The difference is clear: Non-brewed soy sauce (far left) is often opaque, with a harsh, overpowering flavor and a pronounced chemical aroma. Traditionally brewed soy sauce (left) is transparent, with a light amber color and a balanced flavor and aroma. What's critical to the chef in selecting a soy sauce is the difference in taste and performance between traditionally brewed and non-brewed soy sauces. Traditionally brewed soy sauce has a mellow, sweet-salty flavor, a subtle aroma and a delicate, transparent color—qualities that marry well with the flavors and colors of other ingredients.The harsh, salty, chemical flavor of opaque non-brewed soy sauce is one-dimensional; it masks and overpowers other ingredients. One San Francisco chef put it best: "I liken it to the difference between swallowing moonshine and sipping a 1947 cognac."
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