Fermentation in Japan
Let’s have a look around a profound world of fermentation in Japan.
In the extremely humid climate, we have always tried to get along with bacteria.
In other words, Japanese food culture has progressed by fighting as well as harnessing them.
1. fermentation and Seasonings
Salting and fermentation have played a very important role in the production of seasonings all over the world.
Japan is no exception.
Living in a country surrounded by the sea, we have had relatively abundant salt from ancient times.
On the other hand, living in a humid country, we have harnessed the system of fermentation from ancient times.
Consequently, even today, not a day passes for the Japanese people without eating fermented foods, such as Soybean paste (Miso), Soy sauce (Shōyu), Nattō, Sake.
2. Japanese fermentation (Kamosu )
Next, I’d like to introduce a Japanese verb, “kamosu“ which is used like this:
1) Chôwa wo kamosu
2) Butsugi wo kamo-su
The first phrase 1) means “creating harmony (“和”) which is one of the most important virtues in Japanese society.
To the contrary, the second 2) means “causing disputes” or “causing a scandal”.
In this way, the word “kamosu” is used to describe the action of creating or causing something complicate or unexpected.
From the earliest times, Japanese people felt something mythical in the process of fermentation.
Some argue that the linguistic origin of “kamo-su” is “kami-su“.
“Kami” means God (gods) and “Kami-su” means “the god does it”.
To learn Kanji (Chinese characters) is always interesting and beneficial to understand what the word means.
Through Kanji, we can virtually grasp not only the meaning of the word, but also the background it was born in.
Therefore I’m going to introduce Kanji as often as possible.
Kanji for “kamo-su” is very complicated, but you can find 酉 on the left side which also can be found in 酒(Sake).
The original meaning of “kamo-su” is “ferment“.
3. Nutritional effects
1) Nutrition value
Fermentation also increases nutritional value.
For example, Natto produced by fermentation contains about 10 times more vitamin B2 and 180-300 times more amino acid than simply cooked soybeans.
Natto also contains many digestive enzymes as well as enzyme that melts thrombus.
In addition, fermentation produces the aroma that excites appetite and flavor called “umami” caused by increased amino acid.
2) without allergens
Egg, milk and soy are considered three main food allergens.
But containing soy, Natto, Miso, Soy sauce do not cause allergy.
This is one of the marvelous effects of fermentation.
Theprotein and peptide that cause allergies are broken down to the amino acid in the fermentation process.