Shoyu, commonly referred to as soy sauce outside of Japan, is famously recognized for its use both as an ingredient and condiment. Made from soybeans, wheat, salt and a fermenting agent, soy sauce is produced using two methods: the traditional brewing (fermentation) method and the non-brewed (chemical hydrolyzation) method. The fermentation method is much more elaborate, taking up to six months to finish and results in a transparent, exquisitely colored stock with a balanced aroma and savor. The non-brewed method takes only two days to make the sauce and is often cloudy with a chemical aroma and harsher taste. Soy sauce’s roots can be traced back to the Han Dynasty in China, where soybeans replaced earlier variants of the sauce as the main ingredient because they were easy to harvest, even on inferior land. Around the 13th century, the soybean fermentation process was introduced to Japan through what many believe to be the introduction of Buddhism. During the Kamakura period, a high priest named Kakushin trained at the Kinzaji temple in China, where he discovered a miso making method. The miso that he made was known as “Kinzaji Miso” and he spread it to the Wakayama prefecture upon his return. The liquid that was leftover in the miso barrel was called tamari, and this is said to be the origin of soy sauce in Japan. It is important to note that tamari soy sauce and soy sauce are not the same, and this can be seen through the differences in the way they are made. Soy sauce is made from a mixture of soybeans, wheat, and salt, which are brewed together and left to ferment. It is then pressed to release the liquid.
Tamari on the other hand is the liquid byproduct that is produced when making miso paste. In the Edo period, the Japanese took Hishio (an early relative of soy sauce) and put their own spin on it by using barley (and later wheat), replacing soybeans as the primary ingredient. Through the combination of soybeans and wheat, Japanese shoyu is produced in a way that brings out its unique and rich flavor. These are the beginnings of standard soy sauce as we know it today.
Soy sauce has long been used as a flavor enhancer for various types of cuisine due to its incredibly adaptive nature. The high glutamic acid content in soy sauce has been identified as both an umami contributor and flavor potentiator, allowing it to tenderize meat and bring out its natural flavors. Here in the United States, soy sauce is used as a seasoning, salad dressing, a marinade for meats and vegetables, and a clever additive for removing the fishy smell from seafood.
We are excited to announce that the Owari Soy Sauce from the Sato Brewery in the Aichi prefecture will soon be available for purchase on our website. A very rich shoyu with a strong umami, the Owari Soy Sauce is of the premium variety and contains 1.5 times more umami flavor than your average soy sauce. Due to the high volume of polysaccharides, this sauce is the ideal complement for cooking teriyaki, amongst many other types of fare.