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Soy sauce in Japan


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I purchased this soy sauce, along with a liter of the standard Japanese-origin Kikkoman from a local Japanese supermarket (mitsuwa, in edgewater NJ).

This stuff was pretty expensive, six bucks a bottle if I remember. So far, I've used it only as a condiment for making a dipping sauce for chinese dumplings (this shoyu + black rice wine vinegar + scallion/garlic). Very powerful stuff. Anyone know more about what to do with it?

The store also has "whole bean" organic soys that are wheatless, but that stuff was pretty pricey.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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What you have got there Jason is um, um............................

Soy sauce, yup just plain old soy sauce. :shock:

Soy sauce has 5 classifications, koikukuchi ,or dark soy sauce, being the most popular at about 82% of the market.

For more info on classifications look here:

http://www.japanweb.co.uk/listing/soy.htm

Soy makers are free to name their soy anything they want and use various names amakuchi, umakuchi, marudaizu, etc to make their's stand out and sound special. Your's is the last one marudaizu, that is how you read the 3 chinese characters on the front, it simply means soybean. I am not sure when they first came onto the market but initially it was used to describe a soy made without wheat and thus would ahve a crisper, cleaner taste. now, however, it is a name that means nothing as a lot of the products, yours included, have wheat in the ingredients. It is better than the cheap soys that have alcohol included, but is nothing fancy. By what I see in the supermarkets 1/2 of the soy sauces seem to have marudaizu on the label and it is used as your basic all purpose soy.

I buy marudaizu as well in one liter bottles and pay about $4, your will cost more because it is an import but that seems a little high, especially for kikkoman.

I have been experimenting a little with various soy sauces and have 4 currently and even though the prices are very different there is almost no taste difference.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Major soysauce makers (Kikkoman, Yamasa, etc.) in Japan used defatted soybeans

rather than whole beans till early 90's when they introduced whole-bean soysauce.

It was their marketing effort to differentiate their newly introduced saysauce which

was premier from their onventional ones to label them "Marudaizu" explicitly.

Jason:

The simpler the cooking, the better you can enjoy material itself, I think you can use

your fancy soysauce for sashimi or sushi if you eat them at home.

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Hey Bon-san! Long time no see. Where have you been?

Yup Jinmyo- I think that's just run of the mill shoyu. I would imagine the gourmet stuff is made by small, local manufacturers way out in the boonies (just as gourmet natto is made by small producers).

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I purchased this soy sauce, along with a liter of the standard Japanese-origin Kikkoman from a local Japanese supermarket (mitsuwa, in edgewater NJ).

This stuff was pretty expensive, six bucks a bottle if I remember. So far, I've used it only as a condiment for making a dipping sauce for chinese dumplings (this shoyu + black rice wine vinegar + scallion/garlic). Very powerful stuff. Anyone know more about what to do with it?

Kikkoman (similarly to its competitors) currently has something in the area of 9 different soy sauces on the market. The method and brewing and ingredients are different from one to the next with each having different depths of color and flavor. I have sampled the complete line and have found that they do vary especially when tasted side by side. By the way the soy you've purchased is the top-of-the-line product and it's noteworthy because it is a 'natural' product containing no chemicals. By contrast a couple of Kikkoman's other premium soys have a long list of unfamiliar scientific sounding ingredients.

You can use it for daily cooking and flavoring, there are no sacred uses for it. I find it quite delicious and seek it out (Chinese stores don't sell it usually). Kikkoman has recently sent me a sample of a new soy developed just for sushi and sashimi which I loved. Haven't seen it for sale yet.

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Yup Jinmyo- I think that's just run of the mill shoyu.

Eh? Oh, you must mean "Jason".

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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But there is "gourmet" soy sauce. I wish I took notes on the things that I bought and ate while I lived in Japan but I took it for granted that it was just part of my life that would never go away.

I have no idea what the "better" brands are or regions (or small local garage type places) famous in Japan for their high quality soy sauce, but these do exist.

One of my happiest eating memories in Japan is in the winter when dried sweet potato slices can be bought. I liked to put slices of those dried (still moist and chewy on the inside) slices on the grill and then dip them in the excellent soy sauce that I bought from a local gourmet store.... mmmm, among the best things I have ever eaten.

YUM!

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Funny Akiko-san, yaki-imo used to be one of my favorite winter foods as well. When I was young, they would still wander the streets of Tokyo in motorized carts hawking roasted sweet potato on the megaphone crowing "Yaaaaaakiiiiiiiiimoooooooooo"! Sadly, the itinerant sellers are a rarity nowadays, except for special festival days.

Except I liked mine with hot butter and some sprinkled sugar, not with soy sauce. Oh- and I like mine roasted whole, not pre-sliced.

Edited by Wimpy (log)
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Although I love yaki-imo, what I'm talking about is a little different. To the sad demise of my Japanese language skills... I can't remember what this is called. It's dried like a dried apricot, It might be called Hoshi Imo... or something like that...sweet potato thats been hung out to dry or some such literal translation.

Like a sundried tomato the sweetness is intensified and the texture is not the fluffyness you get with yaki imo but an almost chewy moistness. And when you grill it... mmmm mmm! Although you can eat it as it is, that is pretty good too. I think it might be something that people in Northern Japan do... because I never saw it in Tokyo or south of Tokyo.

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By the way the soy you've purchased is the top-of-the-line product and it's noteworthy because it is a 'natural' product containing no chemicals. By contrast a couple of Kikkoman's other premium soys have a long list of unfamiliar scientific sounding ingredients.

Well, thats a relief, even though according to the others it just appears to be a regular-type Shoyu.

So if I were to go back to Mitsuwa and ask the store manager for the most serious, upper grade, all-natural, 100 percent Soy stuff, what should I ask for in Japanese?

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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So if I were to go back to Mitsuwa and ask the store manager for the most serious, upper grade, all-natural, 100 percent Soy stuff, what should I ask for in Japanese?

Hi Jason,

I think you need to identify small brewers' name like

"Kadocho" or "Mitsuboshi".

They are located in Wakayama prefecture, famous for

Shoyu production.

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I can't remember what this is called.  It's dried like a dried apricot, It might be called Hoshi Imo... or something like that...

Akiko

Your guess is right. It IS Hoshi Imo. It is rarely seen recently.

I remember eating it in my childhood as it was. But never

tried it dipping in soysauce. :raz:

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Would a roundup-review type article of superpremium soy sauces be something you guys would be interested in seeing in TDG?

(ducking) Why... you think you can talk BON into doing one?

:wink:

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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C'mon guys, hoshi-imo are everywhere! :biggrin:

My kids and I have been eating them all winter, I have yet to see a supermarket that doesn't have them.

Also the yaki-imo truck, he goes past my house regularly a couple times a week, just bought some last week.

As to gourmet soy sauces, I don't know how easy it would be to get the soy from the the small, local breweries in the US. Even in Japan you can't just pick up these speciality ones at a store, a lot of them need to ordered from the brewery, usually heard about by word of mouth. Different flavors are preferred in different areas of Japan, I had to go to 5 stores just to find tamari, because it just isn't popular in the Tokyo area.

Soy, like many other things, is based on personal preference, just try a couple and look for the one that suits you.

I am a true Tokyoite, OK I am really American, but I feel like a Tokyoite, in that I like my food very "koi" or strong tasting. Everyone raves about the wonderful food in the Kyoto area, but on my trip there I found it completely bland and was very disappointed. So when I look for a soy I am looking for the koi-est of koi.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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C'mon guys, hoshi-imo are everywhere! 

My kids and I have been eating them all winter, I have yet to see a supermarket that doesn't have them.

Also the yaki-imo truck, he goes past my house regularly a couple times a week, just bought some last week.

*Sigh* Tora-san, you're making me home sick. I had better call my mom up in Edou and see if I can mooch a free set of airline tickets to fly home.... Cherry Blossom season is coming up (ok ok, I'm more interested in the food, but it will be a good excuse).

By the way, where in the Tokyo area do you live?

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C'mon guys, hoshi-imo are everywhere! 

My kids and I have been eating them all winter, I have yet to see a supermarket that doesn't have them.

Also the yaki-imo truck, he goes past my house regularly a couple times a week, just bought some last week.

*Sigh* Tora-san, you're making me home sick. I had better call my mom up in Edou and see if I can mooch a free set of airline tickets to fly home.... Cherry Blossom season is coming up (ok ok, I'm more interested in the food, but it will be a good excuse).

By the way, where in the Tokyo area do you live?

Wimpy,

Tora-san is actually my husband (Tora is his nickname), I am the Kris of torakris.

We are living in Yokohama, but just baout 20 minutes out of Shibuya. My husband was born in Denenchofu, Ota-ku.

You had better hurrry, the Cherrry blossoms will be here before you know it!

Let me know when you get here! :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Ok Torakris-san! Sorry for misnomer.

Denen-chofu eh? Seems you bagged yourself a silver-spooned one! :biggrin: That's where my maternal grandma grew up. My mom grew up in Jiyugaoka, just a few stations down on the Toyoko-sen. You must whiz by my grandma's place all the time, if you travel to Shibuya-station from Yokahama.

Yes, back to food...

Edited by Wimpy (log)
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Well, they had money back during the bubble, the bubble burst and then I met my husband. :biggrin:

I love Jiyugaoka, great place!

I actually live on the Denentoshi line,but I am sure I have driven near your Grandmother's area.

Back to soy:

Found an interesting website (unfortunately it is only in Japnese):

http://www.fujitv.co.jp/jp/kurashi/tabe/j052.htm

Very quick translation:

This was written by the Fuji television product research division and is about the differnce between "regular" soy sauce and the Marudaizu kind.

Basically the marudaizu soy is made from the whole bean, while "regular" is made from processed beans from which the oils have already been extracting. It is in these oils that there is glycerine and this is what provides the "sweetness" or "mellowness". the taste of the soy will depend on the amount of glycerine present.

The last part says that they performed an informal taste test among 8 of the lab employees and 4 of them couldn't tell the difference between the "regular" and marudaizu types.

They also mention that the price of marudaizu soy is normally about 100yen higher per liter.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 2 months later...

i'm wondering if there's such a thing as "artisan-brewed" or micro-brewed soy sauces? i was brought up on the western grocery-store variety (harsh and salty).

but recently--with sushi, where it's more important--i tried Kimlan naturally fermented, and it's like night and day the difference: it's mellow, not biting, and tastes almost wine-like. and this isn't even a premium brand--so i can't even imagine what i'm missing!

if i go through Chinatown here (Montreal), perhaps i can try a few brands. anyone have favourites, reccomendations?

thanks,

gus

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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San-J makes a tasty shoyu that's cheap enough for everyday use. I find that larger natural food stores have several brands that are equivalent, as well as smaller bottles of small-batch (like George Ohsawa) that are too expensive except for table use.

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