This is how real soy sauce is made

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/11/13/this-is-how-real-soy-sauce-is-made.html

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My father told me it was from squeezing blood out of the pigeons that roosted near the restaurant. You telling me he lied?

Pass the pigeon blood. :wink:

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Very, very cool. I have enormous respect for this process. Years ago I was lucky enough to be part of a cultural exchange program with Calvados makers in Bas Normandy. The most consistent piece of advice/admonishment they shared was that as Americans we should “trust nature more”. The Japanese shoyu process takes that edict to a whole different level, entirely. Absolute masters.

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if you watch Samin Nosrat’s “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” on Netflix, the salt episode goes into this process, too, and it’s fascinating. she visits a small-batch soy sauce maker, and now i’m vowing to one day get me a bottle… it sounds light years away from the mass-produced sauce i’ve had my entire life. to watch this guy talking to his vats of soy sauce (yes!) and also listening to it to tell what it’s doing was just… magical.

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From La Mode Pratique 6:(19) 223 (8 Mai 1897)

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They went through the whole process in one of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo comics. It’s really interesting how it’s all done, and how it’s such a continuous process that you can’t simply pick up and replicate exactly the same way elsewhere.

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I feel like someone has just shown me real beer when I’ve been drinking Corona my whole life.

Now… how to get me some… :thinking:

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That was incredible. I admire the man’s dedication to craft and tradition so much, and that sauce looks beyond delicious. Thanks for this one.

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What I was thinking. I have to up my game now.

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There’s a really great documentary following a traditional Shoyu manufacturer through the course of a year and also looking at the cultural impact aspergillus oryzae has had on Japan. Apart from soy sauce it is also the defining ingredient in sake and miso after all.

It’s called Shoyu - Secrets of Japanese Cuisine. Unfortunately I can’t find it online but it is really worth seeking out if you speak French or German (it was made for the French/German TV channel Arte. I don’t know whether there is an English version). There’s also a second one all about dashi and the people sourcing the traditional ingredients.

ETA: apparently there are English versions but all I could find was a trailer

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Now that’s a guy who loves his job. And we’re all better for that.

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Watching this video I wondered, are they ever cleaning those tanks, or would that destroy the 100 year old yeast fungus?

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We have a segment on traditional Japanese arts and crafts during the afternoon on our PBS station; a couple of months ago they were interviewing one of the smaller miso manufacturers. They also explained how miso tastes differ by area and the base used (rice, soybeans, barley). Maybe PBS could hook you up.
eta @lizard-of-oz I imagine it’s like reusing wine or bourbon casks; after several iterations, the wood is permeated and gives the product a special quality that you don’t get in new, sterile ones.

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NHK has a series called “The Professionals” that is an excellent one about people who’ve mastered a particular job. There was one on a guy who is a polisher, another on a watch repair guy, a farmer, a tofu maker, etc… Fascinating.

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I couldn’t find this brand for sale anywhere online. I did find this 4-year old shoyu, which comes from another venerable maker. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0036TFXY0/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It’s $30, but how many things can you buy the very best of for that kind of money? I don’t know if it will blow my mind, or if I’ll just be ‘eh, soy sauce,’ but it’s worth a punt at that price, I reckon.

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It does seem like a better, more lasting investment than a $30 bottle of wine.

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You wouldn’t be able to recommend a bottle of Calvados available in New England, would you? Even the local version would be lovely.

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Unfortunately, most any Calvados from a smaller house is going to be carried by a boutique distributor and not widely available, even within their service region. Your best bet is to go to a well curated spirits shop and ask. Pays d’Auge are considered the flagship Calvados (it is a protected classification detailing region and method of production), but I wouldn’t get too hung up on that. The primary reason for visiting Bas Normandie was so that they could begin to gain international recognition for products made outside of the Pays d’Auge region. There are a lot of fantastic Calvas out there from small houses, some quite literally small home orchards.

I am, however more than happy to recommend some of my friends’ products that are imported. It may be easier to track down their Cidre or Pommeau (a wonderful fresh cider fortified with Calvados similar to a Port wine) than their Calvas, but the more requested they are, the more likely they are to be brought to your area.

One last note; you won’t find an American Calvados. Because it is an internationally protected designation, no one outside of Normandie is allowed to use it. There are many American-made apple brandies, but unfortunately none of them are produced in the Calvados tradition (that pesky “trusting nature” part is hard for Americans to comprehend). I can definitely recommend Shelburne Orchards’ brandies, though. They are wonderful people who, while not strictly making things in the Calvados method, produce lovely brandies nonetheless.

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Whenever the topic of Japanese fermented products comes up I can’t help but think of the anime Moyashimon. Which in addition to being entertaining in the way anime/manga generally are, is also genuinely educational when it comes to how fermentation works. https://www.crunchyroll.com/moyashimon

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I found this place: https://soysauce-japan.com/blogs/soy-sauce-brewery/fueki-shoyu

Don’t ship to Canada, so still looking…

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