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Tamari: why it is the healthiest soy sauce

Fermented soy sauce came to Japan from China in the 7th century and became an important part of food culture. Therefore, today this sauce is considered typically Japanese. Tamari is characterized by a salty taste, followed by notes of moderate umami, sweet and finally a slight bitterness.

What is tamari? Differences with soy sauce and shoyu

In the supermarket, some soy sauces are called shoyu, others tamari, and others simply “soy sauce.”

Shoyu and tamari are sauces in Japanese cuisine. Shoyu is the Japanese word for “soy sauce.” There are many different shoyu sauces in Japan, for example: koikuchi, usukuchi, shiro, or saishikomi. Only in Japan are soy sauces called shoyu.

The difference between shoyu and tamari is that the former contains wheat as well as soy. The tamari, for its part, is a remainder of the production of miso, only from soybeans.

The main differences between shoyu and tamari are the following:

Ingredients: shoyu is made from soybeans, koji (ferment), water, salt, and wheat. Traditionally, tamari does not contain wheat. Color: Wheat makes shoyu a bit lighter, while tamari is characterized by its dark brown to black color. Flavor: due to the wheat, shoyu tastes a bit sweeter than tamari.

All other soy sauces, other than tamari or shoyu, tend to be saltier, are often not products of fermentation, and contain additives.

Where can you buy tamari?

You can get tamari in well-stocked supermarkets, in organic stores, in Asian stores or in online stores. It tends to cost more than shoyu and other soy sauces, as there are far fewer tamari producers than shoyu in Japan.

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Originally, tamari was only made in one region of Japan, Aichi Prefecture. Soy sauces, on the other hand, can come from many different Asian countries.

What should be considered when buying tamari?

When buying, be sure to select a sauce that says “naturally brewed” or “naturally fermented.” These products are closer to the traditional way of making and are made by fermentation. Since traditional production is a quality feature, it is advertised on the product.

Also it is a good idea to look for ecological quality to make sure that the soybeans have not been treated with pesticides. In addition, only soybeans, water, salt, rice and Aspergillus oryzae.

Ingredients like sugar, colors (for example, caramel), and flavor enhancers like glutamate (sometimes called yeast extract) indicate that the fermentation time was shortened or that the sauce was made without fermenting at all.

How is tamari used?

In Japanese cuisine, tamari is mainly used for cooked or raw fish dishes such as sashimi (sushi without rice and garnishes).

It is also suitable for rice, pasta, tofu and vegetable dishes, broths, dips, sauces such as teriyaki (sweet, spicy sauce) and marinades.

You can cook it or use it raw. The sauce should be used sparingly so that the aroma does not become too overbearing.

Is tamari healthy?

Naturally made tamari is considered a healthy alternative to conventional soy sauces, as it it contains less salt, and has no unwanted ingredients. In addition, it does not contain gluten, so it can be consumed by people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

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Anyway, you always have to look at the ingredients, because some manufacturers add a little wheat or barley.

As a seasoning, tamari does not contain significant proportions of nutrients and vital substances. Although it is a fermented food, it is not probiotic, that is, it does not contain live bacteria because it has been pasteurized.

Tamari and histamine intolerance

The seasoning sauce is not suitable for people with histamine intolerance because, like other soy sauces and fermented soy products in general, it contains a lot of histamine, which is produced during fermentation. Soy is also among the histamine releasers. This means that they promote the release of histamine from the body itself.

Is the tamari vegan?

Compared to many other Asian seasonings, some of which contain fish or shellfish, tamari does not contain animal components.

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