How It's Made: Soy Sauce
We frequently get questions at Sushi MO! about our soy sauce and what is in it. Let's see if we can answer a few questions and set some facts straight about Soy Sauce!
Question 1: Is your Barrel-Aged Soy Sauce gluten free?
Commercially produced soy sauce in Japan contains wheat.
In order to fill our aging barrels, we have to buy in LARGE quantities of soy sauce.
We didn't want to charge $3 per side of soy sauce for it to be gluten free, so we decided to go with commercial stuff that we could age for a reasonable price!
Question 2: How do you make Soy Sauce without gluten?
Here is a fantastic 5 minute video about one of the original producers of Soy Sauce in Japan and how some producers keep the tradition alive!
As you can see, it is a pretty laborious and time-consuming process! As Japan and the World have modernized, so have Miso Paste and Soy Sauce production!
"Tamari" (gluten-free soy sauce) is strictly made from the run-off of miso paste, as the video demonstrated. Since the demand for soy sauce has outpaced the demand for miso paste, newer and cheaper processes have developed over time and different cultures. There are a variety of Chinese soy sauces that are more similar to tamari in their gluten content, but those sauces also tend to taste differently than what Americans have come to identify as "soy sauce."
With the rise of "gluten-free" trends, some producers such as Kikkoman have began to make Tamari, but it obviously sells at a higher price than soy sauce produced with wheat.
This article is great if you would like to learn more about the different varieties of soy sauces available and their distinctions:
Question 3: What is in modern Soy Sauce?
Get ready for a flowchart!
Modern commercial soy sauce contains soy, wheat, salt, and coloring (step not shown) to produce a consistent product.
KOJI?! Koji is a mold that is heavily used in Japanese food-making. Miso, sake, and soy sauce all rely on koji for their flavor and texture. When given proper heat and humidity, koji spores begin to flourish and enzymes convert grain into sugar, and then the enzyme-rich grain is added to a second product, such as soybeans. It is this enzymatic process which creates the flavor we know and love: Umami!
We hope that was a helpful guide to Soy Sauce production!
For our next post, we have asked our resident Sushi/Japan Expert, Louis, to give us some of his favorite recipes that use soy sauce! Get ready to be hungry and inspired!