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Looking at the different brands and types of soy sauce in Japan can be really confusing. Aside from the labels, they all look like bottles of uniform, black liquid. How can you distinguish between a premium soy sauce that uses high quality ingredients and something that is probably full of additives and artificial flavors? Furthermore, does the quality of the soy sauce translate to taste?
Sugarlady is a company known for producing food, cosmetics and supplements without artificial additives. Seasonings are a large part of Sugarlady’s food line up. The range of condiments covers so many different cuisines. You can find basics like salt and pepper; western products such as ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard; specialty oils; organic products, for example sesame oil and rice wine vinegar; various sauces and salad dressings; flavored salt and of course; Japanese condiments like miso, ponzu and soy sauce within the Sugarlady range.
Sugarlady produces three types of premium soy sauce in Japan; JAS standard special grade organic, whole soybean soy sauce and fresh soy sauce. The soybeans used in all three types come from Canada and the USA.
Sugarlady states four promises when it comes to its seasonings:
- No chemical seasonings such as MSG.
- No proteins hydrolyzed from hydrochloric acid.
- No GMO’s in their main ingredients.
- Only safe extracts are used.
The main ingredients in premium soy sauce are salt, soybeans and wheat. Compared to other brands of soy sauce which contain a majority of salt, then defatted soybeans and wheat in decreasing quantities respectively, Sugarlady premium soy sauce contains a high percentage of unprocessed soybeans, followed by wheat, rice and a small amount of sun dried salt.
There are two methods of producing soy sauce in Japan. One way is called ‘acid hydrolysis’ and it is an artificial, chemical process that does not involve any brewing. The second technique is very time consuming as it involves both fermentation and brewing. The fermentation process alone takes up to six months compared to two days for chemical hydrolysation. Sugarlady uses the traditional method to make their premium soy sauce. One that has been refined over centuries in Japan.
Stages of creating premium soy sauce in Japan the traditional way:
- Firstly, the unprocessed soybeans are washed, soaked, softened and cooked until they are boiled. The soybeans are then crushed.
- The wheat is roasted for flavor and pulverized.
- The boiled soybeans and wheat are then mixed with water and heated.
- When this water and grain mix reaches 27 degrees celsius, the live culture Aspergillus Oryzae is added and cooked to form a mash called ‘Koji’.
- The koji is put into large barrels for three days to allow fermentation. These vessels are specially perforated to allow air circulation.
- Once the Koji has fermented in the vats, water and various forms of bacteria such as lactic acid and yeast are added. This addition of live cultures turns the mixture into ‘Moromi’.
- This second stage of fermented mash is then left to further continue the fermentation process for months.
- Sugarlady then adds another batch of koji to the moromi in order to increase the volume without increasing the salt content of their premium soy sauce.
- After that, Sugarlady uses a special method of desalination called ‘Oikoji shikomi’. This method is known to retain the complex flavors of the soy sauce while removing up to 50% of the salt content compared to other soy sauces.
- In order to even further remove excess salt, this reduced salt premium soy sauce then goes through a round of electro-dialysis which involves an electrical current being applied to the soy sauce that has been placed within an ion-exchange membrane.
- To finish, the moromi mixture is then filtered and pasteurized.
- The final product is then bottled and ready for consumption!
Knowing the process of how premium soy sauce in Japan is made, not only gives us a closer insight into what goes into flavoring our food but it also has the ability to widen perspectives and cultural understanding. Soy sauce is as quintessential to Japan as Sushi so why not use the best of the best to maximize flavor potential while minimizing processed additives! If you’re looking to buy premium soy sauce in Japan, the HealthyTokyo shop has all three varieties of Sugarlady premium soy sauce for you to choose from.
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