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My local asian market features two brands of soy sauce.

Lee Kum Kee (LKK) Premium Light Soy Sauce (李錦記鮮味生抽): Water, Salt, Soy Bean (11%), Sugar, Wheat Flour, Flavour Enhancers (E631, E627).

Pearl River Bridge (PRB) Superior Light Soy Sauce (珠江生抽): Water, Soy Bean (29%), Salt, Wheat Flour, Preservative (Potassium Sorbate (E202)).

  • Is it possible to know what soy sauce has a higher quality by looking at ingredients list?
  • Can be a higher percentage of soybean a indicator of high quality?
  • This question has received a flag for being overly subjective, and I don't completely disagree. Can you somehow eliminate the word "better"? I'll give it a shot later when I have time to think about it, but even better if you do it. – Jolenealaska Mar 26 '17 at 8:01
  • @Jolenealaska done, sorry for the confusion – NeDark Mar 26 '17 at 10:57
  • Is "more likely to yield an expected and great result when used in a chinese origin recipe" a good substitute for "better"? On the other hand, isn't presence of flavor enhancers in a product supposed to be naturally an umami sauce an indicator of mediocre quality? On yet another hand, presence of potassium sorbate also is a quality imperfection, but a more opinion-based one :) – rackandboneman Mar 27 '17 at 9:55
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Offhand, I would guess the Pearl River Bridge is a higher quality - it has more soybean, does not have sugar, does not have flavor enhancers. The fact it doesn't have distracting flavors makes it harder to cover up lower quality - so they must be pretty sure of their product.

I would think higher soy percent is better simply because it's more concentrated, you get more flavor per use and more flavor and less water per bottle - you can easily dilute a more concentrated sauce, much harder to concentrate a dilute one.

The Lee Kum Kee looks like it's more dilute, and uses extra salt, sugar and flavor enhancers to bolster the taste - instead of tasting like, well, soy sauce. These sorts of things make the product taste good, but that means they can make a "good enough" product with lower quality ingredients, usually that means they do not have to depend on the quality of their soy sauce to stand alone.

You may actually prefer either, depending on your palate. Some people like the plainer taste by itself and would prefer the less doctored (and higher quality) product, some would like the flavor profile of the more tweaked version and are more indifferent to quality variations. But, that is what I would see when looking at those labels.

  • Offhand, I agree. ATK taste-tested Soy Sauce, and they liked one of the Lee Kum Kee varieties, but they didn't try that specific one, nor did they try Pearl River Bridge. So, with only the list of ingredients to go by, I concur with your reasoning. – Jolenealaska Mar 26 '17 at 4:41
  • I think a big part of the difference between light and dark soy sauce is the amount of soy? I'm not sure which of those is a more normal light soy sauce, though. – Cascabel Mar 26 '17 at 4:54
  • @Jefromi - I admit I also don't know which amount of soy is more expected, but the fact that the Lee Kum Lee has more salt than soybean still gives the impression that it is under-strength, as well as having more sugar than wheat flour - considering soy and wheat are supposed to be the primary flavoring. – Megha Mar 26 '17 at 5:25

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