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Soy Sauce Basics

History of soy sauce

Discovered more than 2,500 years ago, soy sauce is thought to be one of the world's oldest condiments. It has remained a cornerstone of many Asian cuisines. Today, it is increasingly known in the West as a flavouring and flavour-enhancing ingredient for many types of foods.

History of soy sauce

Where did it all begin?

To prepare for winter, people of prehistoric Asia preserved meat and fish by packing them in salt. The liquid that leached from the preserved meat was subsequently used as a base for savoury broths and seasonings.In the sixth century AD, the practice of Buddhism flourished in both Japan and China. Many Buddhists practiced vegetarianism, which created the need for a meatless seasoning. One such seasoning consisted of a salty paste of fermented grains including soybeans, the first known product to resemble modern soy sauce. While studying in China, a Japanese Zen priest came across this new seasoning. Upon returning to Japan, the priest began making his own version and introduced it to others. Over the years, the Japanese modified the ingredients and brewing techniques. One change was the addition of wheat in equal proportion to the soybeans. This produced a soy sauce with a more balanced flavour profile that enhanced food flavours without overpowering them.