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Shoyu Secrets Revealed: 5 Fascinating Facts to Boost Your Knowledge

Shoyu is a condiment made of soybeans, wheat, and salt by fermentation.

Shoyu is a Japanese word for soy sauce.

You probably have heard of  “shoyu ramen” .

It has a dark brown color and salty taste accompanied with umami.

My Shoyu Joke: Why did the soy sauce bottle run away?

Because it was afraid of getting poured on!

Have you gone on a field trip when you were a student?

When I was in grade 3, I went on a field trip to a soy sauce factory.

I remember the factory smelled like soy sauce so much.

I got a small bottle of soy sauce as a souvenir.

Are you curious about how soy sauce is made?

In order to make soy sauce…

First, you boil soybeans

And then you mix these beans with almost the same amount of wheat flour.

Then add tane koji. This is a fermentation starter.

After that, mix it with salt water in a tank and wait for half a year.

Do you know what really makes soy sauce?

Koji‐mold, yeast, and lactic acid bacteria create the distinctive shoyu taste, flavor, and color,

By decomposing and fermenting the ingredients.

Some soy sauce takes 3 years to make

In Japan, there are thousands of soy sauce factories.

And each business has its own characteristics.

There is sweet soy sauce, thick soy sauce, etc..

It depends on the food culture of the regions.

Good soy sauce has nice translucency

Do you want to know how to distinguish good soy sauce?


You shake the bottle.

If there are a lot of small bubbles and they stay for a long time, it has a good quality.


Prepare a glass of water and drop one drop of soy sauce.

If the drop mixes with water very quickly,

It is not the best one.

Fermentation period matters for quality

Traditionally, it is said…

The smell is the best when you ferment soy sauce for 1 year.

The taste is the best when you ferment it for 2 years.

And when you ferment it for 3 years, the taste gets the most depth.


If you wait more than that,  the soy sauce will start to lose umami because…

Amino acid will be decomposed.

Popular kinds of soy sauce is koikuchi, usukuchi, and tamari

Koikuchi Shoyu (Dark Soy Sauce) 

80 percent of soy sauce that is produced in Japan is this koikuchi shoyu.

It is an all-purpose soy sauce.

Fresh koikuchi shoyu has a beautiful reddish brown color.

But when it gets old,

The color gets darker and the nice flavor will be gone.

This is because of oxidizing.

In my home region, the Kanto area, this soy sauce is used widely. (Kanto is the Eastern part of Japan)

Famous producing centers are Choshi City and Noda City.

Usukuchi Shoyu (Light Soy Sauce) 

Usukuchi soy sauce was born in Kansai area.(the West part of Japan)

It has a lighter color than koikuchi soy sauce.

And it has less flavor compared to koikuchi.

Do you know the reason why it is like that?

This is because the purpose of usukuchi soy sauce is…

To bring the taste out of the ingredients.

Not the taste of soy sauce.

Usukuchi soy sauce is best for udon soup and oden.

Did you know…

Actually, usukuchi soy sauce contains more salt than koikuchi soy sauce

It sounds strange since it goes against your intuition.


This is because you want to tame fermentation so you can make soy sauce that has less color and flavor.

Usukuchi soy sauce contains 18 percent of salt, while koikuchi soy sauce contains 16 percent of salt

Popular producers of usukuchi soy sauce are in Shodo Island and Tatsuno city.


Tamari soy sauce has really thick umami and nice color and flavor.

People in Japan use this tamari for sashimi, sushi, teriyaki, and rice crackers.

It is also called “sashimi tamari”.

Tamari soy sauce was originally created during the process of making miso.

While fermenting soybeans in order to make miso,

Some liquid oozed out and gathered in the bottom of the barrel.

Tamari soy sauce is thicker than other soy sauce

This is because the amount of water added while tamari is made is less than other soy sauce.


When you make koikuchi soy sauce, the amount of water you need is 1.3 times the amount of the ingredients which are soybeans, wheat flour, and koji.


When you make tamari, the amount of water you need is half of the ingredients.

You might think tamari soy sauce has a higher percentage of sodium. Right?


The sodium amount of tamari is similar to koikuchi soy sauce

Tamari soy sauce contains 16 to 17% of sodium.

This is the same amount as koikuchi soy sauce.

Shiro shoyu has a light brown color

Shiro means white in Japanese.

Shiro soy sauce was born in Hekinan city in Aichi prefecture.

It has a lighter color than usukuchi soy sauce.

This type of soy sauce is used for Japanese style pilaf, soup, and steamed egg custard.

Do you know the reason why?

This is because of its lighter color.

Shiro shoyu won’t dye food brown like other kinds of soy sauce.

The main ingredient of shiro shoyu is wheat flour

When you make koikuchi soy sauce, you use 50% of soybeans and 50% of wheat flour as ingredients.


When you make shiro soy sauce, you use 90% of wheat flour and 10% of soybeans.

Some people even don’t use any soybeans.

The fermentation time of shiro shoyu is only 3 months

After roasting soybeans and steaming wheat flour, you mix all the ingredients of shiro shoyu.

3 months later, you get the shiro shoyu in the bottom part without mixing.

This extracted liquid is called the first batch.

After this process, squeeze the rest of the ingredients.

And this is the second batch.

Kanro Shoyu (Saishikomi Shoyu)

This kanro soy sauce has a unique process of making.

Instead of salty water, you use koikuchi soy sauce to fermentate soybeans and wheat flour.

Because of this, it has a thick taste and flavor.

Kanro soy sauce has umami, sweetness, and saltiness at the same time. So…

It is the best for making teriyaki, simmered dishes, sashimi, and sushi.

Kanro soy sauce was born in Yanai City, Yamaguchi prefecture.

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