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), and have been using the Sempio brand for decades.

Unlike traditional Korean guk-ganjang (국간장 or “soup soy sauce”) which has been used for thousands of years, this style of soy sauce was introduced from Japan to Korea relatively recently. Like guk-ganjang, this 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 – guk-ganjang is light in color and it doesn’t darken 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. CikSyu Johor, Malaysia joined 1/17 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi, the soy sauce that you use in your cooking. it is dark soy sauce or light soy sauce. in my country, i really don’t have that brand that u suggest. thankz

  2. RuthC Colombia, South America joined 6/17 & has 8 comments

    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?

  3. Karenchristy Indonesia joined 2/14 & has 3 comments

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

  4. KrynauwOtto2 Pretoria, South Africa joined 9/13 & has 54 comments

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

    • Kim Yunmi United States joined 7/12 & has 30 comments

      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.

  5. HannahT joined 1/11 & has 2 comments

    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!!

  6. agitologi indonesia joined 10/10 & has 1 comment

    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..

    • Kim Yunmi United States joined 7/12 & has 30 comments

      Indonesian soy sauce is different from Korean in that Indonesian uses other flavorants added. Korean soy sauce compared to Chinese soy sauce tends to harbor a rounder flavor. Indonesian as I understand it, adds things like Candlenuts, so it probably nuttier in flavor.

      Chinese soy sauce tends not to be as umame as Korean and is generally saltier. This is probably because less mold is allowed to be in the soy sauce.

      Korean adds kochu, jujubes, garlic and ginger.

      Indonesian adds other spices, so I don’t think would be the same. (I also think the spices added are because of latitude–Indonesia uses far stronger spices, but is also closer to the equator, so you need more control over the bacteria and mold that does or does not grow.)

      Japanese, BTW, is milder than Chinese or Korean and lighter on salt because they can get away with it through how they process the soy sauce. (in the super traditional style).

      Fish sauce from Indonesia and Korea probably is different based on the fish used. Koreans vary based on region on which fish are used. Some Korean fish sauce adds shrimp top it too.

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