What Is Korean Soy Sauce? (Taste, Uses + Related FAQs)

Soy sauce is an increasingly popular condiment around the world, and many countries have specialty soy sauces.

If you have seen Korean soy sauce, you may be wondering what Korean soy sauce is. I gathered the facts, and here is what I discovered!

What Is Korean Soy Sauce?

Korean soy sauce refers to soy sauce made in Korea using Korean methods, which include regular soy sauce, soup soy sauce, and tasty soy sauce. Generally, Korean soy sauce is made of soybeans, salt, and water and tastes savory, salt, and sweet, but the exact taste will depend on the type and brand of Korean soy sauce.

Do you want to learn more about Korean soy sauce types, tastes, uses, and more? Keep reading to find out!

What Does Korean Soy Sauce Taste Like?

Typically, regular Korean soy sauce tastes savory and somewhat salty and sweet because Korean soy sauce has a high concentration of soybeans, creating lots of umami flavors.

On the other hand, Korean soup soy sauce tastes very salty and is pungent with a somewhat briny flavor.

However, the exact taste of Korean soy sauce will heavily depend on the brand since each manufacturer has a different recipe.

What Is Korean Soy Sauce Made Of?

Generally, most Korean soy sauces are made of soybeans, salt, and water since most Korean soy sauce recipes do not call for wheat.

Unlike other soy sauce recipes that soak and steam soybeans, Korean soy sauce typically begins with a brick of dried soybeans called “meju,” and the meju gets fermented in traditional pots.

When the fermentation process is done, the liquid inside the pots is soy sauce, and Koreans often take the leftover meju to create a soy paste called doenjang.

Moreover, another type of Korean soy sauce called Korean soup soy sauce is a by-product of doenjang, and Korean soup soy sauce ferments in brine instead of water.

What Types Of Korean Soy Sauce Are There?

There are 3 main types of Korean soy sauce, which include:

  1. Ganjang (Regular Soy Sauce)
    Ganjang refers to regular soy sauce and can be called “whe-ganjang,” which means “from Japan soy sauce” since Koreans adopted regular soy sauce from Japan.
  2. Guk-ganjang (Soup Soy Sauce) or Joseon Ganjang (Traditioal Soy Sauce)
    Guk-ganjang or soup soy sauce is similar to Chinese light soy sauce because soup soy sauce is very salty yet clean in taste.
  3. Mat-Gan-Jang (Tasty Soy Sauce)
    Tasty soy sauce is boiled soy sauce mixed with other flavorful ingredients like kelp, lemon, sugar, garlic, etc., to create a flavorful and aromatic soy sauce.

How Do You Use Korean Soy Sauce?

Regular Korean soy sauce is used as an all-around soy sauce, meaning you can add regular Korean soy sauce to almost any dish that calls for soy sauce.

For instance, regular Korean soy sauce can be used to add as a seasoning, coloring, dip, marinade, and more.

On the other hand, soup soy sauce has a cleaner and saltier taste than regular Korean soy sauce, so soup soy sauce is typically used in salads, vegetable side dishes, and soups.

Moreover, mat-gan-jang is soy sauce with added ingredients, meaning mat-gan-jang is often used as a seasoning, condiment, or dip.

Is Korean Soy Sauce Good?

Is Korean Soy Sauce Good?

Korean soy sauce can be good, but how good Korean soy sauce is will depend on your preferences for soy sauce.

For instance, regular Korean soy sauce is excellent if you want a soy sauce with well-rounded flavors.

However, other people may prefer Kikkoman soy sauce over Korean soy sauce because Kikkoman has a distinct flavor profile.

Did Korea Invent Soy Sauce?

While it is widely accepted that China invented soy sauce, there is some evidence that suggests Koreans began fermenting soybeans before China.

For instance, the evidence suggests that Koreans have been making soy sauce for over 2,000 years, which is around the same time China started to make soy sauce.

Moreover, the earliest records that mention soy sauce in Korea were dated as early as 693 BC because soy sauce was at a royal wedding.

Is Kikkoman Korean Soy Sauce?

Kikkoman is not Korean soy sauce because Kikkoman is a Japanese brand of soy sauce.

Is Tamari Korean Soy Sauce?

Technically, tamari is not Korean soy sauce because tamari refers to a Japanese gluten-free soy sauce.

However, some types of Korean soy sauce may taste similar to tamari because many Korean soy sauces do not use wheat in the recipe.

What Is The Difference Between Korean Soy Sauce And Soy Sauce?

Generally, regular Korean soy sauce is very similar to regular Japanese and Chinese soy sauces, meaning there is little to no difference in terms of taste, color, and use.

Therefore, the main difference between Korean soy sauce and soy sauce is that Korean soy sauce is made in Korea following Korean methods.

However, Korean soup soy sauce is distinctly different from most soy sauces due to soup soy sauce’s mild, salty flavor and light color, making soup soy sauce more similar to light soy sauce.

What Can I Substitute For Korean Soy Sauce?

If you need regular Korean soy sauce, you may use any type of regular soy sauce such as Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce and Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce because they look and taste the same as Korean soy sauce.

However, you may opt for light soy sauce if you need an alternative to Korean soup soy sauce.

Read our related articles to learn what mushroom soy sauce is, what soup soy sauce is, and what low sodium soy sauce is.


Generally, regular Korean soy sauce is similar to Japanese and Chinese regular soy sauce and be used in most recipes that need soy sauce.

However, Korean soup soy sauce is a very salty and clean soy sauce, making soup soy sauce an ideal ingredient for soups, salads, and vegetable side dishes.

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