View Full Version : Is there a difference between soy sauce and soya sauce?

04-27-2004, 03:31 PM
DH & I have a favorite Chinese restaurant that we frequent often and have built up a kind of friendship with the owner and waitresses. I still find it a bit difficult to understand all of what they are saying, especially if they talk quickly, and something that the owner said has me confused. DH ordered chicken lo-mein for lunch the other day. It had a wonderful taste and fragrance similar to the mei-fun that I often order. This is an ingredient that I am unfamiliar with, and I have made Chinese food at home for over 20 years and have tried many different recipes. I asked him what the dominant smell was coming from the lo-mein and, after I assured him that it was a goodsmell, he said "soya sauce". I was under the impression that soy sauce was the same thing, and so I asked our waitress the same question. She, too, was alarmed until I told her that we thought the smell was wonderful! Then she said that it was "soya sauce and pepper".

So, what exactly is soya sauce? And does anyone cook with it on a regular basis and can tell me that it doesn't taste the same as soy sauce? I tried to find it at a grocery store and was unsuccessful. TIA!!!

04-27-2004, 03:42 PM
I was always under the impression that soya and soy were the same. There are different grades of soy sauce and different types of fermentation but I thought the word soya was just more Europian in use.

Shirley Ekstein
04-27-2004, 03:47 PM
We used to call it 'soya' sauce over here in the '60's - but it very soon became, and remains, 'soy' sauce.
And yes, Victoria - they are exactly the same thing, 'a' or no 'a'.

04-27-2004, 03:55 PM
Geez, that wasn't the answer I had hoped for!!! I've been trying to replicate their recipe for mei-fun, and this one mystery ingredient has me stumped because it makes the dish! It's a wonderful fragrance and taste I was sure that "soya sauce" was it!

I asked the waitress if she could find out what the sauce ingredients are, but she said that the cook won't tell her! Maybe they're just protecting a "trade secret", but I'm unsure of what to try next. Oh well, back to the drawing board, as they say...

04-27-2004, 04:02 PM
They may be using the Japanese version of soy sauce called Shoyu sauce. It is supposed to taste different that Soy Sauce.

Shirley Ekstein
04-27-2004, 04:10 PM
Have just been out to kitchen for a quick taste-test cos have got Tamari (a Japanese Soy), one labelled 'Shoyu', a bottle of Kikkoman Soy and one ordinary bog-standard supermarket soy - would say the weight of each is slightly different, but the taste is v similar - the Tamari seems to be the strongest one.
So why have I so many different ones?
Heaven knows.

04-27-2004, 04:14 PM
Are there not different types of soy as in black soy, light soy etc? I know I've got four here, one of which is simply a low sodium soy (so who cares?)

Or am I hallucinating?

Shirley Ekstein
04-27-2004, 04:18 PM
Yeah, course there's light soy and dark soy, Gail - but aren't the ones I mentioned all dark ones?
(Have got light soy - didn't comparison-taste that one - but I know it's saltier than the dark ones - maybe I'd better get back into kitchen. . . )

04-27-2004, 04:32 PM
That wasn't what I meant exactly-- oh, and HI SHIRLEY! -- It's termed "black soy sauce" and is apparently Thai, not to be confused with Chinese dark sauce. I have info here I can type up, if you want...

04-27-2004, 04:32 PM
OK, so now I'm confused! I thought mei-fun was just Chinese for rice sticks!

04-27-2004, 04:42 PM
Mei Fun are rice sticks, but in the Chinese restaurant they have a section called "Mei Fun" and in that are choices of chicken mei fun, beef mei fun, pork mei fun, etc. I guess I forgot to write chicken mei fun in my initial post. I am hoping to get any mei fun recipe because I could always change ingredients, but I just want to find out what this "mystery" ingredient is.

04-27-2004, 04:52 PM
Anyway, I think Shirley logged off and went to bed. I won't bother to type up the thing because I don't think it's pertinent to your recipe, but it IS sauce different from any Shirley listed, and apparently it's something used in Thai cooking. And since YOUR recipe is Chinese, I wouldn't figure they'd be using Thai soy sauce. Probably.

I suspect the soy isn't the "secret." I'm sure people are searching for recipes as we speak. Stay tuned.

04-27-2004, 04:55 PM
Found a Singapore mei fun but it's shrimp and pork...
Guess I should check my Singapore cookbook for a recipe!
Singapore Mei Fun

5 oz. Shrimp (shelled)
5 oz. Barbecued pork
1 Egg
1/2 C. Celery (1"long)
1 C. Bean Sprouts
1/2 C. Spring onion (1"long)
1/2 Egg white (to marinate shrimp)
1/2 Tbsp. Cornstarch (to marinate shrimp)
10 oz. Vermicelli
10 Tbsp. Oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. Curry
1/2 tsp. Salt
Seasoning Sauce
1 Tbsp. Soy sauce (light)
1/4 tsp. Black pepper
1/2 Soup stock
1 tsp. Salt

Soak vermicelli in water for 15 minutes until soft. Marinate shrimp with 1/2T. cornstarch and egg white. Beat egg and make a large round thin pancake, cut into shreds. Stir-fry shrimp in 4T. oil, add bean sprouts, celery and season with 1/2t. salt. Turn off heat, add spring onion and mix well. Stir-fry curry in 6T. oil, add the soaked vermicelli. Use chopsticks to mix well, then pour the seasoning sauce in. Cover and cook over low heat for 3 minutes. Put all ingredients into pan and mix well with cooked vermicelli. Serve.

04-27-2004, 04:55 PM
I'm trying to locate recipes, and I figure once I find a few I can look to see what the common ingredients are! DH is complaining now, though, something about it's 7:00 and I haven't started dinner yet... doesn't he realize that I'm on a quest?!?! :p

I'll try again later. Soy, soya... maybe I can sneak into their kitchen at the restaurant!

04-27-2004, 05:07 PM
Found this from earlier this year when a request was made for mei fun:


DH is beginning to get really hungry, so I must tear myself away...

04-27-2004, 07:01 PM
Well, if you change the spelling, there's also this one: http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/getrecipe.zsp?id=88707

Maybe more that way, but I've got to run!