Delicious Chinese foods and other Asian cuisine is a favorite of many people and soy sauce is one of the essential ingredients of these foods. Whether it poured on rice, used for stir frying or as a dipping sauce, this condiment is made by fermenting soybeans with the molds Aspergillus oryzae and Aspergillus sojae. This along with roasted grain, salt and water makes the perfect soy sauce that has been used for nearly five thousand years in ancient China. It was only in the early 18th century that the Europeans discovered the plant and used it for making soy sauce and other soy products.
High in proteins, the soy sauce is a healthy and an inexpensive alternative to the other protein sources. Before the advent of technologies that allowed you to get bottled soy sauce right out of shelves, there were the traditional methods to make the sauce at home.
How to Make Soy Sauce from Scratch
- Soybeans - ½ kg
- Salt solution - 6 liters
- Mold (Aspergillus Oryzae)
- Flour - ½ kg
- Rice bran - ½ tsp
- Sodium chloride
How to Make
For the soy sauce, you need to first select the right soybeans from a good organic source and make sure they are all fresh. Throw away the bad ones from the batch. Soak the soybeans in water for 12 to 16 hours. Make sure that you prevent the growth of bacteria by changing the water at least twice. Now remove from the water and pressure cook it or boil it until the beans turn yellowish in color. The beans should also be soft enough to break by hand.
Now you need to prepare the wheat flour. If you are using wheat kernels, then they have to be roasted and crushed to make the wheat. If you are using the wheat flour, then steam it for around twenty minutes. Prepare a brine solution with around twenty percent sodium chloride in it. Mix the soybeans with flour and allow them to rest on a fermentation tray. Cover for around six to seven days for the process to start. Once the fermentation is over, the "koji", as this mixture is known, is placed in glass jars. The rest of the jar is filled with brine. So for every two parts of koji, there is around one and a half part brine. Let this mixture ferment for around a month.
After a month, you need to add the yeast starter or the mold to the mixture around a percent of the total volume. Now you need to let this mixture to ferment for around six months to a year. The time of the fermentation decides the taste and the color of the soy sauce. If you want to fasten the process, then stir it at least once in a week. After six months or whenever the fermentation is complete, strain the liquid part of the mixture to separate it from the paste. Place this in glass bottles and pasteurize it for half an hour to make the perfect soy sauce at home.
There are around two basic types of soy sauce including the light and the dark one. While the darker soy sauce used in red-cooked dishes, and for marinating meat is aged longer, the light soy sauce is lighter in color, with thin consistency and also saltier in taste. The lighter version of the soy sauce is believed to be the better option for cooking as the rather pungent odor and dark brownish black color of dark soy sauce can ruin the taste or appearance of a dish. So if you want to know how you can make soy sauce less salty, then you can try fermenting it for some more time to get the darker, more thicker sauce.
In addition to this there is also the mushroom soy sauce which is a Chinese dark soy sauce which adds straw mushroom essence to the sauce's brew. Known for its deep, rich flavor, this soy sauce is used in most recipes and works well as a table condiment as well. Tamari is a deep colored Japanese soy sauce with a rich texture and intense flavor known to be and excellent table condiment and dipping sauce. So once you have got a hang of making soy sauce, you can experiment with the aging and fermentation time to create the perfect soy sauce.