Japanese ingredients for your healthy life

How to make Shoyu

Making shoyu

The making of shoyu has a a very long history. Over centuries, different styles of production in separate areas has allowed for different tasting versions with different characteristics. During this time, the basic method has been refined and nowadays we are in a great position where we can sample shoyu in all its forms for just a few dollars from the shop. Most of us donft need to know how itfs made as we just just by it of course, nevertheless, it is a fascinating process so letfs take a look at exactly how shoyu is made.


Just as a refresher, letfs go over some of the key points of shoyu. Shoyu or soy sauce in English is truly an indispensable food in the Japanese kitchen and indeed many kitchens around the world now. There are many uses for shoyu and the various forms one can find. Koi kuchi shoyu, which is the most popular and widely sold soy sauce is often used as an easy and healthy marinade in Japanese cooking. One idea is to cut up some chicken thighs, pour in some honey, shoyu and brown sugar then mix together and leave in the fridge for 24 hours. This is then fried to create a delightful dish that is bound to win the family over. Indeed, shoyu can be mixed with a number of ingredients to make an excellent marinade. Shoyu isnft just restricted to marinades however. Shoyu is often added into regular dishes also. Fried rice, that generally consists of rice and combinations of vegetables, meats, seafood usually has a few tablespoons of shoyu added to it for taste. Shoyu adds that perfect amount of salty flavour to liven the meal up. Of course, pouring in too much shoyu can saturate a meal with salt and is not recommended.


Soy sauce is a fermented and aged food, just like many great Japanese foods like miso for example. The key ingredients to shoyu are soybeans, salt, wheat, yeast and water although of course variations may use other ingredients. Although production methods will vary from type to type and company to company the basic method is the same. The basic method is to mix a culture with soybeans to make what the Japanese call ekojif this ferments over a long period of time to make shoyu.


The key steps are to firstly prepare each ingredient, for this the soybeans are left in water to soften and wheat is roasted and crushed. This mixture is then mixed together with a culture to make the ekojif mixture. Following this, this mixture is mixed with salt brine. Wet fermentation then takes place and the mixture then brews. This is the part of the process that gives soy sauce its distinct colour and flavours. After this stage, this mixture is then strained to separate the solids from the soy sauce. Interestingly enough, the solid is often used to feed animals. At this stage, the soy sauce isnft ready to eat yet. It is then pasteurized by being heated allowing for active yeasts and molds to be treated. Following this, the product is then either put into bottles to use or aged further. This is the basic process, but variations on the types of cultures used and lengths of time in each stage allow for variation in product type.

An alternative to the traditional method

The method above is known as the traditional method as the product is fermented. Another method if to use chemical hydrolysis. In this method. the soy proteins are artificially broken down by hydrolysis which is a lot faster than fermenting. To do this, manufacturers actually boil soybeans in hydrochloric acid for just under a day then cooled. This mixture is then neutralized, pressed and purified. Following this, caramel colour, corn syrup and salt are added and the product is refined after this to create a product similar to the traditional one. Most people would agree that soy sauce made using natural fermentation has a lot better taste and that soy sauce using the chemical hydrolysis method doesnft taste as pure.


Many people advocate the use of fermented soy sauce made using the traditional method as their are many health benefits from this type. Because of the process soy sauce goes through when being made, there are many health benefits created from its being fermented. This process creates benefits for our digestive system, cardiovascular system and immune system. It has many types of antioxidants that prevent harmful activity from free radicals in our bodies. Soy sauce is also very good for our digestion systems. It is said that due to the fermentation process used to make it, soy sauce has many health benefits when it goes through our digestive tracts. Soy sauce helps for the large intestine to produce good bacteria for the intestine which is good. The bacteria produced is very good because it helps our bodies get more nutrients from the food we eat and helps to create a good chemical balance in our large intestine. This may be perhaps the most widely publicised health benefit for soy sauce.


The recipes for making shoyu has of course been refined over hundreds of years. Itfs hard to see the core elements of the traditional process changing adversely in years to come. However, it is quite likely that there will be minor improvements or modifications made to the method of manufacturing soy sauce made through chemical hydrolysis. Already, there is a way of making soy sauce using a combination of chemical hydrolysis and fermentation. The key is being able to combine the complex flavours produced using a method of fermentation with the speed and cost effectiveness of chemical hydrolysis.


Although not exactly simple to do, the method of making soy sauce is not too complex. Like many fine Japanese foods, fermentation is vital. Shoyu remains a key part of the Japanese diet and for good reason. With delicious foods like shoyu, itfs hard not to add it in your meal.