Monday, October 01, 2007

Fermented Soya Beans and Soya Bean Milk

My paternal grandmother Siew used to ferment soya beans as part of her routine to keep household expenditure in check. My maternal grandmother Tiong also made a lot of salted and fermented soya beans. And I remember that some of cousins used to get her to post some of it to them when they were in boarding school. These salted beans were great to eat with piping hot porridge,and especially when one was homesick.

I remember my maternal grandmother having a medium sized urn in the back room where she would keep her salted soya beans for many days to ferment. The resulting fermented soya beans would be aromatic and tasty. The Koreans and the Japanese also have their own way of making fermented soya beans. Each nationality thus have their own special taste.Today, as I have grown older,personally, I like the saltier Chinese brown soya bean paste but the Japanese commercial types are also very very tasty. The world has also fallen in love with miso like I have. The Korean soya bean paste , after the new wave of Korean Cinema took Asia by storm,is particularly good for stir frying of very tender beef.

However when I was much younger I used to dislike the smell and hence would not touch the horrible brown stuff. I had considered it a rotting vegetable. One of my cousins even said that the brown stuff actually tasted (or was it smelled?) like ear wax...yaks...

The Foochows have always been very resourceful and we make all sorts of things from the wonder bean, so to speak. It is actually a wholesome food just by itself.

When young I had liked soya bean milk instead of cow's milk most of the time. the only cow's milk I liked was the condensed sweetened form. I loved soya bean sprouts and of course tou foo. Any thing made from soya bean was cheap so a resourceful housewife would have plenty of its various products at home.

The increasing popularity of soya foods is mainly attributed to the large amount of health benefits which are associated with the use of soya beans. The role of soya in the prevention of chronic diseases continues to be a top priority for scientist around the world.

The media, especially the Internet has helped its popularity to rise even further. Magazine writers, food experts and health gurus have said a lot of wonderful things about this wonder bean.

In fact every where, especially in the United States, soya bean has been grown in a large scale.

In China, the soya bean has been cultivated and used in different ways for thousands of years. Soya was considered as one of the 5 holy crops, besides rice, wheat, barley and millet.

Soya beans are very versatile: soya beans can be used as whole soya beans, soya sprouts, or processed as soya milk, tofu, tempeh, soya sauce or miso. Soya is also used as ingredient for non-food products, such as candle wax and biodiesel. Soy candles are becoming more popular because they burn longer and healthier.

The FDA, USA, has confirmed that foods containing soy protein may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Only people with soy allergy (about 0.5 percent of the population) should avoid eating food containing soy protein. Over the past years, there has been an increasing interest in the antioxidant effects of soya and in particular the health benefits of isoflavones. Soya is very important for vegetarians and vegans. Soya has a high protein content and soya is rich in vitamins, minerals and fibers. The easiest way to consume soya is by drinking soya milk.

One of my favourite soya bean products today is tempe, which actually has an Indonesian origin.

Below is a sandwich spread recipe using

400 g tempeh
2 Tbs Tamari
4 Tbs Tahini
2 Tbs oil
3 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs parsley, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme
1 onion, chopped
1 carot, grated

Servings: 4

Miso is not prepared in the same way as we Foochows prepare our fermented soya beans. But it is quite near it, if you cannot buy Foochow fermented soy beans or make your own.

Here is a description of miso I have taken from the Internet for your reference: Most misos are made from soya beans.

Miso is an interesting food ingredient: miso is easy to use, it enhances the flavour of the food and it has interesting nutritional values. Miso is unchallenged in its versatility and can be used in soups, sauces, dressings and toppings.

Miso can be used in place of salt or shoyu in most recipes. Miso is gaining popularity as a healthful ingredient. Miso offers a nutritious balance of natural proteins, carbohydrates, essential oils, minerals, vitamins and isoflavones.
In vegetarian diets, miso is very important because it gives savory richness to meals. Miso can also be used in low-fat cooking: it contains only 5% fat and no cholesterol.
Miso soup
Of course, miso is best for its soup: miso soup. In Japan miso soup is made by combining hot dashi with miso. In Japan miso soup is not just eaten at dinnertime but most people have miso soup as the first meal of the day. It is impossible for miso soup to be boring. With using different ingredients, you can make a different miso soup every day.
Miso varieties
Although we recommend a certain type of miso in each recipes you can substitute is with other varieties: one teaspoon of a dark miso is roughly equivalent in salt content to 2 teaspoons of a light variety. Here are some miso varieties :
Red miso (aka miso, sendai miso, inaka miso) is a rich miso with a strong and salty flavor. Red miso is made from barley. It is mainly used in soups, stews and braised dishes.

Hatcho miso has a very pungent and salty taste. It texture is thick and grainy. Hatcho miso is made from soybeans only. It is used in small amounts to add richness to soups and broths.

Shinshu miso has a yellow colour. This miso has a mellow and salty flavour.

Below is a list of all the different versions of Soya sauce
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese: 1. 醬油
2. 豉油
3. 荳油
Simplified Chinese: 1. 酱油
2. 豉油
3. 豆油

Japanese name
Kanji: 1. 醤油
2. 正油
Hiragana: しょうゆ

Korean name
Hangul: 간장

Vietnamese name
Quoc Ngu: xì dầu, nước tương or tương

What is it then this wonder sauce called Soya sauce ?

It is a fermented sauce made from soybeans (soya beans), roasted grain, water and salt. The sauce, originating in China, is commonly used in East and Southeast Asian cuisine and appears in some Western cuisine dishes, especially as an ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.

Basic production overview

Soy sauce is made from soybeans.Authentic soy sauces are mixed with yeast or kōji (麹, the mold Aspergillus oryzae or A. sojae) and other related microorganisms. Authentic soy sauces are made from whole soybeans, but many cheaper brands are made from hydrolysed soy protein instead. These soy sauces do not have the natural color of authentic soy sauces and are typically colored with caramel coloring.

In addition, traditionally soy sauces were fermented under natural conditions, such as in giant urns and under the sun, which was believed to contribute to additional flavours. Nowadays most of the commercially-produced counterparts are fermented under machine-controlled environments instead.

Soy sauce should always be kept refrigerated and out of direct light. An opened bottle of soy sauce that has been left unrefrigerated could become slightly bitter.

Although there are many types of soy sauce, all are salty and earthy-tasting brownish liquids used to season food while cooking or at the table. What some westerners can only describe as a flavorful, kind of sweet taste is a distinct basic taste called umami by the Japanese and "xiān wèi" (鲜味, 鮮味 lit. "fresh taste") by the Chinese. Umami was first identified as a basic taste in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo Imperial University. The free glutamates which naturally occur in soy sauce are what give it this taste quality.

Small quantities of Soy Sauce may be included in take-away meals such as Japanese Sushi and Bento boxes. These portions are often attractively and creatively packaged.

Making soy sauce at home
Just like other processed soy products such as miso, soy milk, tofu and others, soy sauce can be made at home. The traditional method requires mixing a yeast and grains with soybeans or Koji (Aspergillus oryzae) with the soybeans.

Soy sauce originated in ancient China and has since been integrated into the traditional cuisines of many East Asian and South East Asian cultures. Soy sauce is widely used as a particularly important flavoring in Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Korean cuisine. However, it is important to note that despite its rather similar appearance, soy sauces produced in different cultures and regions are very different in taste, consistency, fragrance and saltiness. As such, it may not be appropriate to substitute soy sauces of one culture or region for another.

Chinese soy sauce

A bottle of Chinese soy sauceChinese soy sauce (jiàngyóu/chǐyóu, 酱油/豉油) is primarily made from soybeans, with relatively low amounts of other grains. There are two main varieties:

Light/fresh soy sauce ("Shēngchōu"; 生抽): A thin (as in non-viscous) opaque dark brown soy sauce. It is the main soy sauce used for seasoning, since it is saltier, but it also adds flavour. Since it is lighter in color, it does not greatly affect the color of the dish. The light soy sauce made from the first pressing of the soybeans is called Tóuchōu (头抽 or 頭抽), which can be loosely translated as first soy sauce or referred to as premium light soy sauce. Touchōu is often sold at a premium because of better taste (similar to extra virgin olive oil). In addition, the classification Shuānghuáng (雙璜) refers to the double fermentation process employed, to further add complexity to the flavour. These latter two more delicate types are usually for dipping.
Dark/old soy sauce ("Lǎochōu"; 老抽) : A darker and slightly thicker soy sauce that is aged longer and contains added molasses to give it its distinctive appearance. This variety is mainly used during cooking since its flavour develops under heating. It has a richer, slightly sweeter, and less salty flavour than light soy sauce. Dark soy sauce is partly used to add color and flavour to a dish.
In traditional Chinese cooking, one of the two types, or a mixture of both, is employed to achieve a particular flavour and colour for the dish.

Other types:

Thick soy sauce ("Jiàngyóugāo", 醬油膏 or 蔭油膏): Dark soy sauce that has been thickened with starch and sugar. It is also occasionally flavored with MSG. This sauce is not usually used directly in cooking but more often as a dipping sauce or poured on food as a flavorful addition.
Dark soy paste (huángjiàng 黄酱): Although not really a soy sauce, it is another salty soy product. It is one of the main ingredients in a dish called zhajiang mian (炸酱面, lit. "fried paste noodles").
In Singapore and Malaysia, soy sauce in general is dòuyóu (豆油); dark soy sauce is called jiàngyóu (醬油) and light soy sauce is jiàngqīng (醬清). Angmoh tauyew (紅貌豆油), lit. "foreigners' soy sauce" is the Hokkien name for Worcestershire sauce.

Hawaiian soy sauce
A unique type of soy sauce produced by Aloha Shoyu Company since 1946 is a special blend of soybeans, wheat, and salt, historically common among local Hawaii residents.

Indonesian soy sauce

Kecap manis Indonesian thick and sweet soy sauce is nearly as thick as molasses.In Indonesia, soy sauce is known as kecap (a catchall term for fermented sauces), from which according to one theory the English word "ketchup" is derived. Two main varieties exist:

Kecap asin
Salty soy sauce, which is very similar to Chinese light soy sauce, but usually somewhat thicker and has a stronger flavor; it can be replaced by light Chinese soy sauce in recipes.
Kecap manis
Sweet soy sauce, which has a thick, almost syrupy consistency and a pronounced sweet, treacle-like flavor due to generous addition of palm sugar. It is a unique variety; in a pinch, it may be replaced by molasses with a little vegetable stock stirred in.
Kecap inggris ("English fermented sauce"), or saus inggris ("English sauce") is the Indonesian name for Worcestershire sauce. Kecap Ikan is Indonesian fish sauce.

Malaysian soy sauce
Malaysia, which has cultural links with Indonesia, uses the word 'kicap' for soy sauce. Kicap is traditionally of two types: kicap lemak and kicap cair. Kicap lemak is similar to kecap manis but with very much less sugar while kicap cair is the Malaysian equivalent of kecap asin. However the Indonesian style kecap manis has now its Malaysian equivalents due to the increasing number of Malay producers in what used to be a Chinese dominated industry. Kicap is an important condiment in Malay and Malaysian Chinese cuisine. Kicap has also entered the Malaysian Indian cuisine. A popular dish is the Indian Muslim 'daging masak hitam' which is basically beef or mutton stewed in a sweet spicy kicap-based sauce. Some people add some kicap to their rice and curry to spice up the meal. Many Malaysian children's favourite dish is rice with kicap and fried eggs.

Japanese soy sauce

Koyo organic tamari sauceJapanese soy sauce, or shō-yu (しょうゆ, or 醤油, 正油), is traditionally divided into 5 main categories, depending on differences in their ingredients and method of production. Japanese soy sauces include wheat as a primary ingredient, and this tends to give them a slightly sweeter taste than their Chinese counterparts; they also have a somewhat alcoholic, sherry-like flavor. Japanese and Chinese soy sauces are not really interchangeable in recipes; Chinese dark soy sauce comes closer to the Japanese one in overall flavor, but not in the intensity of the flavor or the texture.

Koikuchi (濃口)
Originating in the Kantō region, its usage eventually spread all over Japan. Over 80% of the Japanese domestic soy sauce production is of koikuchi, and can be considered the typical Japanese soy sauce. It is produced from roughly equal quantities of soybean and wheat. This variety is also called Kijōyu (生醤油) or namashōyu (生しょうゆ) when it is not pasteurized.
Usukuchi (薄口)
Particularly popular in the Kansai region of Japan, it is both saltier and lighter in color than koikuchi. The lighter color arises from the usage of amazake, a sweet liquid made from fermented rice, that is used in its production.
Tamari (たまり)
Produced mainly in the Chūbu region of Japan, tamari is darker in appearance and richer in flavour than koikuchi. It contains little or no wheat; wheat-free tamari is popular among people eating a wheat free diet. It is the "original" Japanese soy sauce, as its recipe is closest to the soy sauce originally introduced to Japan from China. Technically, this variety is known as miso-damari (味噌溜り), as this is the liquid that runs off miso as it matures.
Shiro (白, lit. "white")
A very light colored soy sauce. In contrast to "tamari" soy sauce, "shiro" soy sauce uses mostly wheat and very little soybean, lending it a light appearance and sweet taste. It is more commonly used in the Kansai region to highlight the appearances of food, for example sashimi.
Saishikomi (再仕込, twice-brewed)
This variety substitutes previously-made koikuchi for the brine normally used in the process. Consequently, it is much darker and more strongly flavored. This type is also known as kanro shoyu (甘露 醤油) or "sweet shoyu".

Shoyu (Koikuchi) and light colored shoyu (Usukuchi) as sold in Japan by Kikkoman, 1 litre bottles.Newer varieties of Japanese soy sauce include:

Genen (減塩)
Low-salt soy sauces also exist, but are not considered to be a separate variety of soy sauce, since the reduction in salt content is a process performed outside of the standard manufacture of soy sauce.
Amakuchi (甘口)
Called "Hawaiian Soy Sauce" in those few parts of the US familiar with it, this is a variant of "koikuchi" soy sauce.
All of these varieties are sold in the marketplace in three different grades according to how they were produced:

Honjōzō hōshiki (本醸造 方式)
Contains 100% naturally fermented product.
Shinshiki hōshiki (新式 方式)
Contains 30-50% naturally fermented product.
Aminosanekikongō hōshiki (アミノ酸混合 方式)
Contains 0% fermented product; is a modified vegetable extract. This is referred to as "liquid aminos" in the US and Canada.
Tennen jōzō (天然 醸造)
Means no added ingredients except alcohol.
All the varieties and grades may be sold according to three official levels of quality:

Hyōjun (標準)
Standard pasteurized.
Tokkyū (特級)
Special quality, not pasteurized.
Tokusen (特選)
Premium quality, usually implies limited quantity.
Other terms unrelated to the three official levels of quality:

Hatsuakane (初茜)
Refers to industrial grade used for flavoring, powder.
Chōtokusen (超特選)
Used by marketers to imply the best.
Perhaps the most well-known producer of Japanese soy sauce is the Kikkoman Corporation.

Taiwanese soy sauce
In Taiwan, only light soy sauce is used and this is referred to as jiangyou (醬油); the terms shengchou (生抽) and laochou (老抽) are not used. In addition to soy sauce made from soybeans and wheat, there is a variety that is made from black beans. Soy sauce made from black beans is generally more expensive because it takes longer to make, but it is claimed to have higher nutrition value and aromatic flavour. The history of soy sauce making in Taiwan can be traced back to southeastern China, in the provinces of Fujian and Guangdong. The cultural and political separation between Taiwan and China since the end of the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, when China ceded Taiwan to Japan, had brought yet another unexpected evolution of soy sauce making in Taiwan. In addition, Taiwan is the only place where black bean soy sauce has been commercialized in large-scale, and exported to countries like Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, USA, Canada, Germany, and the UK.

Korean soy sauce
Korean soy sauce, or Joseon ganjang (조선간장) is a byproduct of the production of doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste). Joseon ganjang, thin and dark brown in color, is made entirely of soy and brine, and has a saltiness that varies according to the producer. Wide scale use of Joseon ganjang has been somewhat superseded by cheaper factory-made Japanese style soy sauce, called waeganjang (hangul: 왜간장/倭간장). However, the Koreans strongly held onto their native culture and resisted the Japanese attempts to suppress the rich Korean culture, during the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula, and the use of Joseon ganjang is an example of this.

Vietnamese soy sauce
Vietnamese soy sauce is called xì dầu, nước tương, or sometimes simply tương.

Filipino soy sauce
A popular condiment in the Philippines, it is calle toyo, and is usually found beside other sauces such as patis and suka.


A study by National University of Singapore shows that Chinese dark soy sauce contains 10 times the antioxidants of red wine.[1]

Soy sauce does not contain the beneficial isoflavones associated with other soy products such as tofu or edamame. It can also be very salty, so it may not be a suitable condiment for people on a low salt diet. Low-salt soy sauces are produced, but it is impossible to make soy sauce without using some quantity of salt.

(Ref : Wikipaedia)

5 memories: said...

Thank you for mentioning the wheat free soy sauce. I can't eat wheat and have been missing soy sauce. Nice to know there could be a kind I can eat!

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Thank you for writing. I like my blog to be informative and helpful. All my four children were born with glucose intolerance. And at my age I am quite intorant to most carbohydrates especially wheat . Some folks cannot eat wheat and cheese together. I have a friend who is allergic to peanuts, an important ingredient in many Asian dishes.

Hope you can get the wheat free soy sauce

stevo said...

Sarawakiana. Thank you for writing about homw fermented soya beans. I look for this for long time. I would like to get a receipe, because I would like to have it as a part of my mutrition.
Could you gime more info how to do it? Thank you

I Am Sarawakiana said...

I will give you perhaps another recipe for making fermented soya beans...this time with photos..Must run after my aunt.
Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

Hi sarawakiana, I am so grateful if you can tell us how to make fermented soya beans because I have been surfing for more than a year but to no avail. It is always come up with miso. I believe that fermented soya beans and salted soya beans are the same. Best regards, theany


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