This is one of the secret weapon of real Sichuan dishes, Sichuan sweetened soy sauce (复制酱油). In Sichuan cuisine, it is also known as combined soy sauce. The soy sauce is simmered with brown sugar and lots of other spices and thus can provide a very unique and profound aroma to cold dishes and noodles. It is almost unknown for people out of the particular area but I still want to introduce this to all Sichuan food lovers. With one bottle of this sweetened soy sauce, you can enhance your Sichuan style cold dishes to the next level.
We use traditional soy sauce which is something between light soy sauce and dark soy sauce originated from Cantonese cuisine. If no soy sauce found, use 1 and ½ cup light soy sauce and ½ cup of dark soy sauce.
The purpose of making sweetened soy sauce
- Remove the raw flavors of soy sauce.
- Comparing with original soy sauce, this sweetened soy sauce has much stronger flavor bought by herbs and spices.
- Sweetened soy sauce has a better attaching capacity comparing than regular soy sauce and thus can give food much stronger flavor.
How to use sweetened soy sauce
- Use it in Sichuan style salad like pork slices in garlic sauce, red oil pig ear and other Sichuan style cold dishes as an enhanced choice for regular soy sauce.
- Use in stock or soup bases for example in red oil wonton or red oil dumplings.
- Use in stewed or braised dishes.
Be careful at the end of the heating because the content can overflow very quickly. I recommend using a larger pot.
Let the spices soak in the soy sauce can make the combination even better. So if you are not in a hurry, pre-make the soy sauce in the previous day.
1.Soak all of the spices with hot water for 30 minutes. Discard the water. On one hand, this helps to remove any medical flavors from the spices and on the other hand, this can speed up the release of the aroma from the spices.
2.Place soy sauce, sugar, water and spices in a pot, bring to a boil and then slow down the fire and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let the spices soak in the soy sauce for 1 hour or overnight.
3.Stain to get the soy sauce and then place in an oil free air tight container for 1 month.
Sichuan sweetened soy sauce
- 2 cups soy sauce 1.5 cup light soy sauce + 0.5 cup dark soy sauce
- ¾ cup brown sugar for a lighter version, you can use ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. rock sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 thumb ginger , smashed
- 2 onion sections , smashed
- 2 star anise
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 clove
- 2 pieces sand ginger , optional
- 1 piece dried tangerine
- 1 Cao Guo (also known as black cardamom )
- Soak all of the spices with hot water for 30 minutes. Discard the water. On one hand, this helps to remove any medical flavors from the spices and on the other hand, this can speed up the release of the aroma from the spices.
- Place soy sauce, sugar, water and spices in a pot, bring to a boil and then slow down the fire and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let the spices soak in the soy sauce for 1 hour or overnight.
- Stain to get the soy sauce and then place in an oil free air tight container for 1 month.
Hi Elaine, do you have any hints about the traditional soy sauce? Like the Chinese name of it or a picture of a popular brand?
There are several brands here. It should be named as "soy bean soy sauce" , not light soy sauce or dark soy sauce. It is a very traditional branch.
I was curious about the traditional soy sauce too so thank you for the previous question. Can the rock sugar be replaced by regular sugar or natural sugar? Thanks
Yes, you can even skip rock sugar and use 100% raw sugar.
Is there a substitute that I can use for Cao Guo?
No, there is no substitute for Cao Guo. However you can skip it if can't find.
Is Cao Guo and "Seeds of Paradise" the same thing? Apparently they both tase a bit like peppery cardamom, but I have never had either so I don't know. I can get Seeds of Paradise, but no one here knows what Cao Guo is, so it might be the same. Do you know?
No. They are not the same, Karin! Cao guo, or Chinese cardamom, is a species of black cardamom related to Indian black cardamom but subtly different in look and flavor. You can get it via https://themalamarket.com/products/cao-guo-chinese-black-cardamom.
What do you mean by onion sections? My definition may not be the same as yours. Size, and type of onion?
Scallion or green onion sections. Watch the video please.
First of all: i love your site and the recipes!!!
I have a question. I made the sweetend soy sauce today . It tastes amazing. But i thougt it would get a little bit thicker so it stucks better to the noodles. Is there a way to make it a littlr bit stickier?
Add a very small batch of starch, Evelien!! I know some of the restaurants use this method.
Would this be a good substitute for dark soy sauce? I am gluten free and it is hard to find gf dark soy sauce where I am. Just thinking out loud since this sweetened soy sauce is very dark in color.
Merci chef, je me régale avec cette sauce( j'en mets un peu sur tout). Bien amicalement de la France Chris 06
Wow, this will be a staple in my cupboard, it is delicious! Made it just as written using 1/2 cup brown sugar. The flavors are amazing. I did let mine sit for about 24 hours before straining. I have been using on breakfast noodles with leftover veg and blanched greens with chili crisp. Can't believe it took me this long to try the recipe.
Love to hear you find the lovely taste. Love you.