Thursday, August 7, 2008

Traditional Soy Sauce

Due to increased security for tomorrow's opening ceremony many parts of the city, including certain subway lines, were closed today and will be closed tomorrow, so I was not able to do everything I wanted to do on my day off. But, while visiting a local eatery and enjoying a little traditional cuisine, I learned a thing or two about traditional soy sauce...

The soy sauce we eat in America (and much of the soy sauce in China) is commercially made and only takes a couple of days to produce. However, there are still traditional soy sauce plants that make an incredible product... Traditional soy sauce is smooth, not as salty, but still full of flavor.

It is made, of course, from soy beans. They are harvested and then boiled in large pots until the beans are soft. The softened beans are mixed with flour to make "soy cakes." The soy cakes bake in the sun for about a week and a half. They are ready for the fermentation pots when the cakes are fully molded. The molded soy cakes are then placed in large clay pots, many of which are several hundred years old, with metal lids and the mix is left to ferment in the sun. During fermentaion, the beans break down and the mixture begins to separate. The bean solids float to the top and the liquid below is soy sauce, used in traditional Chinese cuisine.

The process can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months for a single batch of soy sauce, using this ancient method. This method produces a soy sauce that is more redish in color than the dark, almost black liquid we are more accustomed to.

1 comment:

Monica said...

Sounds delicious.... dosent everyone love fermentation?