Soy sauce was originally invented in China during the 2nd century from “jiang”, meaning sauce. The use of soy sauce spread throughout Asian, main Southeast and East Asian. In time, light soy sauce called “jiangYou” has substituted the older style “jiang”, it is primarily made from fermented soy beans and wheat, with added salt and caramel. The gluten free version of light soy sauce is made from fermented soy beans and rice with added salt and caramel. Light soy sauce is extensive used in many traditional Asian cuisines, it is an essential sauce used as a seasoning for cooking as well as a condiment. It is salty and has less colour and gives a unique flavour to the palate.
Dark soy sauce, often referred to as thick soy sauce or sweet soy sauce in China and Southeast Asia, also called kecap manis in Indonesia, is a darker and thicker soy sauce made from light soy sauce and added dark brown sugar or molasses and sometimes caramel colour is also added to give it its unique dark colour and sweetness. In Indonesia, palm sugar is often added instead of brown sugar for kecap manis.
For my gluten free recipe, I have updated this post from 21st September 2015 and included two methods of making kecap manis (dark/thick soy sauce). First method is using blackstrap molasses together with gluten free light soy sauce and second method is using dark brown sugar together with gluten free light soy sauce. I prefer the first method of using blackstrap molasses as it is tastier with an earthy flavour and much healthier than dark brown sugar. Normally, kecap manis (darker and thick soy sauce) is used in cooking, resulting in more colour and sweeter flavour to a dish. It is less commonly used as a condiment. Frequently used in cooking stews or braises (casseroles), stir-fries, noodles and fried rice (nasi goreng) for Asian cuisines.This gluten free recipe is also vegan, dairy free, nut free and egg free.
I prefer to use Japanese Kikkoman brand of gluten free light soy sauce as it has a more aromatic sweeter flavour and darker colour compared to other brands of gluten free light soy sauce. For kecap manis (dark/thick soy sauce), I will add blackstrap molasses or dark brown sugar to Kikkoman’s gluten free light soy sauce to give a syrupy thick and sweet sauce. Ayam brand has a sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) and dark soy, available in Coles or Woolworths supermarket shelves in Australia. They can also be purchased from Ayam online store. The two brands of natural unsulphured blackstrap molasses available in Australia are Blue Label and Red Seal.
Dark brown sugar is refined white sugar with around 10 percent molasses added to it, giving it a pleasant toffee flavour and moisture but does not really have any huge nutritional values compared to refined white sugar. Due to the molasses added back into dark brown sugar, there’s a small amount of potassium, calcium, magnesium and other trace minerals but they are too trivial to provide any actual health benefits.
Whereas blackstrap molasses is a naturally caramel coloured dark and thick robust flavoured syrup obtained from the processing of sugar cane for bulk production of refined sugar. Molasses were previously sold as livestock feeds but as the nutritional benefits of molasses is recognised, different qualities of molasses are now commonly sold as refined sugar substitutes, baking ingredients and as mineral supplements. Molasses is also commonly used in sauces and marinades, as a flavour enhancer and is a well-liked ingredient in baking biscuits and breads. Types of molasses available are light or dark molasses, sulphured or unsulphured molasses and blackstrap molasses. With natural unsulphured blackstrap molasses being the utmost nutritious rank of molasses.
Blackstrap molasses contains essential minerals and vitamins for instance calcium, iron, magnesium, Phosphorus, potassium, selenium, vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). Blackstrap molasses has the lowest sugar substance with a moderate glycemic index (GI) of 55. Health benefits of blackstrap molasses include improving bone and teeth health, treat anaemia, supports healthy hair, promote healthy central nervous system, boost the immune system, aid wound healing and balance electrolytes in the body. As blackstrap molasses is low in sugar, it is also a good alternate sweetener for diabetics.
Disclosure Statement: I am NOT paid by Kikkoman, Blue Label, Red Seal or CSR for this post.