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Soy sauce (Recipe: gingered Napa cabbage salad) {vegetarian}

Updated February 2011.

Soy sauce

The last time I wrote about lower-sodium soy sauce, I took a photo of the little bottle in my refrigerator.

Yesterday, I took a photo of the jug that's now in my fridge. You know what they say about something that comes in a jug, like the jug wine we used to drink in my college days.

It's cheap.

And you probably use it a lot.

True, and true. I have six other kinds of soy sauce -- Chinese light, dark, mushroom, and black; Japanese tamari; Indonesian kecap manis -- in my pantry, but Kikkoman less-sodium is the only one I buy by the jug.

Soy sauce is an ancient product, originally a salty paste that later came to be used as two separate foods: the liquid shoyu (soy sauce), and miso.

This lower-sodium (or less sodium) sauce is brewed, and after the fermentation (aging) process is complete, 40 percent of the sodium is removed. Though not as salty as regular brewed soy sauce, the reduced-sodium product works in harmony with very salty oyster sauce in the Cantonese Trinity (soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil) and Spicy Trinity (soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili paste with garlic) that are fundamental seasonings for my stir-fry dishes.

Kikkoman lower-sodium soy sauce has a lighter flavor than some other brands and certainly than full-sodium varieties, so it's best added to sauces or lighter dishes, or as part of the Trinity seasonings. I love this soy sauce in salad dressings and with fish, but also in meatier recipes like chow fun noodles or chicken wings.

Once opened, soy sauce likes to be kept in the fridge, where it will be happy for 6-12 months.

If you don't think you'll use this amount in less than a year... well, you're not quite ready to step up to the jug.

Gingered Napa cabbage salad

Gingered Napa cabbage salad

Adapted from a recipe in Gourmet. Serves 6.


For the dressing:
2 Tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 tsp chili paste with garlic, or more to taste

2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp agave nectar (or honey)
1 small Napa cabbage (approx 1-1/2 lbs), trimmed and sliced thin crosswise
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 Asian pear or Bosc pear, cut into 1/4-inch julienne strips
2 scallions, sliced thin
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro


In a shallow bowl, stir together dressing ingredients.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet, and add the mushrooms and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the dressing, 1/4 cup water, and agave nectar, and bring to a boil. Remove skillet from heat and cool mixture for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl combine cabbage, bell pepper, pear, scallions, and cilantro. Add mushroom mixture and toss to coat.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Salmon fried rice
Beef and broccoli stir fry
Spicy turkey rolls
Hot and sour soup
Moo shu chicken
Broccoli eggrolls
Rotini with spicy meat sauce

Other recipes that use soy sauce:
Soy sauce brined turkey, from gas•tron•o•my
Savory oatmeal with scallions and soy sauce, from A Veggie Venture
Chinese soy sauce eggs, from Use Real Butter
Soy-grilled mahi mahi with Korean dipping sauce, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Cold somen noodles with sweet-soy ginger sauce, from White on Rice Couple

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


This salad sounds delicious! I love soy sauce but don't use it often; I don't know why. I have a small bottle and will stick with that for now...:)

That's my go-to soy sauce as well. Although I don't buy it by the gallon - or keep it in the fridge. Is that really necessary?

That jug puts my 1/2 litre bottle to shame. Soy sauce really is one of the building blocks of Asian cuisine, you just couldn't imagine some dishes without it.

Ok, well I'm not ready for the jug but I do have a big bottle!

Woah that's a huge bottle of soy sauce! =D I usually take a long time to finish the small bottle! And I use the same type as shown in the picture! You only paid US$7 for the whole jug? That's cheap :)

I really like this kind of lip-smacking good light cabbage, what would we do without soy sauce?!

I am amazed by that jug of soy sauce because I don't even buy milk in such quantities :D
The stir-fry sounds so flavorful!!

I love that sauce too!! Much prefer it to other soy sauces..

While I have nothing against soy sauce, I'm almost embarrassed to admit I have never found a reason to use it while cooking versus other flavorings. I used to try to find reasons/recipes that required soy sauce because I always considered it a pantry staple, and I liked to keep some on hand "just in case." But bottle after bottle would go unused, eventually being thrown out. Eventually I tired of the waste and stopped buying it all together. Now I wouldn't know what to do with it if a bottle was given to me!

That is one mighty jug of soy sauce! I had no idea you were supposed to keep it in the fridge - I always just keep mine in the cupboard!

Love the salad!
I wish I could get the lower sodium stuff, but, not here. I used to find mushroom in Barcelona, also not here in France.
I didn't know it was supposed to be refrigerated... and as I'm still here I guess I won't start now! (smaller fridges, and all that)
Great info!

I need to get one of these. I do think kikkoman's low sodium has enough salt in it. If I do need more I just add a touch of knorr seasoning.

I've love to try this with the tofu version! There's so much good stuff in your salad, especially the pears.
Lower sodium anything is better for me, especially using less salty soy sauce. I coat almost everything with it, even plain bread. It's a health issue that I've been trying to remedy, but my big industrial bottle of Maggi seasoning keeps screaming out to me for love. It's such a terrible love/hate relationship. Sigh...

I don't think I've ever seen a jug of soy sauce before! I usually buy a small bottle and use a teaspoon, and then six months later, I buy another bottle, forgetting about the first one ... so it goes.

Chris, I'm a huge fan of Asian cooking (particularly Chinese), so I couldn't do without soy sauce.

Lisa, I don't think it's absolutely necessary to refrigerate, but it seems to last longer -- and I keep it with the oyster sauce and chili paste with garlic, so I can grab all three at once.

Neil, believe it or not, this is not even the largest size jug at my Asian market! But it fits into the door of the fridge.

MyKitchen, it took me years to work up to the jug, so just take it slow!

Noobcook, it is so much cheaper this way, and we do use it a lot so the jug makes sense.

Kelly-Jane, honestly I can't imagine cooking without soy sauce. I use it in all sorts of things, like spaghetti sauce, too.

Nupur, though I cook many different types of food, I cook Asian food more often than anything else. This jug of soy sauce doesn't last as long as you'd imagine -- maybe six months, tops.

Stella, same here.

Sandie, we eat lots of noodle dishes, sushi, dumplings and other Asian-inspired foods, so soy sauce is used more often than ketchup, and almost as often as olive oil, in my kitchen. Can't imagine life without it.

Helen, Katie: I think the refrigeration is a matter of preference. The soy sauce is already fermented, so storing it at room temperature is fine. But I feel that the flavor lasts longer in the fridge.

Veron, I agree -- and I've gotten used to foods with less salt, so this soy sauce always seems salty enough for me.

WORC, the taste for salt is part genetic, and part about conditioning. Even as I'm cutting down more and more each year, our kids have a strong taste for salt and always add it to my cooking (which makes me crazy, of course!). The Maggi seasoning is waaaaaay too salty for me; I've never been able to cook with it.

TW, you are to soy sauce what I am to vinegar....

Concur...no need to refrigerate the soy sauce. Of course, anything can eventually go bad, but your soy sauce should do fine in the cupboard.

This dish sounds delicious! Just a note, agave nectar can be found in most grocery stores in the international foods aisle. Larger, chain grocery stores are listening to their customers and stocking more eclectic food options. Also, cilantro is either loved or hated...I personally could have it on everything. But, if you are one those that just don't like it, you can still create this dish using parsley as a substitute.

Ooh, we have a big jug like this! This is one of my favorite types of salad--I love it with tofu. Never had it with mushrooms though so I am intrigued and eager to try that!

oh yes. the big bottle, absolutely. I buy it in 1l. bottles here, and they dissappear surprisingly fast.

i love soy sauce and use loadssss of it...lemme hunt this one down in my next supermarket trip ^_^

That's a huge bottle and I thought only restaurant kitchens use that! I prefer the Chinese dark soy compared to the lighter (saltier) version but I can't get it everywhere.

That's a good dressing for a variety of asian-inspired salads. Another good taste that reinforces the theme with that dressing, perhaps on other vegetables, is sesame oil. Also, toasted sesame seeds. You've probably already done a post on sesame.

EFL, I love that stores are broadening their food offerings -- I can find agave nectar in our local markets, too, though I still go to Asian groceries for Asian condiments (also the prices are much better at the Asian stores). And I'm the person in my house who substitutes parsley for cilantro, though my husband is a cilantro lover. Sometimes we do half and half!

Cakespy, Lobstersquad: Hooray! I knew I wasn't the only one out there who buys by the liter...

Rita, I think this little jug is the perfect size -- fits in the fridge, easy to pour, and the price is right.

Tigerfish, I keep dark soy in my pantry, too. It's often enhanced with caramel, which makes it both thick and sweet, and I love to drizzle it on a bowl of steamed rice.

Mae, I've posted about sesame oil and sesame seeds -- and I have another post coming next week. You've read my mind!

Recipe sounds really good! Mmmm, cilantro!

Oh my look at that huge jug! Although I make a lot of asian meals at home I am sure i will never get through such a huge jug of soy sauce!! I love the the recipe here though!

I need a jug like yours. I always have 2 or 3 little bottles, then last week --gasp!--I ran out when I was making a Thai noodle dish. Soy sauce is so versatile, and I definitely like low -sodium varieties.

Sandy, hope you'll try this -- it's delicious.

Meeta, now you know one of my secrets -- I love soy sauce!

Susan, whenever I run out of soy sauce (or chili paste with garlic), I feel like it's a sign that I'm losing my grip. I think that's why I buy the jug, so I'll never run out!

Lydia, you've just made me realize I don't cook with soy sauce as much as I'd like to.

Patricia, soy sauce feeds my salt craving, and I do so much Asian cooking that I tend to toss soy sauce into everything.

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