Tamari is often billed as an alternative to soy sauce, particularly for those with a gluten intolerance/allergy. But what is Tamari, and how does it taste different from soy sauce? Let’s take a closer look!
What Is Tamari?
Like soy sauce, Tamari is a Japanese sauce/condiment made from fermented soybeans. However, while soy sauce is usually fermented with wheat or wheat flour, tamari is fermented with little to no wheat.
Tamari originated as a by-product of miso (Japanese fermented soybean paste) production. While it may contain no wheat at all, some tamaris do contain trace amounts, so if avoiding gluten due to an allergy, always check the ingredients on the label and make sure to use tamari labeled “gluten-free.” Alternatively you could also just look for a gluten-free soy sauce.
Some say that tamari is less salty than regular soy sauce, but its sodium levels are actually pretty comparable, at about 1000mg per tablespoon. Generally tamari has a slightly thicker consistency than soy sauce and more of a soy-forward, complex, and mildly sweet flavor that balances out the saltiness.
How Is It Used?
Tamari is good for dipping sauces and other raw applications, and can also be used as a substitute for soy sauce.
However, Tamari is generally slightly more expensive, so that may not be the best option for braises and other recipes that require a lot of soy sauce.
Buying & Storing
Tamari can be found in Asian grocery stores as well as regular supermarkets these days, due to its reputation as a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce.
If using tamari due to a gluten allergy, look for the gluten-free distinction on the label and always check the ingredients. As you can see, none of the tamari brands below have a gluten-free stamp on the label.
In the photograph below of gluten-free soy sauces, however, every label (whether it’s soy sauce or tamari) indicates that the product is gluten-free.
Store in a cool, dry place like the pantry, or refrigerate for longer shelf life.
If you have further questions about tamari, let us know in the comments––we try to answer every single one!