A number of years ago, I asked my friend and legendary Japanese food expert Elizabeth Andoh about tamari. Is it gluten-free? She looked at me and in a thoughtful, slow manner said, “Not necessarily. It could be but not always is.” In her book, Washoku, Elizabeth explains that tamari is the super dark and intense soy sauce that’s often accumulated at the bottom of large vats of soy sauce. It’s typically used for sashimi. In America, what’s often labeled as tamari often contains little or no wheat but that is not what defines tamari.
So, that explains why when you go to market to buy gluten-free tamari, there are gluten-free soy sauces available too. Both more or less signal the same thing. Asian ingredients can be so darn confusing.
I've been collecting gluten-free soy sauces and tried them side by side. Here are my impressions and I hope you’ll share yours!