Chinese dark soy sauce is the thicker and darker cousin of regular soy sauce that gives dishes, usually sauces, a rich color, and a sweet-salty taste.
The most well-known dishes with this tasty sauce include stir-fried rice, noodles, and braised chicken, pork, or fish. In a matter of minutes, it can change each dish from ordinary to rich and fascinating.
Although essential in Asian cooking, this variety is sometimes difficult to find in supermarkets outside of Asia.
The best substitutes for dark soy sauce are teriyaki, light soy sauce, hoisin, oyster, molasses, tamari, and Worcestershire sauce.
These alternatives are more accessible in local grocery stores and give dishes the same mouthwatering flavor as black soy sauce.
So without further ado, let’s see what makes them such good substitutes for dark soy sauce!
Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes: Cooking Ratio & Nutritional Value
|One tablespoon of:||Calories||Fat||Carb||Protein||Fiber||Ratio|
|Light Soy Sauce||15||0g||2g||1g||0g||1:1|
What Does Dark Soy Sauce Taste Like?
Dark soy sauce has a rich, sweet, and salty flavor. It’s not as salty as light soy sauce, but it’s much thicker in texture and darker in color.
As a matter of fact, dark soy sauce has the same amount of salt as light soy sauce, but the stronger soy taste makes it taste not as salty.
That being said, black soy sauce doesn’t taste as good when consumed right from the bottle. That’s because soy sauce is too rich and potent to be eaten in this manner.
Instead of being used as a dipping sauce like its lighter cousin, black soy sauce is usually used as an ingredient.
Dark Soy Sauce Nutritional Value
One tablespoon of dark soy sauce contains:
- 20 calories
- 0g fat
- 4g carbs
- 0g fiber
- 1g protein
In cooking, soy sauce is usually used in tiny amounts. As a result, it’s unlikely to provide significant health advantages.
However, dark soy sauce does include isoflavones, which are substances that lower cholesterol. Moreover, a study shows that black soy sauce is rich in antioxidants, which are well known for their ability to slow down or stop free radicals from damaging cells.
Substitutes for Dark Soy Sauce
Teriyaki sauce is a condiment that’s packed with flavor. It includes soy sauce, sugar, ginger, occasionally garlic, and sake or mirin.
Teriyaki sauce is a great alternative to dark soy sauce because of its salty and sweet flavor, dark color, and thicker texture.
However, keep in mind that teriyaki includes ginger and garlic, which you may or may not notice depending on the dish you’re making.
When switching to teriyaki sauce, you can include it in a 1:1 ratio — the same amount of dark soy sauce you’d usually use.
Light Soy Sauce
Whenever you need to include dark soy sauce in a recipe, the most fitting alternative would be to opt for a different variety of the same sauce, like light soy sauce.
You can use equal amounts of light and dark soy sauce to get the salty, umami flavor in your recipe. However, light soy sauce is not as sweet as black soy sauce, so you might need to add a little honey or sugar.
Moreover, since this type of soy sauce is lighter in color, the dish or sauce you’re making will turn out lighter. So, if you’re after a dark hue, it’s best to choose a sauce that’s a bit darker, like teriyaki sauce.
Hoisin is a sweet and salty cooking condiment and dipping sauce. It’s very similar in hue to dark soy sauce and will brown your dish in the same manner.
The traditional recipe for hoisin sauce includes fermented soybean paste, garlic, chili, and fennel. Other recipes include even more ingredients, like sugar, Chinese five-spice powder, and vinegar.
Hoisin contains ingredients that are missing from black soy sauce. As a result, components like fennel may not go well with your recipe. When substituting dark soy sauce for hoisin sauce, be very mindful of the particular recipe — it might not always be a good fit.
Hoisin sauce goes well in a stir fry, glaze, noodles, or dips. What you should be mindful of are recipes that are too salty or sweet on their own — hoisin sauce will only accentuate those flavors and make the dish too overpowering.
The recipe for this next alternative is super simple, yet it tastes like it’s been made with hundreds of ingredients.
Salt, sugar, and oyster extract are the main ingredients for oyster sauce. Some varieties include soy sauce, while others are thicker due to the presence of cornstarch.
Oyster sauce is dark and very similar to black soy sauce – it’s just as salty but a bit sweeter.
Depending on the type, some oyster sauces have a much thicker texture than dark soy sauce. So, if you want to have the same consistency as black soy sauce, you might need to add extra water.
Molasses has a bittersweet flavor, and it’s a popular condiment used in tandem with barbecue sauce to give grilled meat a rich sweetness and a thicker coating.
When it comes to how suitable it is as an alternative to dark soy sauce, molasses is sweet but lacks salt, so it’s not identical in terms of flavor. If this is your pick, you may need to add additional salt to your dish.
Molasses has a thicker consistency than dark soy sauce, but the same color. Also, it may burn fast when cooking on high/medium heat, so try using it at the very end of a stir fry or other recipe.
Tamari is the Japanese version of soy sauce but contains no gluten or wheat.
Its flavor is comparable to both dark and light soy sauce — it’s not nearly as sweet but has a similar amount of salt as black soy sauce.
However, tamari also contains an ingredient that soy sauce doesn’t — miso paste. As a result, it might give dishes a pinch of miso flavor, which is funky and salty-sweet.
Tamari is also a bit lighter than dark soy sauce, but, with it, your dish will still get that brownish glaze.
All in all, if you’re seeking a gluten-free solution, this black soy sauce substitute could be an ideal replacement.
Although it originated in a different region of the world, the United Kingdom, Worcestershire sauce is quite similar to its Chinese cousin.
The main ingredients in this incredible sauce are molasses, anchovies, fermented garlic and onions, vinegar, tamarind paste, sugar and salt, and a mix of spices and seasonings.
If you’re looking for a salty-flavored and dark-colored sauce for dinner, Worcestershire sauce can be a great option. However, it may be a poor substitute in regard to sweetness, so consider adding a sweetener to get the same flavor as dark soy sauce.
Popular Recipes That Call for Dark Soy Sauce
Dark soy sauce is a staple ingredient in many Chinese and Thai recipes. Since its distinct flavor is so widely cherished, we want to share the four traditional recipes that include this sauce.
Thai Ginger Chicken
Do you prefer your food spicy with a hint of zing? If so, then you’ll love the Thai Ginger Chicken recipe. In addition to chicken, this meal can also be made with a range of different meats, such as beef and pork or veggie tofu.
The central part of this Thai meal is the ginger, which gives it its distinctive flavor. For a side dish, you can either go with jasmine rice or basmati rice.
Chicken Cashew Nuts
You’ve probably seen cashew chicken on practically every menu for Chinese takeout. Cashew chicken is a nutty stir-fry in a subtly sweet brown sauce. The list of ingredients may seem long, but many of them are probably already in your house.
Cashew chicken calls for chicken, cashews, garlic, onion, chili, fish sauce, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, and honey or sugar for a pinch of sweetness.
Veggie Pad See Ew
Phad See Ew is a veggie stir-fry noodle dish originating from China. Its traditional recipe includes soy sauce, vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce, shallots, garlic, oil, tofu, broccoli, and beaten eggs. It’s salty, sour, sweet, and mildly toasted.
Pad Ga Prao
Pad Ga Prao is a Thai delicacy made with minced pork, chicken, fish, or shrimp. It’s really easy to create, and it’s practically impossible to get the recipe wrong. The traditional Pad Ga Prao is made with ground pork, garlic, spicy chili, fish sauce, dark soy sauce, and eggs. Still, this dish is super versatile, and many recipes include additional ingredients like oyster sauce and fish sauce.
Overall, if you ever find yourself in a bind and need a substitution for black soy sauce, there are lots of solutions!
The most similar alternative to dark soy sauce is light soy sauce. If you’re looking for an alternative that’s free from gluten and wheat, then tamari is the one you should pick.
Each of our substitutes provides a somewhat different flavor than dark soy sauce, so be mindful of their taste and how well it will complement your recipe. Good luck experimenting in the kitchen and enjoying the new alternatives!