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How To Thicken Soy Sauce ⋆ Here Is What You Need To Do ⋆

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Soy sauce is a guaranteed way to add intense flavor to any dish. Its rich, savory and umami notes just pair so well with so many different foods. But what can you do if you wanted to thicken it up a little? Besides, it’s naturally quite runny, regardless of the brand you decide to go with. Well, here are all of the things you can do to alter the consistency. 

So how do you thicken soy sauce? The best option to thicken soy sauce and retain its taste is to reduce it. Another option is to add a thickening agent like starch or flour. A third option is adding brown sugar to get a beautiful thick glaze, although it gets a bit tricky to balance the tanginess with the sweetness.  

So, there are several different options available to thicken soy sauce.

Some will alter the taste however so you do need to consider your preferences.

Nevertheless, let us continue to explore how we can thicken soy sauce and why it is so thin, to begin with!

Why Is My Soy Sauce So Thin?

Soy sauce is naturally thin; many popular brands and recipes will produce or provide you with a somewhat watery sauce. It’s just something that you should come to expect.

That being said, this does not mean you need to settle for a thin soy sauce.

You will need to work on it a little, but do rest assured that just because it comes this way does not mean you have to consume it like this. 

What Consistency Should Soy Sauce Be?

The consistency of your soy sauce depends on the type of soy sauce you are going for. That being said, it can be thin or thick.

The following soy sauces are the most common types:

Thin Soy Sauce

For North Americans, what they refer to as the regular soy sauce is the thin soy sauce type.

Whenever a Chinese recipe calls for soy sauce, you can use this commercial variant of the soy sauce family.

Though lighter, it is much saltier than the dark soy sauce which is the second most common soy sauce variant.

Flavored Soy Sauce

This is a dark soy sauce that is infused with flavors from dried Chinese black mushrooms or brine from dried shrimp. Its consistency is similar to that of thin soy sauce.

Recipes that call for dark soy sauce, this mushroom-flavored or shrimp-flavored variant can be used as a replacement.

Mushroom-flavored soy’s earthy flavor is why it is not only used in cooking, but also serves as a table condiment.

Shrimp soy is a perfect combination for seafood Asian cuisines and also as a table condiment.

Asian Soy Glaze

If you are going to make an Asian soy glaze, the consistency is sticky and thick.

It is the type of soy sauce that can be stirred up at home by adding honey to light soy sauce along with garlic, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, and fennel seeds for that rich flavor and sticky consistency.

Dark Soy Sauce

Dark soy sauce has its distinct taste which is why it can be used in combination with light soy sauce in recipes.

Its consistency is similar to the light soy sauce, but it is darker in color because of getting aged for longer.

Some variants of dark soy sauce also contain molasses and at times caramel which enhances its flavor and adds to the consistency.

Thick Soy Sauce

If the recipe calls for a thick soy sauce, its consistency should be similar to light honey.

It is made by adding wheat, sugar, or a starch thickener during the fermentation process. But it can also be whipped up at home with the commercial soy sauce variant.

What Can You Use To Thicken Soy Sauce?

The main options when it comes to thickening soy sauce are adding flour, a thickening starch agent like cornflour, or using brown sugar or honey. 

Just be mindful that while adding ingredients to the sauce will give you the consistency you desire, it may impact the flavor of the sauce.

You may not even like it.

For instance, brown sugar will make it considerably sweeter. It may even upset the flavors of the meal. 

Alternatively, you can also add other different flavor enhancers like spices and garlic to help rebalance the sauce; even if it will taste different from the original recipe. 

5 Simple Ways To Thicken Soy Sauce

Before you begin thickening your soy sauce, make sure you’ve read the section on “What consistency should my soy sauce be” and check out the types of soy sauces and their varying levels of thickness listed there so you know what you want to get at.

Remember that the methods which involve heating up the sauce will get a little thicker once it cools down. (Don’t want to end up with gelatinized soy sauce do we…)

Now. let’s delve into the details so you know exactly how to use these methods to transform your home-fermented or store-bought soy sauce to the perfect consistency:

Method 1: Use A Thickening Agent

Making a thick soy sauce from scratch is a hard and lengthy process.

So instead, you can use a commercially available thin or light soy sauce and add a thickening agent like flour, cornflour or another starch-based thickener.

Here are the steps to do so:

Step 1: Gather The Ingredients

Choose the type of thickening agent you want to use for the sauce.

You can opt for flour, cornstarch, potato starch, or rice starch.

Start by mixing a tablespoon of the agent with half a cup of cold water.

Step 2: Add To The Sauce

Once you have mixed the mixture and ensured there are no clumps, add it to the soy sauce.

The quantity of soy sauce to put the mixture into depends on the consistency you are going for.

Method 2: Reduction – Let It Simmer

A great way to thicken soy sauce without compromising on its taste is by simmering it over low heat.

This evaporates the water in the sauce, leaving you with the concentrate.

Remember that this concentrate will be much richer in flavor and saltiness as well.

So, adding a little of it to any dish or rice goes a long way.

Step 1: Bring To A Boil

The first step is to pour the sauce into a saucepan and bring it to a boil.

Step 2: Simmer It On Low Heat

Once the sauce begins to boil, bring down the heat and let it simmer for as long as it takes to get the desired consistency.

It is important to keep the sauce stirring in between so it doesn’t get scorched by the pan.

A scorched soy sauce will leave a burnt aftertaste which won’t be as delectable as you would expect thick soy sauce to be.

Method 3:  Using a Thickening Base

You can thicken soy sauce by directly adding a cold-water mixture of flour into soy sauce like the first method of thickening with starch.

However, another way to thicken and enhance the taste of soy sauce using the flour method is using butter to make a flour paste over the stove before adding in soy sauce.

Here is how you can use this method to thicken your soy sauce:

Step 1: Form The Flour Slurry

Heat 1-2 tbsp of butter in a pan. Once melted, test with a sprinkle of flour. If it begins to bubble, add in 1-2 tbsp of flour.

Whisk it together to form a lump-free paste that is golden brown.

Step 2: Add In The Sauce

Once you have gotten the golden-brown mixture, add in the soy sauce and mix well to combine.

The quantity of soy sauce to put the mixture into depends on the consistency you are going for.

Method 4: Adding Brown Sugar

This method to thicken soy sauce is the trickiest. This is because it might overly sweeten the soy sauce if the ratio is not right.

Here are the steps to thicken soy sauce using brown sugar:

Step 1: Make A Sugar Mixture

Take 2 tsp of brown sugar and mix it in 1/4th cup of water.

Make sure it is dissolved well.

Step 2: Mix It Up

Put the soy sauce over the stovetop in a saucepan.

Add in the sugar mixture and stir it until it thickens to the right consistency.

Method 5: Adding Honey & Spices

This method to thicken soy sauce yields the Asian soy glaze which can be topped in dishes as a sweet-and-sour flavor enhancer.

Here are the steps to thicken soy sauce using honey:

Step 1: Gather The Ingredients

Here are the ingredients you need to put together in a pan to thicken the soy sauce into an Asian glaze:

  • Chopped garlic (3 cloves)
  • Thickly cut ginger
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup light soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds (optional)

Step 2: Mix It Up

Put the mixture on a stovetop and simmer it till it gets the desired consistency.

Keep stirring in between to keep the sauce from burning.

Remove ginger slices before putting it into a container or using it in stir fry, marinades, and soups.

Finally

Soy sauce is naturally thin.

At least, the brands available at the store or the result of any recipe you follow.

Nevertheless, you can thicken soy sauce at home and get the consistency you desire. 

Or you can introduce new flavors to the mix with flavor enhancers; garlic and spices can work particularly well here. 

But while there are several ways to thicken soy sauce, just consider that they may result in a change of flavor.

Even with the process of reducing you can expect a richer, more intense soy sauce.

So you may need to use it more sparingly. 

Ultimately and whatever you decide, do proceed with caution.

If you are adding ingredients do so slowly, if you are reducing don’t put the heat too high or reduce for too long.

Otherwise, you could risk overly thickening or ruining the flavor of your soy sauce.

Want to learn how to thicken any type of sauce? Then check out my definitive guide:


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