Kitchen Tips

What is so Unique about the Korean Soy Sauce – Ganjang

Korean condiments are known for their fiery flavours and unique ingredients that involves the process of fermentation.

 Soy Sauces are exquisitely used in the Southeast Asian cuisine and they are made from Soy beans. However, the Korean soy sauce begs to differ. Popularly known as ‘Joseon ganjang’ in Korean, the soy sauce is a byproduct of the production of Doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste) which uses the lacto bacteria for fermentation.

Unique about the Korean Soy Sauce - Ganjang


Image Courtesy: icatus used under the Creative Commons Licence 

There are two types in Ganjang Korean soy sauce, and they are categorized as regular soy sauce, (also known as Whe-Ganjang) and Traditional Korean soy sauce, Joseon Ganjang (also known as Guk-Ganjang).


Whe- Ganjang is the regular soy sauce that was first adopted by Koreans in the late 1800’s, and is widely used for marinating and braising. It is similar to other soy sauces commonly found in Japan. It’sWhe-Ganjang is sweet in taste, with lighter hints of saltiness and contains sugar and flavor enhancers. Wheat is used as a base ingredient to provide the sweet taste and to speed up the fermentation process.

Joseon Ganjang

Also known as Guk-Ganjang, this soy sauce is unique to Korean cooking. It as it is the purest form of soy sauce because its main ingredients are soybean, salt and water. It is more commonly used in Korean soups, Korean vegetable side dishes and seasoning other dishes. It is saltiery and lighter in colour, than Whe-Ganjang. A small amount is enough to season soups or vegetables while keeping the food colour intact.

 Most Koreans today use both whe-ganjang and joseon ganjang for cooking. However, all Korean cooking was done with Joseon Ganjang only as it was best used for marinating and braising and gives a deeper and cleaner flavour than Whe-Ganjang.

How to store soy sauce?

Ganjang Korean Soy Sauce

Image Courtesy: Jaysin Trevino used under the Creative Commons Licence 

Soy sauce can be preserved in room temperature in a cool, dry place. However, to increase its longevity, storing it in the refrigerator is also recommended. It is ideal to consume the soy sauce within two months after opening. If you see small frothy bubbles or foam on top of the soy sauce it is usually a sign that it has reached an expiry stage.

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