Tamari is an increasingly popular ingredient in the UK, but perhaps you’re not sure exactly what it is.
In this article, we will discover what tamari is, what tamari tastes like and how you can use it in your cooking.
We’ll also explore whether tamari is healthy or not, and things to consider when adding it to your diet.
Read on to answer your questions and learn all about tamari.
It’s dark in colour and the consistency is liquid – although somewhat less runny than soy sauce.Tamari has been around for centuries and is used widely in Japanese cooking.2
Tamari is similar to soy sauce in that it has a rich, full-bodied flavour with a salty tang. It’s been described as less sharp and salty than soy sauce.
The answer is – yes! You can substitute soy sauce for tamari.
Remember, soy sauce is actually the generic name given to any sauce made from soya beans. As tamari is made from fermented soya beans, technically tamari is a soy sauce.
However, in the UK, the soy sauce most of us know is the Chinese variety - a dark, runny liquid with a salty, strong flavour.
Due to their similar consistency and flavour profile, tamari can be used in place of soy sauce in countless recipes. As tamari doesn’t contain any wheat, many people use tamari in place of soy sauce when creating gluten-free dishes.
Here are our top reasons to switch soy sauce for tamari next time you’re in the kitchen:
A key difference between tamari and regular soy sauce is that regular soy sauce contains wheat, whereas tamari doesn’t. This means regular soy sauce is not gluten-free, whereas tamari generally is gluten-free.
It’s important to note that if you’re coeliac or intolerant to gluten, it’s important to always check that the products you’re eating are verified gluten-free.
Since you’ll probably only be consuming up to a tablespoon at a time, this shouldn’t make much difference overall, but it’s worth knowing if you’re closely monitoring your macronutrient intake.
Tamari’s flavour could be described as less briny and salty than regular soy sauce. This makes it great for use as part of a dipping sauce or glaze which doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the dish with saltiness.
Tamari isn’t as runny as soy sauce and is thicker even than dark soy sauce. It’s more akin to hoisin sauce in texture, which means dressings and marinades made with tamari cling more evenly to ingredients without sliding off and pooling at the bottom of the bowl.
Along with fermented soybeans, tamari ingredients tend to just be fermented soybeans, salt, water and a preservative.
Used in Japanese cooking for centuries, tamari is a versatile ingredient to have on hand in the kitchen. Here are some ideas:
Tamari and soy sauce are both derived from fermented soya beans and are similar in terms of nutrition.
There are slight differences, however.At just 15 calories and 0g fat per tablespoon, tamari can be enjoyed as part of a weight loss diet.6 It’s gluten-free, so suitable for coeliacs and those with a gluten intolerance.
It also contains a little protein – 2g per tablespoon.Be warned – tamari is high in salt. Although it’s lower in sodium than soy sauce, tamari still packs a salty punch with up to 830mg sodium per tablespoon – that’s 42% of the recommended daily amount.7
Luckily, a little goes a long way. A tablespoon or two should be enough for most family-sized dishes.1 tablespoon of tamari also contains small amounts of the B vitamin folate (3.2mcg) as well as choline (6.9mg).8
Last updated: 11 February 2021
Author: Donia Hilal, Nutritionist
Donia started her career as a freelance nutritionist, later she joined Nestle as their Market Nutritionist to help support their healthier product range, before joining the team at Holland & Barrett in January 2018. Donia has 6 years experience as a Nutritionist and also works with clients on a one to one basis to support their goals which include weight loss, prenatal and postnatal nutrition and children’s health.Donia has a special interest in; weight management, plant-based nutrition, pregnancy nutrition, special diets and disease risk reduction. Donia's LinkedIn profile