The soy sauce
The following article describes the most important facts you should know about the Asian soy sauce. For example, did you know that soya sauce is a natural flavor enhancer? You will also learn where exactly it originated and if there are different versions of traditional soy sauce. Of course, it is also explained to which dishes the sauce is even suitable.
Where does the soy sauce originally come from?
The Chinese soy sauce is considered the undisputed original. For several thousand years, the sauce is made from fermented soybeans, prepared according to an ancient recipe. Later, Buddhists brought the sauce to Japan. As a result, the soy sauce spreads very quickly across much of Asia. Not for nothing, it immediately springs to mind as soon as we even think of this continent and its culinary specialties.
What is the difference between the Chinese and Japanese variant?
The most important point in which the two versions differ is clearly the slightly different recipe. While the traditional Chinese soy sauce consists exclusively of the beans of the soya plant, water, bacterial cultures and salt, the Japanese version also contains roasted wheat (originally barley). The original Chinese soy sauce is often referred to as Tamari.
But there is also a third variant!
Another version is the bright soy sauce. The peculiarity of this sauce is related to the traditional production process of soy sauce, which lasts at least one and a half years. To produce the sauce, the soybeans are fermented under the sun, in cedar barrels. When this process is completed, the liquid is skimmed off. The sauce so obtained is the dark soy sauce. The remaining ingredients are then diluted again with water and the fermentation process is continued again. In this way, the less strong light soy sauce is produced. Of course, industrially produced soy sauce cannot wait so long for the desired result. To accelerate the fermentation, chemical additives are added to the sauces.
Which dishes are the soy sauce suitable for?
Soy sauce goes well with many different foods. This starts with vegetables and ends with beef. Other meats, such as pork, also harmonize with Asian soy sauce. As the sauce is made from soy, it goes well with tofu. With a dash of soy sauce, you can, for example, also refine vegetables. Soy sauce is especially suitable for all dishes from the wok. This will make your Asian dish really authentic. Also, for fish and seafood, a soy sauce fits wonderfully. Even in Asian desserts, the soy sauce is often used, but these are usually the bright version of the soy sauce, this is not so flavorful and slightly sweeter. The Japanese sweet rice dumplings called Dango are a good example. A classic dish with the dark soy sauce is, for example, fried prawns with lemongrass. Of course, you can also conjure wonderful marinades based on soy sauce. Also, very delicious are the salad dressings with soy sauce. Which foods and dishes does the soy sauce fit, we have summarized again for you:
- Asian desserts (such as Dango)
Soy sauce is a natural flavor enhancer!
How does that work exactly? Due to the fermentation, so-called glutamic acid forms in the soy sauce. The biological model for artificially produced flavor enhancers naturally improves the individual flavors. There are special receptors on the tongue that react exclusively to this amino acid. As a result, the glutamates can also trigger a spicy and savory taste. The term "umami" for this sense of taste, which was already coined in Japan in 1908, was officially confirmed by US scientists only in the year 2000. This characteristic makes soy sauce a universal seasoning. If you use soy sauce in the kitchen for seasoning, but you should always pay attention to the dosage, some drops are usually enough. This is related to the high salt content in the sauce. The salt is in the original recipe as a natural preservative.
Soy sauce serves as the basis for many more sauces!
For example, in Japanese cuisine, many foods are braised. Not only meat and vegetables can be prepared this way, but also fish. For these traditional stews there is an accompanying sauce, the so-called teriyaki sauce. This special sauce is made from the dark soy sauce. But other sauces, such as the sweet and sour sauce, depending on the recipe, also produced with the soy sauce. Since the Far Eastern taste for soy sauce is also becoming more and more popular in Europe, you can now find so-called wok sauces in almost every store, which are often based on dark soy sauce. After all, there are no limits to your creativity, as always in the kitchen. For example, to give your food an Asian touch, mix some soy sauce with coconut milk. The result will convince you. The most famous sauces based on soy sauce are:
A short summary of the soy sauce:
The soy sauce is originally from China. However, there is also a Japanese version of the sauce. Both are naturally based on soybean. Traditionally, the beans are fermented under the sun. The Japanese soy sauce differs only minimally from the Chinese variant. A third variant is the light soy sauce. This milder variety is obtained by re-fermenting the mash. Since the Asian sauce is a natural flavor enhancer, it really goes with so many dishes, even in Far Eastern desserts the soy sauce is used. However, in Asia, soy sauce is also used as a dressing and as a basis for marinades. Therefore, it is not surprising that the idea of soy sauce is not far away, if one thinks of the Asian cuisine. This Far Eastern specialty is not only a delicacy, it is also the basis for many other sauces from Asia. The wok sauce is a good example of this. In Japan, there is another well-known sauce, which would not exist without soy sauce, the teriyaki sauce. This Japanese specialty sauce is traditionally eaten with braised foods. If you experiment with soy sauce a bit, you will be able to quickly create an authentic Asian taste. Coconut milk is particularly suitable as an additive to the soy sauce.