A while back I made some Nor Mai Gai for a friend. He commented that his family found it a bit salty for their taste (my mom had said something along these lines, too ...). So, I looked at the ingredients and noticed that the only real place where I could reduce the salt was in the soy sauce.
So, I set out to find alternative soy sauces to use. I visited all the local stores and only found Kikkoman's, Kikkoman's Light, and Silver Swan.
Now, you may be looking at the picture with this post and saying "but kuya James, where is the Silver Swan soy sauce in that picture?" Let me explain. Silver Swan is a Filipino soy sauce. It's perfect for Filipino dishes. They taste wrong if not made with this sauce. It's also cheap. A gallon is about P100 (US$2.00 right now). Can't beat that price!
"What does it taste like, kuya?" Honestly, it tastes like most other soy sauces. Just a mild difference in strength. If Kikkoman's is Lea Salonga holding your hand, looking into your eyes, and smiling while singing love songs to you with her golden voice ... Silver Swan is like Manny Pacquiao showing you why one of his nicknames is Pambansang Kamao ("National Fist").
Not exactly the subtle soy sauce that I want for most of the recipes I cook. So, I'll skip it.
Fortunately, I was told about a Chinese store that had a brand I'd never used: White Horse. I went down to the mercado and managed to find the store. This isn't always so easy as not all stores well marked and street numbers seem to be a luxury still not enjoyed here.
First, a price comparison. Kikkoman's is P111 per liter. White Horse is P100 per liter. Kikkoman's Light is P275 per liter (wow!). Obviously, I want to avoid the Kikkoman's Light if possible.
Most importantly, the taste comparison. I used the Kikkoman's as the base. All my life I've seen Kikkoman's in Asian restaurants. It's flavor is so familiar. I'm pretty sure that my blood is part soy sauce ... most likely Kikkoman's.
I compared the Kikkoman's to the Kikkoman's Light. The Kikkoman's Light is definitely less salty than the regular Kikkoman's. But, the Light has this bitter aftertaste.
Then, I tried the White Horse and compared it to the Kikkoman's. Less salt taste but still smooth. No aftertaste.
White Horse is definitely the way to go. It's the least expensive, least amount of sodium, and still manages to have a smooth taste. Unless I'm making Filipino food, I'm going to use White Horse in the future (once I've used up my stash of Kikkoman's ... don't want to waste it).
I'm really glad that I did this test I should do this with other ingredients that I've simply taken for granted over the years.