Classification (Soy Sauce)
Let’s learn about classification (Soy Sauce).
Based on various needs in cooking, they began to make various types and gradually established their own styles in each region.
Roughly speaking, all of them are classified into 5 types :
a) Koikuchi, b) Usukuchi, c) Tamari, d) Sai-shikomi, e) Shiro (white).
I’d like to explain its classification based mainly on their production process.
Koikuchi is the most popular in Japan.
The production method of Koikuchi is as mentioned below:
- mix cooked soybeans and broken wheat (the amount of these two is the same)
- add Koji-bacteria to make Koji
- add salt water and make it ferment
- after fermented enough, extract the juice from 3).
This juice is what we call ‘Nama Sh0yu‘ (raw Soy sauce)*.
- heat 4) for sterilization, color adjustment, obtaining aroma etc.
<*Note : Nama Shoyu>
- Recently, it has become itself a selling product.
- Moreover, it plays an important role in the production of Sai-shikomi.
As you can see, the Koikuchi has a dark color and the chefs who placed great value on the appearance of their cuisine didn’t like this color which can spoil their precious works.
Hence, they sought lighter colors in soy sauce and their desire made the Usukuchi born.
Always, necessity is the mother of invention.
The production method of Usukuchi is almost the same as above Koikuchi.
But the fermentation period is shorter to avoid gaining dark color.
For this reason, it requires more salt than Koikuchi to finish the fermentation during limited period.
Frequently, sweet-sake (Mirin)* or syrup is added at the end of this process to cover strong saltness.
I know it’s quite confusing, but this sweet- sake (Mirin) is different from Ama-sake which I introduced as a nutritious drink.
Mirin is transparent as Sake and we use it mainly as a seasoning.
c) Tamari (accumulated)
Tamari literally means accumulate.
As I mentioned in the page of Soy sauce, its origin was the juice accumulated in a Miso barrel.
(Although I’m not sure this story is 100% correct).
Basically, the production method of Tamari is almost the same as this primitive soy sauce.
Following its origin, Tamari doesn’t require wheat (only soybeans).
But recently some wheat (usually about 10% of the total amount) is often added to gain a flavor.
Amai is Umai.
In the past, people were always seeking something sweet.
To get a sweeter soy sauce, a new production method called Saishikomi was born in Yanai (Yamaguchi prefecture) at the end of the 17th century.
In the production of Saishikomi, Nama Shoyu (raw Soy sauce) is indispensable.
As I mentioned in the part of a) Koikuchi, Nama Shoyu is the juice gained in the production process of Koikuchi.
Hence, it is already fermented.
By using the Nama- Shoyu as an ingredient, fermentation repeats itself almost twice.
That is why we call it “Sai-shikomi” which literally means “repeated fermentation”.
e) Shiro (white)
As I mentioned in the part of b)Usukuchi, some chefs didn’t like the dark color of Koikuchi.
They sought for more and more light color in soy sauce.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the Shoyu whiter than Usukuchi was born in Hekinan (Aichi prefecture).
It is called “Shiro Shoyu” which means white Shoyu.
Different from other types, the main ingredient of Shiro (white) is wheat.
Only a small portion of broken soybeans are added. Because some nutritional elements contained in soybeans can cause the dark color which is represented by Koikuchi.
By using less soybeans, the finished soy sauce becomes whiter.
As well as Usukuchi, the fermentation period is shorter than others.