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So far, soy good: Skip the Kikkoman if you want to taste authentic Thai

If you've ever tried to cook Thai food at home and were disappointed, I'll bet I know why: You were using the wrong sauce. When the recipe called for soy sauce, you probably grabbed the bottle of Kikkoman sitting in your fridge. "You'd never use Kikkoman in Thai food, but people do, unfortunately," says Michael Long, culinary team leader and instructor at Seasoned Chef Cooking School. "It's the Heinz ketchup of soy sauce."

One authoritative cookbook I have, The Ultimate Thai and Asian Cookbook, goes so far as to say that Kikkoman should only be used as a dipping sauce, not for cooking.

So what do Thai chefs use instead? See also: A closer look at Thai Monkey Club

Sirishom Hakamjarn, co-owner of Thai Monkey Club, which I review this week, uses several kinds of soy sauce, mixing them in different proportions to achieve lighter, richer or sweeter flavors.

Light soy sauce is weak in flavor and has a light brown color. Dark soy, which is made from soybeans that have been left to ferment longer, has a much fuller, more robust flavor. There's also an Indonesian soy sauce called kecap manis, which is thick, black and sweet, and a lighter, weaker version called kecap asin, which is nicknamed white soy.

When you consider that few people have these sauces at their disposal, much less the oyster and fish sauces that are just as foundational to Thai cooking, you begin to see why take-out from Thai Monkey Club is such a good idea.


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