I've noticed that a lot of Thai dishes call for thick black soy sauce, but they rarely specify the type. Occasionally, a recipe will specify a certain brand, and sometimes they'll note if you should use the "sweet" (pad see ew, pad kee mao, etc.) or "regular" (pad ka prao, etc.).
When looking, I'll usually stick with Healthy Boy, since that seems to be the standard (and the most widely available in the US). When I get to the local Asian market, though, I'm confronted with about 5 or 6 types of Healthy Boy soy sauce, each of which says "Black Soy Sauce."
Within those, I've been able to narrow it down to three major types so far:
- Black Soy Sauce – Thick, salty, sweet, strong flavor
- Sweet Black Soy Sauce – Thick, somewhat salty, very sweet, strong flavor. Not always labeled "sweet"
- Light/Thin Black Soy – Thinner consistency (similar to regular soy sauce). I have never tried this.
While it's easy to tell the light from the others (just flip over the bottle), telling the difference between the sweet and regular is not always as easy. Thankfully, Healthy Boy color-codes the bottles. So far, I have seen:
- Light Orange (regular?)
- Dark Orange ("stir fry seasoning with soy sauce?")
- Green (says Black Soy Sauce B, I think. High sugar content, mostly additive)
- Red (sometimes says "sweet")
- White (sometimes says "sweet")
- Yellow – thin/light
- Yellow – thick
Each of those typically have varying sugar/salt contents, and have anywhere from 3 to 10 ingredients. Some are also labeled "Natural Ferment" (sub-questions: What does this mean? Does it matter?)
Just going by the bottle color, is there an easy way to tell the difference between all of these? Also, are certain colors more suited to certain dishes?
(I've also seen a couple Bronze and White that are mushroom and oytser flavored respectively, but this isn't about those ones.)