The Guide: Choosing a Soy Sauce

The Guide: Choosing a Soy Sauce

Welcome to The Guide series of blog posts; a repository guidance based on many year(s) from me since starting this initiative – on purchasing your foods sensibly.

The most relevant criterias surrounding the selection of these foods are (1) first and foremost – pragmatically accessible pricing; and (2) with the least heavy added industrial processing. Macros and ingredient profiles will obviously be discussed in detail.

A consistent disclaimer must however be adhered – such as that these are curated from my own observational and self-accounted experiences, which thus may not constitute a universally sound “buyers guide” to everyone’s minute expectations nor minute nutritional sensitivities or intolerances. As much as this initiative concerns upon the nutritional affordability costs in Australia (and potentially abroad); trade offs and sacrifices between industrially processed foods against the much more “bespoke” labels / quality wholefoods – are bound to overlap.

…And no, I am not paid nor sponsored by any brands or companies mentioned throughout the life of each and every one of these posts’ existence.

The Guide Attributes.

The first of this series revolves around soy sauces. Perhaps the most accessible condiment/s available for consumptive longevity next to condiment powders and sauce/s. Throughout my year(s) of my own accounts and nutritional journalling the following have made me convinced to be enlisted down to my shortlisted choices.

To be considered pragmatically sensible for human consumption – soy sauce should ideally possess the following attributes:

  1. Least amount of preservative.
  2. Cost per usages.
  3. Low carbohydrate friendly.

A 500ML bottle of soy sauce theoratically accomodate up to eighteen (18) meals alongside with meat-marinating duties (though of course dependant on personal taste and batch size required). Generally speaking (only under my experience and usage) – 25ML per any given meal as a condiment, and up to 40ML for a good 500g to 800g batch of meat protein batches – generally suffice for taste; with usual complementary additions of  peeled / crushed garlic and/or ginger powder to finish.

I have had some success in combining two or three drops of liquid stevia, alongside with natural peanut butter, ginger, turmeric, lime and  cayenne pepper (very small amount)  to produce low carb version of satay sauces.

However, I would suggest not to cook or overly heat the liquid stevia. Gently cook (covered) on a small stove top first. Then drop in no more than three on any finished dish. Mix and serve. Whilst soy sauce generally speaking are low in carbohydrates; beware that much cheaper, household brands you see around you be it from ALDI® or Fountain® – have hydrolysed proteins or worse – added fructose corn syrups. Even if you did buy one of these – the taste is somewhat “off”. As in just artificially “off”.  Avoid.


Kikkoman (regular/original soy sauce).

The best and most obviously – expensive. Full bodied without artificial sourness / aftertastes that many would find with faux / cheapened soy sauces from Fountain® brands.

I’ve grown accustomed upon trying a few soy sauces over the years and nothing quite come closely to the well known benchmark most people are familiar of. The Kikkoman. Posed in multiple varieties, from reduced salt to gluten free versions (look for the Organic Tamari version should you indeed have very noticeable gluten sensitivity, but beware of its highly inflated pricing) – there are further myriad of other versions which I am yet to sample – of which many of these can only be found within the big Asian groceries stores).

The Guide: Choosing a Soy Sauce

Unless if you can spend more $$$ one condiment after another – I would not recommend buying their “Teriyaki” marinade sauces (distinguishable by the newer label image print with orange ribbon).

In my opinion even in the context of carb re-feed days –  they (“The teriyaki range / orange ribbon”) taste somewhat too watered down, despite giving that familiarity of “teriyaki” palate. But to me and my own taste buds – they are still somewhat lacklustre. The 250ML bottle would have you guzzling it all over in no time. So don’t let the low carbs (<15g per 100g) fool you – you will be brainwashed to actually using it more blindingly.

My recommendation? Is to keep things clean, clear, slate. Buy the original if you can. Add ginger, lime and garlic separately with drops of stevia if you’d like things sweeter. Case closed.

Kikkoman® remains, in my opinion and experiences – assuredly the safest of all ingredient profiles. No benzoates, no potassium sorbates or added MSG analogues (#600s). The only thing that may be of concern is the natural preservative evidence of Alcohol, this is Nature’s effect and repercussion behind all process of fermentation and thus unavoidable. The Alcohol % are well below any standard drink concentration ranging anywhere between 4.9% to 7% by volume.

This is where it is at the most disadvantage. It may be prudent for one to consider purchasing a big bottle, however, it is such a hefty investment in one amount for such a condiment (anywhere between $8 to $10) – your purchasing opportunity towards other necessities such as proteins, fats or greens sources (especially during Keto/LC + IF days) are going to be severely limited.

Widely available. Interestingly also that you will find other varieties of Kikkoman (“Sukiyaki” and “Shoyu”) ONLY within Asian grocery stores that neither Coles or Woolies stock them. For one to consider a soy sauce without budget constraint or to think price tags don’t exist – this is a no brainer choice. Recommended.  The only downside is that I find smaller bottles almost unjustifiable for their high price tag, and thus would at least consider a 500ML a good starting off / prudent initial purchasing investment.

The Guide: Choosing a Soy Sauce


Yamasa Japanese Style Soy Sauce

Second to the list is the Yamasa® branded Japanese style soy sauce. This is more or less from my witnessing experience gets slightly more chances of being rated / sold on specials.

Yamasa® assuredly again discloses no visible artificial additions. No benzoates, no potassium sorbates or added MSG analogues (#600s). Like Kikkoman® the only thing that may be of concern is the natural preservative evidence of Alcohol but this is again unavoidable and bound to occur as part of fermentation process. Get over it.

More accessible as it is priced slightly more frequented towards specials amongst large Asian grocer stores.

Now this is where it gets tricky – Coles and Woolies do not stock Yamasa® soy sauces. From my experience only Asian grocery stores do stock them , so some scouting around some suburban shop centres would be worth it.

The Guide: Choosing a Soy Sauce

3/3 Last but (dubious) choice for long term use.

Pearl River Light Soy Sauce

Note that there is another version which comes as “dark” or “mushroom flavoured sauces”. Beware that the dark / Mushroom flavoured version (indicated by gold foil print as opposed to silver) – do contains some carbs (3.2g total / 1.3g net carbs per 15ml). Hence why I recommend the “Light” soy sauce version. But an added caveat – within this a preservative Potassium Sorbate or coded as E202.

The “Light” version actually tastes remarkably pleasant and enjoyable enough to be used straight as is for dipping on salads, cauliflower rice or  premarinating the shaved / julliened daikon noodles on the stove.  My hunch suggest – people first and foremost likely associate their expectation of (any) soy sauce to taste sharp yet with a “clean” aftertaste. Hence the “Light” soy sauce are more likely, as I suspect – may serve as the better recommendation.  The “Dark” version on the other hand is more “weighty”, though others may consider it too “bean-ey” in flavour.

Left: Light Soy sauce. Right: dark mushroom flavoured soy sauce

Acccordingly to Wiki® – Potassium Sorbate (E202) is widely used to inhibit moulds and yeast overgrowth. Now whether that yeast is of “good” or “bad” variety remains an unanswered question. I’d wager that all “yeast”, whether “good” or “bad” should be allowed to naturally mature as is by the mercy of time. And thus let our sense of (smell) dictate whether it is still viable for consumption, should its expiry dates become close to concern. 

…That is only if of course – if you actually leave your soy sauce that long in the fridge.

Used on cheese and wine produce – some health concerns seem to emanate from E202’s genotoxicity in-vitro (isolated cell experiment). Such concerns start to emanate on intakes higher than what is thought as maximal (25mg per kilogram of human body weight). For a 65kg adult, that would translate to 1625mg. I am yet to experience any adverse effects from consuming it; either gently cooked or fresh straight on as is.  I do not think; we should all be concerned ever to reach that chronic amount of 1625mg.

Although to address all readers anxiety (as a pragmatic N=1 thought only)  – what would I do pragmatically then to counter the above fear/s, should I were to consume these additives regularly? Considering its effects presumably on the gut ecosystem (as would anything to do with yeast implications suggest)-  I would never neglect daily probiotic rich foods from full fat yoghurt, sauerkraut, and (this is something I must admit I lack) – Gelatin / collagen proteins. Additionally, heated beef / chicken stocks and broths mixed with warm Apple Cider Vinegar between meal/s (but WITHIN feeding window) would likely something to remain as long term practise within all Keto/LC+IF day/s.

Regularly witnessed pricing of $2.50 per 500ML would last you ages.

Widely available. From your nearest Asian shop groceries, IGAs to Woolies and Coles.

“But,but,but…what about salt intakes??”

(rolls eyes).

Marvel at this historical tradition:

” In the past, what was not consumed immediately was salted, wrapped in straw and stored in ceramic jars and crocks, or hung from kitchen rafters. The fatty parts of the flesh were turned into lard and stored in oil vessels known as anda-chibu, while the crispier residues were roasted, combined with vegetables and used for miso soup or in a pork miso dish known as anda-insu. Mixed with starch and salt, the blood made a tasty seasoning.”

Do  you know where these comes from? The Okinawan diet.

Yes, pork. Even snakes.  What a contradiction from mainstream journals.

Oh well, we’re not here trying to statistically coerce ourselves in a debate arguing what “healthy” means anyway.

Provided you have diligently provided yourself all micronutrient and mineral balance intakes from greens, Keto or not Keto,  – acquaint yourself with more pragmatic ‘science’:

  1. Before there was “medicine”. Salt was used in almost…anything. Even as monetary currency. So precious that nomadic tribes are willing to trade entire (animal) yaks.
  2. With little or no salt, humans would not have  had the means to cure or preserve meats for survival. Before we even have bacterial / nutritional yeast (as isolated ingredients) what else could we have used to preserve foods?
  3. With little or no salt, fermentation of almost anything carbohydrate would be next to impossible. That includes kimchis, cabbages, etc.


One thing for sure. What is food without salt?… Is food without taste. And no I wouldn’t skip the greens.

Be pragmatic. Salt to sufficient taste. End of story.


There you have it. Nice and simple post for a change. Obviously there are many, MANY other bottle brands that offers such claims as “NON-GMO” or “Organic Certified” labels, but the truth will always prevail on the ingredient list. Exercise your inquisitive sensibility. If the ingredients list more than one (1) synthetic number which you cannot ever pronounce in your head. Look elsewhere.

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