Which Soy Sauce Is Best For Fried Rice? (And Other Flavorings)


When it comes to making fried rice in Chinese and other Asian cuisines, there are typically a few key ingredients that you’ll need: rice, vegetables, aromatics, and soy sauce. But which type of soy sauce is best for fried rice? And what brands should you use?

In most fried rice dishes you can just use a light soy sauce which will give you that familiar salty taste and umami flavoring. To give the dish a darker color and deeper taste, you can combine this with a dark soy sauce as well.

I’ve done some research on the best soy sauce brands to use and will show you in this article how to add them to your fried rice to achieve some really tasty dishes.

Best Soy Sauce And Brands To Buy 

If you’ve ever wandered down the soy sauce aisle in an Asian food store, you will most likely have been amazed by the sheer number of different soy-based sauces available! There are different brands and types covering all the flavors of Asia including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and more.

In this article, I’m going to concentrate on the types and brands of soy sauce typically used in Chinese dishes, which tend to be what most people associate with fried rice. I will also mention some of the common ‘all-purpose’ type brands along the way.

Light Vs Dark Soy Sauce

Light and dark soy sauce are made in similar ways but the dark is left to age for longer. Light is used in stir fries and dipping for its salty flavor. It’s thinner, saltier, and is the go-to sauce for most recipes.

Dark soy sauce has a stronger flavor of soy and is thicker, meaning it tastes a bit more full-bodied than light soy. It’s also very dark and will stain dishes a deep brown color. It’s used to add color and richness to stews.

Light Soy Sauce Brands

In Chinese cooking, when the majority of recipes call for ‘soy sauce’ without specifying light or dark, they are referring to a light soy sauce. There are a few popular brands you can try including:

  • Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce
  • Pearl River Bridge Superior Light Soy Sauce
  • Kimlan Soy Sauce
  • Wan Ja Shan Soy Sauce

This type of sauce can be used for most things in Chinese cuisine including fried rice so they’re a great all-rounder to have in your store cupboard.

Tip: Even within the individual brands you will often find different varieties but if you look for bottles that have the words “organic” or “aged” on them then these will usually be the best to go for.

Dark Soy Sauce Brands

Dark soy sauces can add an extra depth of color and flavor to your meal as they are thicker, stronger tasting, and slightly sweeter due to the added sugar. Some fried rice recipes will call for both light and dark soy sauces so they’re both useful to have to hand.

Popular brands you will find available in Asian food markets include:

  • Lee Kum Kee Premium Dark Soy Sauce
  • Pearl River Bridge Superior Dark Soy Sauce
  • Kimlan Lou Chau Soy Sauce (Dark)

All-Purpose Soy Sauces

There are other popular brands you will see in regular grocery stores as well as on the tables in restaurants, with two of the best-known being Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce and Yamasa Shoyu Artisanal Soy Sauce. 

Both of these are Japanese sauces and can be considered a good ‘all-purpose’ soy sauce that doesn’t need mixing.

How Much Soy Sauce To Use For Fried Rice

To season fried rice, start with around 1 tablespoon (15ml) of light soy sauce for each cup (250 ml) of cooked rice. If you want to add some dark soy sauce as well then use around 1 teaspoon (5 ml) for each cup of cooked rice.

The amount of soy sauce you’ll need to use will depend on your own personal tastes and how much fried rice you’re making. 

You will also need to adjust quantities for other ingredients and flavorings you’re using. 

You can always add more later if you think it needs it but it’s best to err on the side of caution to begin with. Adding too much in one go can leave you with very salty fried rice – or too much liquid which is another problem.

If you’re using more than one type of sauce make sure to mix it up beforehand rather than add them separately to the pan as this will give your rice dish a more even flavor.

See my full post on using soy sauce in stir fries, including some interesting things to mix with soy.

When To Add Soy Sauce To Fried Rice

Most recipes add soy sauce towards the end of cooking as it doesn’t need any cooking and usually you don’t want to evaporate any off. By adding it once all your ingredients are added, you can accurately season the dish.

If you just want to make up your own fried rice dish then follow the very brief steps below to get an idea of when to add your soy sauce for the best results:

  1. Stir fry your meat or other protein and set aside once cooked
  2. Scramble some eggs if you’re using them and remove them from the pan when cooked
  3. Fry your aromatics (onions then garlic etc.) and harder vegetables such as carrots until tender
  4. Add your cooked rice and any softer veggies until the rice is slightly browned and everything is cooked through.
  5. Add the eggs and meat/protein back to the pan
  6. Once you’ve added all your other ingredients and the rice is cooked through, add your soy sauce and sesame oil, give it a good stir then taste.

Check out my post on the order to cook a stir fry to avoid overcooking your ingredients.

What Else Gives Fried Rice Its Flavor?

Fried rice can be as simple as using rice, eggs, and seasonings or a dish to use up all the leftovers in your fridge. When the ingredients can be so simple but still taste great, the key to getting restaurant-quality fried rice first comes down to the wok technique. These are the key things to give fried rice its flavor:

  • Wok hei – this is the charred taste that food takes on when cooked in a very hot wok from caramelization and smoking hot oil. Make sure the pan is smoking before adding any oil.
  • Jasmine rice – this rice has a fragrant flavor and separates well. Make sure it’s been allowed to cool – wet rice will clump up.
  • Egg – allow the egg to scramble in hot oil before mixing in the rice.
  • Sesame oil – this oil is used as a finishing oil rather than cooking oil to give a toasted flavor.
  • Vegetables – onions and bell peppers frying are the smell of Asian cooking for me. Peas, carrots, or greens are used too.
  • Thai-style fried rice will have fish sauce and oyster sauce instead of soy sauce and is served with lime slices.
  • Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng) will have a spice paste of shallot, garlic, and chili and use sweet soy sauce (kecap manis).

Check out this great video of the technique used to get the flavor in a simple egg fried rice:

Conclusion

There are lots of different soy sauces on the market and it can be tricky to know which sauce is best for fried rice and other dishes. Hopefully, you’ve picked up some useful tips from my article and next time you’ll have a better idea of which one to use.

To recap, in general, light soy sauce is a good all-purpose condiment that can be used in many different fried rice dishes without overpowering them. However, if you want a more intense flavor and color then mixing in some dark soy sauce is a good option to try.

Remember, you can always add more soy sauce (or any other seasoning) later if you think your dish needs it. So start with a small amount and adjust as necessary. 

Don’t be afraid to try out other ingredients and seasonings as well – a little bit of trial and error is all part of the fun.

Tom

Hey, I'm Tom. I set up Boss The Kitchen to start answering the thousands of questions people have while cooking. For me, the kitchen is my happy place and I hope to help other people with the knowledge I've gained along the way.

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