skip to content
Kikkoman: Asian Flavors for Modern Menus

The Master Sauce in the World Cuisines

Chinese cooks have had 2,500 years to explore the uses and nuances of soy sauce—they invented this fermented condiment that both preserved and flavored food. Later, the Japanese improved the recipe by adding wheat, which yields a more delicate taste. Even today, Chinese and Japanese soy sauces remain distinctly different.

But both cultures agree that soy sauce is truly the "master sauce" of Asia, fundamental to many Asian kitchens. Here are just a few of the many ways in which it is used:

In China:
Master Sauce Chicken is a whole bird simmered in a mixture of water, soy sauce, rice wine, rock sugar and star anise. Constant basting gives the chicken a rich golden-brown skin with an appetizing sheen. The sauce can be strained and used repeatedly.

Red-Braised Pork is a whole pork shoulder braised in water, soy sauce and aromatics, like tangerine peel and star anise, until tender and glazed a deep reddish-brown color.

In Japan:
For sushi, the dipping sauce is usually straight soy, but for sashimi, lower sodium ponzu is preferred. Ponzu is made with soy sauce, mirin (rice wine), sake, bonito flakes and konbu (giant kelp). Chefs make this sauce in quantity, strain it and age it for months.

Japanese noodle broth always includes soy sauce, as does the dipping sauce for cold noodles. And, of course, soy is essential to teriyaki sauce and yakitori sauce, the basting sauce for skewered grilled foods.

In Korea:
Kalbi, the country's famous braised short ribs, are simmered in soy sauce with green onion, sesame seed, garlic and sugar.

In Singapore:
Soy sauce mixed with sesame oil is an essential dipping sauce for one of this island's signature dishes: Hainanese Chicken Rice, a poached chicken served with broth-cooked rice and many condiments.