Soy sauce, or soya sauce, is produced by fermenting soybeans with the molds Aspergillus oryzae and Aspergillus soyae along with roasted grain, water, and salt. Soy sauce was invented in China, where it has been used as a condiment for close to 2,500 years. In its various forms, it is widely used in East and Southeast Asian cuisines and increasingly appears in Western cuisine and prepared foods.//
Soy sauce originated in China and spread from there to East and Southeast Asia. Like many salty condiments, soy sauce was probably originally a way to stretch salt, historically an expensive commodity. The recipe for Chinese soy sauce, é…±æ²¹ jiÃ ngyÃ³u, originally included fermented fish as well as soybeans.
Records of the Dutch East India Company first list soy sauce as a commodity in 1737, when seventy-five large barrels were shipped from Dejima, Japan to Batavia (present-day Jakarta) on the island of Java. Thirty-five barrels from that shipment were forwarded by ship to the Netherlands.
In the 18th century, Isaac Titsingh published accounts of brewing soy sauce shÅyu in Japan. Although many earlier descriptions of soy sauce had been disseminated in the West, this was amongst the earliest to focus specifically on the brewing of the Japanese version.
By the mid-19th century, Japanese shÅyu gradually disappeared from European market and ``soy sauce`` became synonymous with the Chinese product, because costly shÅyu could not compete with the cheaper Chinese product. Europeans of that time were unable to make soy sauce because they didn't understand the function of a crucial ingredient â€“ kÅji.
Traditional soy sauces are made by mixing the grain and/or soybeans with yeast, Aspergillus oryzae or other related microorganisms. Historically, soy sauces were fermented under natural conditions, such as in giant urns and under the sun, which was believed to contribute to additional flavours. Today, most of the commercially-produced counterparts are instead fermented under machine-controlled environments. Many soy sauces sold in U.S. grocery stores contain no soy at all; they are made from fermented wheat. As such, consumers allergic to wheat or soy will need to ascertain the product source prior to purchase. Although there are many types of soy sauce, all are salty and ``earthy``-tasting brownish liquids used to season food while cooking or at the table. Soy sauce has a distinct basic taste called umami (æ—¨å‘³?, literally ``delicious taste``) in Japanese. Umami was first identified as a basic taste in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo Imperial University. The free glutamates which naturally occur in soy sauce are what give it this taste quality.
Many cheaper brands of soy sauces are made from hydrolyzed soy protein instead of brewed with natural bacterial and fungal cultures. These soy sauces do not have the natural color of brewed soy sauces and are typically colored with caramel coloring, and are popular in Southeast Asia and China, and are exported to Asian markets around the globe. They are derogatorily called Chemical Soy Sauce (``åŒ–å¸é†¬æ²¹`` in Chinese), but despite this name are the most widely used type because they are cheap. Similar products are also sold as ``liquid aminos`` in the US and Canada.
Some soy sauces have been found to contain high levels of the potentially cancer causing chemicals 3-MCPD (3-chloro-1,2-propanediol) and 1,3-DCP (1,3-dichloro-2-propanol), both belonging to a group of chemicals known as chloropropanols. 3-MCDP and 1,3-DCP are usually produced by adding acid hydrolysed vegetable protein to accelerate soy source production. Other sources are acid hydrolysis of some or all of the soya bean/wheat and the toasting of the wheat component.
Soy sauce has been integrated into the traditional cuisines of many East Asian and Southeast Asian cultures. Soy sauce is widely used as a particularly important flavoring in Japanese, Thai, Korean, and Chinese cuisine. Despite their rather similar appearance, soy sauces produced in different cultures and regions are very different in taste, consistency, fragrance and saltiness. Soy sauce retains its quality longer when kept away from direct sunlight.
Chinese soy sauce (simplified Chinese: é…±æ²¹; traditional Chinese: é†¬æ²¹; pinyin: jiÃ ngyÃ³u; or è±‰æ²¹ chÇyÃ³u) is primarily made from soybeans, with relatively low amounts of other grains. There are two main varieties:Light or fresh soy sauce (ç”ŸæŠ½ shÄ“ngchÅu; or é…±æ¸… ``jiÃ ng qing``; ): A thin (non-viscous), opaque, lighter brown soy sauce. It is the main soy sauce used for seasoning since it is saltier, less colourfully noticeable (due to its lighter colour), and also adds a distinct flavour. The light soy sauce made from the first pressing of the soybeans is called tÃ³uchÅu (simplified Chinese: å¤´æŠ½; traditional Chinese: é æŠ½), which can be loosely translated as first soy sauce or referred to as premium light soy sauce. TouchÅu is sold at a premium because, like extra virgin olive oil, the flavor of the first pressing is considered superior. An additional classification of light soy sauce, shuÄnghuÃ¡ng (é›™ç’œ), is double-fermented to add further complexity to the flavour. These last two more delicate types are used primarily for dipping. Dark/old soy sauce (è€æŠ½ lÇŽochÅu), a darker and slightly thicker soy sauce, is aged longer and contains added molasses to give it its distinctive appearance. This variety is mainly used during cooking since its flavour develops during heating. It has a richer, slightly sweeter, and less salty flavour than light soy sauce. Dark soy sauce is partly used to add color and flavour to a dish after cooking, but, as stated above, is more often used during the cooking process, rather than after.
In traditional Chinese cooking, these soy sauces were employed in various, strategic ways to achieve a particular flavour and colour for the dish.
Another type, thick soy sauce (é†¬æ²¹è† jiÃ ngyÃ³ugÄo), is a dark soy sauce that has been thickened with starch and sugar. It is also occasionally flavored with MSG. This sauce is not usually used directly in cooking but more often as a dipping sauce or poured on food as a flavorful addition.
Buddhist monks introduced soy sauce into Japan in the 7th century, where it is known as shoyu (é†¤æ²¹, shÅyu?). The Japanese word tamari is derived from the verb tamaru that signifies ``to accumulate``, referring to the fact that tamari was traditionally from the liquid byproduct produced during the fermentation of miso. Japan is the leading producer of tamari.
ShÅyu is traditionally divided into five main categories depending on differences in their ingredients and method of production. Most, but not all Japanese soy sauces include wheat as a primary ingredient, which tends to give them a slightly sweeter taste than their Chinese counterparts. They also tend towards an alcoholic sherry-like flavor, due to the addition of alcohol in the product. Not all soy sauces are interchangeable.Koikuchi (æ¿ƒå£?, ``dark color``): Originating in the KantÅ region, its usage eventually spread all over Japan. Over 80% of the Japanese domestic soy sauce production is of koikuchi, and can be considered the typical Japanese soy sauce. It is produced from roughly equal quantities of soybean and wheat. This variety is also called kijÅyu (ç”Ÿé†¤æ²¹) or namashÅyu (ç”Ÿã—ã‚‡ã†ã‚†) when it is not pasteurized. Usukuchi (æ·¡å£?, ``light color``): Particularly popular in the Kansai region of Japan, it is both saltier and lighter in color than koikuchi. The lighter color arises from the usage of amazake, a sweet liquid made from fermented rice, that is used in its production. Tamari (ãŸã¾ã‚Š?): Produced mainly in the ChÅ«bu region of Japan, tamari is darker in appearance and richer in flavour than koikuchi. It contains little or no wheat; wheat-free tamari is popular among people eating a wheat free diet. It is the ``original`` Japanese soy sauce, as its recipe is closest to the soy sauce originally introduced to Japan from China. Technically, this variety is known as miso-damari (å‘³å™Œæºœã‚Š), as this is the liquid that runs off miso as it matures. Shiro (ç™½?, ``white``): A very light colored soy sauce. In contrast to tamari soy sauce, shiro soy sauce uses mostly wheat and very little soybean, lending it a light appearance and sweet taste. It is more commonly used in the Kansai region to highlight the appearances of food, for example sashimi. Saishikomi (å†ä»•è¾¼?, ``twice-brewed``) : This variety substitutes previously-made koikuchi for the brine normally used in the process. Consequently, it is much darker and more strongly flavored. This type is also known as kanro shÅyu (ç”˜éœ²é†¤æ²¹) or ``sweet shÅyu``. shÅyu (koikuchi) and light colored shÅyu (usukuchi) as sold in Japan by Kikkoman, 1 litre bottles.
Newer varieties of Japanese soy sauce include:Gen'en (æ¸›å¡©?, ``reduced salt``): Contains 50% less salt than regular shÅyu for health conscious consumers. Usujio (è–„å¡©?, ``light salt``): Contains 20% less salt than regular shÅyu.
All of these varieties are sold in the marketplace in three different grades according to how they were produced:HonjÅzÅ (æœ¬é†¸é€ ?, ``genuine fermented``): Contains 100% genuine fermented product. KongÅ-jÅzÅ (æ··åˆé†¸é€ ?, ``mixed fermented``): Contains genuine fermented shÅyu mash mixed with 30â€“50% of chemical or enzymatic hydrolysate of plant protein. KongÅ (æ··åˆ?, ``mixed``): Contains HonjÅzÅ or KongÅ-jÅzÅ shÅyu mixed with 30â€“50% of chemical or enzymatic hydrolysate of plant protein.
All the varieties and grades may be sold according to three official levels of quality:HyÅjun (æ¨™æº–?): Standard grade. Contains more than 1.2% of total nitrogen. JyÅkyÅ« (ä¸Šç´š ?): Upper grade. Contains more than 1.35% of total nitrogen. TokkyÅ« (ç‰¹ç´š?): Special grade. Contains more than 1.5% of total nitrogen.
In Indonesia, soy sauce is known as kecap (also ketjap or kicap), which is a catch-all term for fermented sauces. According to one theory, the English word ``ketchup`` is derived from this word. Five main varieties of Indonesian kecap exist:Kecap asin Salty soy sauce, which is very similar to Chinese light soy sauce, but usually somewhat thicker and has a stronger flavor; it can be replaced by light Chinese soy sauce in recipes. Kecap manis Sweet soy sauce, which has a thick, almost syrupy consistency and a pronounced sweet, treacle-like flavor due to generous addition of palm sugar. It is a unique variety; in a pinch, it may be replaced by molasses with a little vegetable stock stirred in. Kecap manis sedang Medium sweet soy sauce, which has a less thick consistency and a more saline taste than Manis. Kecap inggris (``English fermented sauce``), or saus inggris (``English sauce``) is the Indonesian name for Worcestershire sauce. Kecap Ikan is Indonesian fish sauce.
In Singapore and Malaysia, soy sauce in general is dÃ²uyÃ³u (è±†æ²¹); dark soy sauce is called jiÃ ngyÃ³u (é†¬æ²¹) and light soy sauce is jiÃ ngqÄ«ng (é†¬æ¸…). Angmo daoiu (ç´…æ¯›è±†æ²¹, lit. ``foreigners' soy sauce``) is the Hokkien name for Worcestershire sauce.
Malaysia, which has language and cultural links with Indonesia, uses the word 'kicap' for soy sauce. Kicap is traditionally of two types: kicap lemak and kicap cair. Kicap lemak is similar to kecap manis but with very much less sugar while kicap cair is the Malaysian equivalent of kecap asin.
Korean soy sauce, (called Joseon ganjang, ì¡°ì„ ê°„ìž¥, in Korean) is a byproduct of the production of doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste). Joseon ganjang, thin and dark brown in color, is made entirely of soy and brine, and has a saltiness that varies according to the producer. Wide scale use of Joseon ganjang has been somewhat superseded by cheaper factory-made Japanese style soy sauce, called waeganjang (hangul: ì™œê°„ìž¥/å€ê°„ìž¥). According to the 2001 national food consumption survey in Korea, traditional fermented ganjang comprised only 1.4% of soy sauce purchases.
The history of soy sauce making in Taiwan can be traced back to southeastern China, in the provinces of Fujian and Guangdong. Later, the cultural and political separation between Taiwan and China since the end of the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, when China ceded Taiwan to Japan, brought changes to traditional Chinese soy sauce making in Taiwan. Some of the top Taiwanese makers have adopted the more sophisticated Japanese technology in making soy sauce for the domestic market and more recently foreign markets as well. Taiwanese soy sauce is perhaps most markedly known for its black bean variant, known as black bean soy sauce (é»‘è±†è”æ²¹). Most major soy sauce makers in Taiwan such as KimLan (é‡‘è˜), WanJaShan (è¬å®¶é¦™), President-Kikkoman (çµ±è¬) make exclusive soybean and wheat soy sauce. A few other makers such as WuanChuang (ä¸¸èŽŠ), O'Long (é»‘é¾), TaTung (å¤§åŒ) and RueiChun (ç‘žæ˜¥) make black bean soy sauce, which takes longer to produce (about 6 months).
Vietnamese soy sauce is called xÃ¬ dáº§u derived from Cantonese name è±‰æ²¹, nÆ°á»›c tÆ°Æ¡ng, or sometimes simply tÆ°Æ¡ng.
A type of soy sauce based product which is a popular condiment in the Philippines is called toyo, usually found alongside other sauces such as fish sauce (patis) and sugar cane vinegar (suka). The flavor of Philippine soy sauce is a combination of ingredients made from soybeans, wheat, salt, and caramel, is interestingly milder compared to its Asian counterpartsâ€”possibly an adaptation to the demands of the Filipino palate and its cuisine. It is thinner in texture and has a saltier taste compared to its Southeast Asian counterparts, much more similar to the Japanese shÅyu. It is used as a staple condiment to flavor many cooked dishes and as a marinade during cooking, it is also a table condiment, and is usually mixed and served with calamansi, a small Asian citrus-lime.
A study by National University of Singapore shows that Chinese dark soy sauce contains 10 times the antioxidants of red wine, and can help prevent cardiovascular diseases. Soy sauce is rich in lactic acid bacteria and of excellent anti-allergic potential.
Soy sauce does not contain a level of the beneficial isoflavones associated with other soy products such as tofu or edamame. It can also be very salty, having a salt content of between 14%â€“18%, so it may not be a suitable condiment for people on a low sodium diet. Low-sodium soy sauces are produced, but it is difficult to make soy sauce without using some quantity of salt as an antimicrobial agent.
Most varieties of soy sauce also contain wheat. Individuals with a wheat allergy, Celiac disease, or a gluten intolerance should avoid soy sauce that is made with wheat. However, some naturally brewed soy sauces, made with wheat, may be tolerated by gluten intolerant individuals, because gluten are no longer detectable.
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