Tamari is a particular variety of rich, dark soy sauce from Japan. Tamari is sometimes called miso-damari, a reference to the fact that it is in fact a by-product of miso making. The dark liquid produced by miso paste as it ages. Unlike most soy sauces, tamari is made with little or no wheat. Because of this, tamari is often marketed as a wheat and gluten-free sauce (though certain brands or varieties may have a small amount of wheat).
It is worth noting that tamari is not simply a gluten-free soy sauce (nor is it always gluten-free); because of the ingredients and the way it is produced, it is richer, darker, a little thicker, and more mellow than many conventional soy sauces. It’s also worth noting that soy sauces in general can vary enormously in colour and flavour.
Other names: Tamari is the only term commonly used for this sauce, though you may occasionally see it referred to as tamari soy sauce or the aforementioned miso-damari. In Japanese, tamari is たま while miso-damari is 味噌溜り.
It is worth noting that tamari is only one of many types of Japanese soy sauces, so check the labels and, if necessary, the ingredients when shopping.
If, however, you’re choosing tamari explicitly to avoid wheat or gluten, be sure to examine the ingredients and/or look for a brand that specifically advertises this fact.
Tamari requires no particular preparation.
Tamari should be stored in a cool, dark, dry pantry, or in the refrigerator.
As a general rule, tamari must be produced using traditional brewing methods in order to actually qualify as tamari (and not a simple un-brewed soy sauce), though it may be worth noting the techniques and any preservatives used by various brands. Ideally, a more traditional, longer-brewed tamari will have a better and more balanced flavour.
‘Lite’ salt-reduced tamari varieties are also available – these tend to have 20-30% less sodium than standard varieties.
Many tamari brands are certified organic. It’s also worth noting that some conventional brands are certified GMO free, soybeans being one of the most common genetically modified food products on Earth.
Chinese dark soy sauce probably has the most in common with tamari in that it is richly coloured and bold but mellow in flavour. Light soy sauces, in contrast, tend to be saltier and brasher in flavour.