Soy Sauce Powder: The Classic Chinese Condiment in Dry Form

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Soy sauce powder is dehydrated soy sauce that can have other spices added to it. Most versions consist primarily of liquid soy sauce that has been sprayed onto maltodextrin, a powder that can be made from the starch of corn, rice or potato. Historians believe the soy sauce that we use today (and which is used to make soy sauce powder) to be the latest incarnation of an ancient Chinese sauce called jiang.

Jiang was made from meat, fish or grain. During the Han dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD), soy was fermented and used to make a paste called douchi. It was this paste that would eventually become soy sauce and that would eventually replace jiang.

Quality soy sauce is made with three ingredients: wheat, soy, and salt. Soy’s benefits were that it was easy to grow and could be grown even on low-quality soil, which meant that it was more plentiful than other ingredients. Soy sauce would be known by its present Chinese name (jiangyou) by the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Jiang’s popularity would spread from China to Japan and elsewhere in Asia.

It would eventually spread to Japan at some point during the 13th century. It would be adopted even further afield and become a staple in Korean, Vietnamese and eventually British cuisine. The English name for soy sauce is actually derived from the Japanese name for it: shoyu. An Englishman named John Locke coined the term saio in the late 17th century, in what was most likely a reference to imported Japanese soy sauce. The term is probably to a corruption of shoyu.

Soy sauce powder

At around the same time, William Dampier coined the term soy in reference to the sauce, not the bean. Soy would go on to become enshrined in one of the most important British culinary innovations: Worcestershire sauce. Soy sauce was called soy in Britain up until the early 20th century.

Today, soy sauce is America’s third most popular condiment. Only ketchup and mayonnaise are more popular.

Soy sauce powder flavor profile

Soy sauce powder tastes exactly like its liquid counterpart in that the flavor is primarily salty with a strong umami quality and a mild sweetness. These flavors are accompanied by intense fermented notes. Soy sauce powder is easier to store and transport and does not take on off-flavors due to oxidation the way a liquid soy sauce might.

Health benefits of soy sauce powder

Soy sauce powder does provide a few significant nutrients such as:

  • Minerals: Soy sauce powder is a minor source of iron, but is a much better source of magnesium and potassium.
  • Protein: Soy sauce contains a small amount of protein. While it is not a great source, it can be used to supplement it in your diet.

You can add soy sauce powder to your diet as a treatment for:

  • Obesity: Soy sauce powder offers a significant amount of flavor to food without the addition of extra calories.

Common uses

Soy sauce powder can be rehydrated and used in the same applications as liquid soy sauce. This means that you can use it to make fried rice, add it to marinades or to the gravy for stews. You can also add it to foods in its dry form; it makes a great addition to dry rubs as it brings both the umami flavor as well as a deep brown color. You can even sprinkle it directly onto food like salt or pepper.