Soy sauce

Ganjang 간장

Soy sauce has a real unique taste: it’s salty and a little sweet. When you go to a Korean grocery store, you’ll find that they stock many different kinds of soy sauce, usually without English labels. Personally I always use jin-ganjang (진간장).


This style of soy sauce was introduced from Japan and it’s relatively new to Korea, unlike traditional guk-ganjang (국간장 or “soup soy sauce”) which has been used for thousands of years.

Like soup soy sauce, “regular” soy sauce is made from soybeans but the process is totally different, and the resulting soy sauce is darker, less salty, not as strong, and a little sweet. It’s better suited for everyday uses as a dipping sauce or a light flavoring agent, not to flavor a whole pot of soup. It’s too dark for that anyway – soy sauce for soup should be light in color so it doesn’t influence the overall color of the broth.




I remember when I was a student and soy sauce first gained popularity in Korea: I used to have a quick breakfast by mixing rice, soy sauce, and a bit of butter before rushing out the door!


Recipes that use soy sauce (ganjang):



  1. RuthC Colombia, South America joined 6/17
    Posted October 7th, 2017 at 7:26 pm | # |

    Hi maangachi, I have always wanted to cook Korean food, but where I live only sell soy sauce kikkoman and lee kum kee. Which best replaces Korean soy sauce?

  2. Karenchristy Indonesia joined 2/14
    Posted February 1st, 2014 at 11:13 pm | # |

    Maangchi 안녕~
    I wanna ask which soy sauce should i use to cook 잡채?
    The 진간장 or 국간장?
    고맙습니다 :)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted February 2nd, 2014 at 3:18 pm | # |

      Use jinganjang for Japchae, please.

  3. KrynauwOtto2 Pretoria, South Africa joined 9/13
    Posted October 16th, 2013 at 7:46 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi,
    What’s the difference between Korean soy sauce and Japanese/ Chinese soy sauce?

    • Kim Yunmi United States joined 7/12
      Posted October 15th, 2015 at 12:12 pm | # |

      Chinese soysauce is traditionally made as a kinda stewish broth. Japanese soy sauce is made anaerobically. (Meaning without air–also without sun). This makes for a milder taste Traditional Korean soy sauce is made aerobically, as in with air. That is, they take the soybeans, boil them, form blocks, let them dry and then the soysauce is a byproduct of making doenjang. Koreans also traditionally added flavorings to control mold, etc, such as garlic, jujubes, ginger, seaweed, etc. Which makes for a darker, heavier, but also sweeter soy sauce. If the fermenting goes well, the umame flavor can be exquisite, but it really depends on the time it gets to ferment. Most of the soysauce preserves either better in a refrigerator or in direct sunlight after it’s made. I store the soy sauce I made in leftover glass kimchi jars.

      All soy sauce gets darker as it ages more… and the flavor can become more intense, but the Korean method is very hard to control (Because Korean soy sauce is more like wine–you need the perfect conditions and weather to create it), which is why industrial soy sauce is usually not made through the Korean method anymore.

  4. HannahT joined 1/11
    Posted January 1st, 2011 at 5:40 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi! I just found your site recently and I think it is amazing! I’m half-Korean, but I don’t know how to cook Korean food at all, and I really want to learn :) I have a question about the word for soy sauce, “jingangjang.” In the first picture (of the sempio soy sauce) the can says “yangjoganjang” (양조간장). Is that another word for soy sauce or is it a different type? Just wondering thanks!!

  5. agitologi indonesia joined 10/10
    Posted October 23rd, 2010 at 10:02 am | # |

    hi miss maangchi..
    i’m trying to learn cooking korean food, and i want to ask you about this soy sauce. in my country, there is 2 type of soy sauce : sweet soy sauce and salted soy sauce, i’m sure that you’re not using the sweet one. but i also not sure you’re using salt soy sauce that i usually use. i can’t find korean soy sauce in here.
    so my question is, how is the taste of korean soy sauce? it’s important to me so at least i can get the picture, and try to find something familiar.
    and you’re also use kanari sauce or fish sauce. is it the same with fish oil (the taste is salty and the color is brownish black)?
    thanks, and i’m sorry for the long comment here..

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