Mar 28, 2013

Discover TAMARI Soy Sauce
(green label imported) Tamari soy sauce,

10 oz / 296 mi size costs $7.91 plus S&H,
is the only highly recommended brand by
Cooks Illustrated Magazine. It is made
of Non-GMO organic whole soy beans,
and is gluten free.
I have been cooking for a long time, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered Tamari soy sauce. I love sushi bars, and I was told that most sushi bars don't use soy sauce as a dipping sauce for their tasty little fish morsels, they use a premium soy sauce called Tamari soy sauce. I did a taste test and realize that there is a huge difference in the flavor and saltiness between the two. Hawaii uses a lot of soy sauce, sometime referred to as "shoyu". You can easily find large bottles of soy sauce at Friendly Market, the main grocery store here on Moloka'i, but it's more difficult to find Tamari soy sauce, which comes in small 10, 15, and 20 ounce bottles for some reason. My only guess is that people have not discovered it yet, or it costs more. Here's what I found out about Tamari soy sauce vs. regular soy sauce:

Originally the world's first soy sauce was Tamari, the byproduct of making Hacho miso, a fermented soybean paste. It was the prized liquid that rose to the top of the cask as the miso was aging. This original 'true' Tamari had a very thick consistency, a strong distinct flavor and aroma, and was the color of dark chocolate. For centuries this prized liquid was reserved for special occasions and was a rare commodity. Over the centuries master brewers discovered that they could produce more Tamari by simply increasing the amount of liquid in Hacho miso production. This specially brewed sauce was thinner but had qualities similar to 'true' Tamari. The new liquid resulting from fermentation became known as "shoyu", the common type of soy sauce used today.

There are three main categories of soy sauce that are available in the United States today: 

•  Tamari, naturally brewed and made primarily with soybeans
•  Shoyu (soy sauce), also naturally brewed and made from half soybean and half wheat 
•  Nonbrewed, which is made from hydrolyzed vegetable protein

When judging soy sauce, the characteristics to look for are aroma, appearance, and most importantly, taste. Tamari, my favorite, has a soft, rich aroma; a very smooth flavor; and a well-balanced taste. Shoyu, although a modern-day brewed soy sauce with a balanced taste, is sharper than Tamari due to the difference in raw materials and a stronger alcoholic fermentation. Nonbrewed has a strong, unbalanced taste; a salty aftertaste; and is completely unlike Tamari and modern-day brewed soy sauce.

If you haven't tried Tamari soy sauce, look for it in your grocery store, or you can buy it online, it's worth the effort. I have found that I use 1/2 to 3/4 of a portion of Tamari soy sauce when substituting it for regular soy sauce. I reach for the Tamari when I want a bit more of a complex flavor on something like plain rice. I tend to use regular soy sauce when mixing into a larger homemade sauce or where the soy sauce flavor will blend into the background because the recipe calls for so many other strong ingredients. 

Note: Both soy sauce and Tamari soy sauce contain wheat, but wheat-free versions are available in most Asian groceries, making it ideal for anyone on a gluten-free diet. 

Shrimp Fried Rice with Vegetables
1 cup broccoli florets
7 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 cup cooked long-grain white rice (jasmine rice), chilled
2 eggs
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
12 ounces peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1 1/2 cups frozen edamame (soy beans), thawed
2 tablespoons Tamari soy sauce, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Sriracha (Chinese hot chile sauce)
1/4 cup thinly diagonally sliced green onions

Steam broccoli 4 minutes or until crisp-tender; set aside. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon canola oil to pan. Add garlic, bell peppers and sugar snap peas to pan, and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Place vegetable mixture in a large bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add ginger, and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add rice and eggs, stir-fry for 5 minutes or until rice is lightly browned and eggs are scrambled. Remove rice mixture from wok, and add rice mixture to bowl with the vegetable mixture.

Wipe the wok with paper towels. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shrimp; stir-fry 1 minute. Add edamame; stir-fry 1 minute. Stir in Tamari sauce, vinegar, and Sriracha; bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes or until liquid thickens slightly. Add vegetable mixture and green onions; stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

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