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. ladymishel Philippines joined 10/10 & has 2 comments

    I hope this soy sauce is available in Philippines

  2. tsirhcevoli USA joined 3/10 & has 24 comments

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

  3. Toto94& has 34 comments

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

  4. LunaSlave& has 1 comment

    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.

    • 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.

  5. Martha from Hoju& has 5 comments

    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 & has 12,049 comments

      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! : ) “

  6. Conejo& has 2 comments

    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?

  7. Witra& has 1 comment

    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?

  8. Witra& has 1 comment

    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?

  9. Ahszi& has 1 comment

    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. =)

  10. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,049 comments

    Yes, you can use Chinese soy sauce.

  11. Is it okay if I use Chinese Soya Sauce?

  12. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,049 comments

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

  13. christina& has 1 comment

    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?

  14. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,049 comments

    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!

  15. 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 & has 1 comment

      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 & has 12 comments

        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 & has 12 comments

          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 !!

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