Soy sauce is one of the world’s oldest condiments and has been in use for many years. Traditionally it is prepared by fermenting a mixture of mashed soybeans, salt, wheat and water. The wheat is primarily used in soy sauce in equal parts with the soybeans and is pulverized to give it taste and consistency.
Despite its name, almost all varieties of soy sauce contain wheat. More often than not, it is listed as the very first ingredient on the bottle. This makes placing takeout orders a risk for individuals with gluten sensitivities.
However, for individuals on a gluten-free diet, it is important to note that soy sauce that has not been labeled gluten free will likely contain wheat content. Others may contain barley which still has gluten in it. In many non-brewed varieties, the inclusion of wheat has now been removed.
While traditionally brewed soy sauce may contain wheat content there are some well-known brands that certify their products as gluten free. Brand names like Kikkoman have a gluten free version of soy sauce that offers the same rich, savory taste as their regular soy sauce. It is brewed with four basic ingredients including soybeans, water, salt and rice and replaces wheat content by using rice instead.
Even with some of the traditionally brewed sauces, it appears that the gluten content seems to be no longer present in the final products, technically rendering it as a gluten free soy sauce. This is done by the process of fermentation that breaks down the complex proteins including gluten into smaller components. However, while these sauces may not bother individuals with gluten intolerances, celiac patients should only opt for certified gluten free soy sauces like Kikkoman.
Soy Sauce Substitutes
One type of sauce that is closely related to soy sauce and can often be substituted for soy sauce in recipes is called tamari sauce. In fact, recipes that have been tailored for gluten free eating will often use tamari sauce in place of soy sauce and others that are regular recipes will call for tamari sauce as a substitute for soy sauce to make the recipe gluten-free.
When looking at the similarities between the two sauces, it is true that both are by-products of fermented soy beans. However, the principle difference between the two is the presence (or absence) of wheat. Tamari sauce uses no or very little wheat making it an ideal substitute for soy sauce that is gluten free.
Other differences between the two products come from their place of origin. For instance, soy sauce and its various types are found widely throughout Asia but tamari is uniquely Japanese in origin. In terms of flavor, tamari boasts a richer flavor and darker color than the more widely used Chinese soy sauce. Tamari sauce also offers a more balanced flavor and is significantly less salty.
Gluten-Free Soy Sauces
Along with its regular gluten free versions, Kikkoman also offers a naturally brewed tamari gluten-free soy sauce.
Another brand known as San-J offers a variety of gluten-free products. There is a regular as well as an organic tamari-style soy sauce available for people with gluten intolerances. In addition, you can also find reduced sodium soy sauces. No gluten based alcohols are used in these sauces.
Eden Food offers two separate tamari-style soy sauces that are made from soybeans, water, grain alcohol, koji and sea salt. The grain alcohol in the products is sourced from rice and corn and not wheat.
Adapted from Lunch Scraps