Soy sauce is used worldwide thanks to its rich flavor that can take your dish to a new level. You can add it to all types of dishes from soups to stir-fries, stews, and salads. There are two types of soy sauce, one dark soy sauce, and one light soy sauce.
We will discuss the main difference between these types of soy sauce as well in this guide. However, what to do if you have a recipe that calls for dark soy sauce and you don’t have it? Or you don’t want to use it?
The good news is that there are several options you can use instead of this soy sauce. One of the best alternatives to dark soy sauce is Teriyaki sauce or simply light soy sauce. But let’s look better at the rest of the substitutes you can use.
Substitutes for Dark Soy Sauce
The following substitutes will go great in all your recipes and they will give you an interesting flavor even without the dark soy sauce.
1. Teriyaki sauce
As we mentioned, Teriyaki sauce might be one of the best options to use instead of dark soy sauce. It has the same dark and glossy color that will make all your food look appealing.
You can use the same amount of teriyaki sauce instead of dark soy sauce in many dishes from stir-fries to salads and soups.
The flavor is also very similar to the dark soy sauce one as it has a sweet yet salty taste. As a matter of fact, Teriyaki sauce also contains soy sauce as well as ginger and garlic.
2. Light soy sauce
Light soy sauce is a great substitute for dark soy sauce. Especially, if you don’t necessarily want to get the dark shade in your food that dark soy sauce would give you.
The taste will be fairly similar and you can use the same quantity as well. If you use light soy sauce on any dish that contains meat, you will get the umami flavor which goes great with all dishes in Asian cuisine.
3. Oyster sauce
Another great substitute for dark soy sauce is oyster sauce. This sauce has also a sweet and salty flavor but it also tastes like oysters. Therefore, if you don’t like the oysters’ flavor, you might not like this alternative either.
Oyster sauce goes great with dishes that contain fish as well as with vegetable dishes. You can use it in the same quantity as dark soy sauce and enjoy a delicious umami flavor.
4. Hoisin sauce
Hoisin sauce is quite popular in Asian cuisine. It can go great as a marinade for beef, duck, chicken, and even pork. You can use it on veggies as well and it makes for a good replacement for dark soy sauce.
This sauce also contains sesame seeds, chili peppers, and garlic. Thus, you should expect a variety of flavors. It will enrich the taste of your food but it will also make it taste different than if you added dark soy sauce.
5. Worcestershire sauce
Worcestershire sauce can also replace dark soy sauce in many recipes. This sauce is salty and it also has a pungent flavor so you will definitely not end up with a bland dish.
But you will have to expect a more watery consistency as well as less sweetness from this sauce, compared to dark soy sauce.
Other than that, you can add the same quantity of Worcestershire sauce to your recipe as if you would add dark soy sauce and you will not go wrong.
6. Mushroom flavored soy sauce
The mushroom-flavored soy sauce is usually dark in color. So, you can definitely use it to replace dark soy sauce in all your dishes.
This sauce contains dark soy sauce as well as mushrooms and other ingredients. Thus, you can use it in the same ratio with regular dark soy sauce but take into account that your food will have a mushroom taste as well.
7. Balsamic vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is not one of the first options. But it can save you in case you don’t have any other alternative. It is sweet and sour and has the dark color you want in your food.
When you use balsamic vinegar of any kind instead of dark soy sauce make sure to add less of it or dilute it with water. You can add half of the dark soy sauce quantity as its taste is stronger and more acidic. This is a great option for salads and other cold dishes.
8. Fish sauce
Just like oyster sauce can replace dark soy sauce, fish sauce can be a great substitute as well. It will naturally have a stronger fish flavor so it will taste great with fish or seafood dishes.
You can use this sauce in all dishes that require any type of soy sauce but you will have to reduce the quantity. If you were planning to use a cup of dark soy sauce in your food, you will want to add half a cup of fish sauce to obtain the umami taste you love.
Tamari can also be a great substitute for dark soy sauce. It has a similar flavor to soy sauce as it is also a sauce made of soybeans. It is also a gluten-free sauce and has a similar quantity of salt as the regular dark soy sauce.
The color might not be the same. However, if you don’t mind this aspect, you can use Tamari in any recipe that calls for dark soy sauce. You can also maintain the same 1:1 ratio and you will get a rich umami flavor.
10. Miso paste
Miso paste is similar to dark soy sauce in terms of taste but it is not the same. You can find miso in a paste form case in which you will have to dilute it in water to obtain a sauce or simply add the paste to your soup or stew.
In terms of quantity, miso paste can be used with a ratio of 1 tablespoon for every cup of dark soy sauce. The color of your food will not be as dark as you expect it but the taste will be a very inviting one.
How Do You Make Dark Soy Sauce?
If you can’t find dark soy sauce at supermarkets, you might be tempted to make it at home. You will glad to know that this is not difficult at all.
To make dark soy sauce at home you will need two cups of dark brown sugar, half a cup of water, and one cup of regular soy sauce. All you have to do is add the water and sugar to a container and put it on the stove.
Allow this mix to boil until you see that the sugar melted completely and you obtained a liquid with the consistency of a syrup. After you let the water and sugar boil together, you can add the soy sauce mixing constantly.
You will notice the liquid becoming thicker as you mix. When the ingredients blended together and you obtained a liquid that looks like molasses you can remove it from the stove and allow it to cool down.
Once your dark soy sauce is cooled down, store it in the refrigerator in a sealed container. You can store it like that for several weeks as long as you make sure the container is sealed.
What’s the Difference Between Regular Soy Sauce and Dark Soy Sauce?
Now that you know the best replacements for dark soy sauce but also how you can make this ingredient at home, you might wonder why is it so different from regular soy sauce.
As you noticed from the recipe of homemade dark soy sauce, you will add brown sugar to a regular soy sauce. This gives dark soy sauce an increased level of sweetness compared to regular soy sauce.
Also, the difference in color will be quite obvious. Light soy sauce has a watery color while dark soy sauce comes in a darker brownish shade. But you can still use them interchangeably.
Dark soy sauce can offer your food a delicious flavor. However, if you don’t have this ingredient at hand, there is no need to panic.
You can use some of the substitutes we mentioned above or even make your own dark soy sauce at home. Get creative in the kitchen and enjoy new flavors.