little bit soy sauce makes the aroma richer. It deepens the flavor. The umami taste increases. What I had taken for granted was actually not so obvious. Having realized this, I dare to show you how to use soy sauce.

Soy Sauce Is Not a Dressing

Again, soy sauce is a seasoning. It contains a lot of saltiness and umami. And it has a nice, distinctive aroma.

However, soy sauce is not a dressing. Soy sauce is a little too strong to be used alone.

Sushi is Special

The first Japanese food that many of you may have encountered is sushi. And we dip sushi in soy sauce. So, don’t you think that Japanese people put soy sauce on everything? Because of sushi, you have misunderstood soy sauce.

Dip in Soy Sauce

First of all, sushi is a special food. Japanese people do not make sushi at home, and sushi is not a daily food. Sushi is also special in its use of soy sauce.

Indeed, we dip sushi in soy sauce. In fact, it is very rare to dip it in plain soy sauce. It is only for very limited foods such as sushi and sashimi.

So how is it commonly used? Let’s take a closer look.

Use with Condiments

We sometimes pour soy sauce over grilled vegetables or tofu as it is. But even at this time, it is most often used together with dried bonito flakes and grated ginger. In this light, we also use wasabi together with sushi and sashimi.

Also, when dipping, we use very small amount. It is different from mayonnaise.

Wasabi and Soy Sauce

First, wasabi and soy sauce. The same goes for sushi and sashimi. The taste and aroma of soy sauce is combined with the stimulation of Wasabi. Soy sauce and Wasabi goes well with avocado also.

Ginger and Soy Sauce

Next, ginger and soy sauce. For example, when you eat cold tofu as it is. Put grated ginger on top and pour soy sauce over it. In addition to ginger, chopped green onion, myoga, and bonito flakes may also be added.

We use this method for simply grilled vegetables as well.

I recommend Japanese long eggplants. Japanese eggplants soften when cooked. This is a different characteristic from eggplants like Black beauty. And, put ginger on the cooked and softened eggplant, pour a little soy sauce on it, and eat it. It is a simple yet delicious side dish. A similar dish is yakibitashi.

Garlic and Soy Sauce

The last but not least is garlic and soy sauce. Of course, you can use grated garlic and soy sauce together. But there is an even better way. Garlic soy sauce.

Garlic soy sauce is easy to make. All you have to do is to soak garlic in soy sauce. Wait a week and you have a very tasty sauce. You can make pasta with garlic soy sauce and it tastes amazing.

Mixing with Other Seasonings

Next, we mix soy sauce with other seasonings. In fact, we almost always mix soy sauce with other seasonings. This is because we find soy sauce tastes better when there are many different flavors.

Dashi and Soy Sauce

The first is the combination of dashi and soy sauce. For example, soy sauce ramen. We use soy sauce and dashi together very often.

And this makes scientific sense. First, umami in soy sauce is glutamic acid. And in dried bonito flakes, it is inosinic acid. In other words, when you use soy sauce and dashi together, you get a stronger sense of umami.


Do you know what mentsuyu is? Mentsuyu means noodle soup. However, its uses are wide-ranging and not limited to noodle soup.

For example, we use it to season soups and stir-fries. And when you dip salmon or tuna sashimi in Mentsuyu, it becomes zuke. It tastes best when served over rice.

Sugar and Soy Sauce

The second is a combination of sugar and soy sauce. Sugar and soy sauce are very popular. I don’t know any Japanese who don’t like the combination of sugar and soy sauce. For example, if you cook meat and vegetables and season them with soy sauce and sugar, it is a fine Japanese dish.

Ramen Eggs

The best way to enjoy this combination of soy sauce and sugar is with ramen eggs. In Japan, they are called Nitamago or Ajitama. It is a seasoned boiled egg.

If you dip a boiled egg in soy sauce only, it will be very salty and not tasty. But if you add sugar and adjust the taste by adding water, you can make very tasty ramen eggs.

Vinegar and Soy Sauce

The third is vinegar and soy sauce. We call the mixture of vinegar and soy sauce as Sujouyu. We dip Gyoza dumplings or steamed buns in it.

In addition to that, there are many other combinations of vinegar and soy sauce, for example, nanbanzuke, etc.

Furthermore, it is also an indispensable ingredient in Japanese-style dressings. For example, onion dressing.

Mayonnaise and Soy Sauce

Finally, there is mayonnaise and soy sauce. Mayonnaise was not born in Japan. Yet, it has become an essential part of Japanese food culture. Simply add a little soy sauce to mayonnaise. Then, it becomes a Japanese-style mayonnaise at once.


Finally, I tell you how to cook soy sauce, which is very important.

For example, when you put soy sauce in a stir-fry. Are you pouring soy sauce over the ingredients? Actually, there is a way to make it more delicious.

Move the ingredients closer together and leave the edge of the pan open. Then, put soy sauce in it. Heat it as it is for a while, and the soy sauce will boil. It will also burn and smell fragrant.

In this way, the soy sauce is burnt before being mixed with the ingredients. This way, you can feel the savory aroma of the soy sauce more.

Soy Sauce Goes with Everything

In conclusion, soy sauce goes with everything. Ingredients from other countries are difficult to understand how to use. As for soy sauce, you can try it in just about anything. Most things will taste better, with more umami and a deeper aroma.


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