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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!!

  4. 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..

  5. ladymishel Philippines joined 10/10
    Posted October 7th, 2010 at 2:08 am | # |

    I hope this soy sauce is available in Philippines

  6. tsirhcevoli USA joined 3/10
    Posted March 22nd, 2010 at 2:17 pm | # |

    Does it have MSG in it? (Mono Sodium Glutamate)

  7. Toto94
    Posted January 6th, 2010 at 2:04 pm | # |

    Is there a difference between Chinese and Korean soy sauce? Because I guess there is a difference between Chinese and Japanese soy sauce.

  8. LunaSlave
    Posted July 31st, 2009 at 12:52 pm | # |

    are there any good brands of Korean soy sauce that don’t use wheat?

    I’m stuck using San-J’s wheat free Tamari, it’s the only decent soy sauce I can find without any wheat in it (I can’t handle wheat gluten) but it’s quite expensive and only seems to come in small bottles. If I could get larger bottles of gluten free Korean soy sauce that’d be perfect – basically looking to use it in making galbi.

    • Yun
      Posted January 6th, 2010 at 10:19 pm | # |

      I know Wheat-free Korean soy sauce called Chosun Soy Suace. Sempio is No.1 Brand of Soy Sauce in Korea, which has more than 60 years history.

      Sempio’s Wheat-Free soy sauce tastes great. This SOY sauce is used mainly for Soup in Korean cuisine.
      but it can be used versatily in many different cuisines.

  9. Martha from Hoju
    Posted June 25th, 2009 at 11:30 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi Soen Saeng Nim,

    I bought Saempyo soy sauce. However, I saw at least 2 types, one says soy sauce for soup ‘Guk Kan Jang’. What is the difference between this and just Saempyo soy sauce? When do you use one and not the other?



    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted June 26th, 2009 at 9:28 am | # |

      Buy jinganjang (dark soy sauce) 금S
      I’m copying and pasting the answer that I gave to someone else a while ago.”

      There are 2 kinds of soy sauce that Koreans use: dark soy sauce (“jinganjang”(진간장)and soy sauce for soup called “gukganjang” (“국간장” in Korean)
      Koreans use gukganjang (soy sauce for soup) instead of fish sauce. I’m living in New York , so it’s difficult to make homemade gukganjang (soy sauce for soup). I know they sell it at a Korean grocery store here, but the taste is a little different from the soy sauce that I used to use in Korea.
      I found fish sauce gives the similar taste of well fermented gukganjang. That’s why I use fish sauce (“aekjjeot”: 액젓 in Korean) in ddeokguk.
      It sounds like you are living in Korea now. If you like to make delicious ddeokguk, you will have to find well fermented homemade soy sauce. If not, use fish sauce. If you don’t like the strong flavor, use less than my recipe and add a little salt instead.
      When you go to a Korean store, look for “kkanari aekjeot” (“까나리 액젓” in Korean). I know you won’t be able to find the 3 crabs there! : ) “

  10. Conejo
    Posted June 1st, 2009 at 12:45 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi:
    I really like your site and your recipes, especially japchae!
    In my local oriental supermarket there are two types of korean soy sauce – once called JEN S with an orange label (the same as in the picture here) and one called JEN GOLD F-3 with a cream coloured label. The F-3 soy sauce is more expensive. Can you tell me what the difference is, and which one I should use?

    • Conejo
      Posted June 1st, 2009 at 1:09 pm | # |

      Sorry – I meant to say JIN S and JIN GOLD F-3!!

  11. Witra
    Posted May 21st, 2009 at 9:20 am | # |

    I thought so. The movie was on my language. They said it ”mi kecap”. Mi is equal noodle, kecap is indonesian language for sweet dark soyabean sauce. But the dish eaten simple without meat or vegetable. It’s very dark and may leave reddish oil on your lips when u eat it. But, hey anyway is there a picture of blackbean sauce noodle?

  12. Witra
    Posted May 21st, 2009 at 6:41 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi! In some korean soap opera like Full House. I saw dark oily black noodle eaten. They said it’s soy sauce noodle. I’d really like to know how to make it. Could u help me?

  13. Ahszi
    Posted May 3rd, 2009 at 1:22 am | # |

    Nice! That looks great! Now that I already bought a bottle of Korean soy sauce (the same brand name “Saem Pyo”), I can cook any Korean food I want! For example: one of my favorite Korean dishes is Bulgogi. Guys, even if you haven’t gone to Korea, but if your country [whatever it is] have Korean groceries and shops, I hope you can easily find this brand. I’m located in the Philippines, and our country also have some Korean shops.

    And to Maangchi, thank you very much for recommending that soy sauce. =)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted May 3rd, 2009 at 12:01 pm | # |

      That’s true, so many Korean dishes are used soy sauce. The soy sauce you bought sounds like a big step to encourage you to cook Korean food! Wonderful!

  14. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
    Posted February 26th, 2009 at 12:42 pm | # |

    Yes, you can use Chinese soy sauce.

  15. Rachel
    Posted February 26th, 2009 at 8:47 am | # |

    Is it okay if I use Chinese Soya Sauce?

  16. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
    Posted November 23rd, 2008 at 4:53 pm | # |

    I don’t know much about other kinds of soy sauce. Why don’t you leave your question on the forum on my website?

  17. christina
    Posted November 23rd, 2008 at 12:17 pm | # |

    dear maangchi

    i heard there are many various art of soy sauce: the chinese, the korean and the japanese…what is actually the base different among them?

  18. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
    Posted August 3rd, 2008 at 2:25 pm | # |

    I think kitoman soy sauce is ok. I’m wondering why the sauce tastes a little bitter. Anyway, soy sauce I’m using everyday is the brand name “Saem Pyo” (샘표 진간장 in Korean). Thank you!

  19. phuong
    Posted August 3rd, 2008 at 1:30 pm | # |

    hi maangchi i was wondering, does the brand of soy sauce that you use matter? I tried to make the green onion dipping sauce with the kikkoman light soy sauce…the soy sauce has a slight bitter taste to it,

    Sincerely bokchoy

    • ltzecherk UK joined 2/10
      Posted February 27th, 2010 at 3:39 pm | # |

      phuong was asking a long time ago about kikkoman light soy sauce being bitter. i’ve been using kikkoman light soy sauce all this while and it is never bitter because I hate bitter taste. i think you’d better check the expiry date or the way you store it. i’d prefer kikkoman because it doesn’t contain any artificial flavouring or coloring. hehe.

      • Hana Yi Canada joined 9/10
        Posted October 20th, 2010 at 6:25 pm | # |

        Could you please pick this one?
        I have written without considering English grammar, haha.

        ” I agree with Itzcherik (UK). I do use kikoman light soy sauce and other products from the same company at home. I actually prefer the taste of Japanese soy sauce than Korean one because kikkoman Sushi & Sashimi soy sauce for example tastes mild and not strong at all. ”

        The picture of a soy sauce I use home often:

        • Hana Yi Canada joined 9/10
          Posted October 20th, 2010 at 6:48 pm | # |

          I have never used a Korean soy sauce since I bought one from Korean. One day my husband complained the taste a lot. I don’t remember what kind of soy sauce I bought that time. I had hardly cooked Korean food home because my husband is good cook. However, I started to cook Korean food home, I should get “Sampyo Jin soy sauce”. I am very excited on a Korean dish I will cook tonight. Firt of all I have to buy “Sampyo Jin soy sauce” from a Korean stroe. Happy cooking day !!


Leave a Reply