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Traditional Kishibori Shoyu - Made in Barrels Over 100 Years Old


One 2002 day, in our old wood warehouse, we lined up eight different sauces from three different countries on our longest table. It was a completely blind taste test. The result? Well, if we had to say, the similarities that the sauces shared were  simple. Yes, they were all salty - but that was about it. Some were sharp, some were crunch-your-eyes-closed salty, some were bitter, and some were sweet. Our naive and unrefined tastebuds decided that most did not taste great. In fact - to us most tasted down-right awful. And, there was no clear winner; we all picked a different "favorite" sauce.

Who knew that this category of products would end up being - in our humble opinion- one of the best products in the world? 

Years later - after we had refined our palates, we did a much smaller sampling of similar products. This time around, we found that, though the flavor was still overwhelmingly strong, the one thing that this sauce had above all the others was a clean finish. Meaning, no aftertaste when you were done. Pretty impressive, when the whole idea is to use the sauce to enhance the flavor of or add umami to other dishes, while preventing its personality from overtaking the whole dish.

So lets talk about our good friend soy sauce. Soy sauce (Shoyu in Japan) has been around for almost 2,500 years. Made almost everywhere in Asia, the most familiar varieties are made in China, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia. Soy sauce is considered a "crucial" ingredient in most Asian cuisines. Not only does quality soy sauce enhance flavors while contributing an earthy flavor to whatever dish you are preparing, but traditional, artisan-produced, dark soy sauce also contains 10 times the antioxidants of red wine, and helps with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases!

Health Benefits of Traditional Shoyu (Soy Sauce)
There is reason to be concerned about what type of soy sauce you use. Like miso, traditionally brewed shoyu is a fermented soy (and wheat) food, so it has many of the same nutritional properties. The natural fermentation process converts soy proteins, starches and fats into easily absorbed amino acids, simple sugars and fatty acids. A recent study by the National University of Singapore reports that the dark soy sauce has antioxidant properties that are 10x more potent than red wine, and 150 times more effective than vitamin C. It's the high concentration of brown pigment in shoyu that is thought to contribute to its strong antioxidant and anticancer properties. Shoyu is also said to aid in digestion and be rich in minerals.

Compare this to the commercially produced soy sauce. Made with hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), produced by boiling bulk soy beans in hydrochloric acid, and then bating them in sodium hydroxide. The liquid is then colored with added caramel coloring and flavored with artificial flavoring. The whole process takes about, oh, 2 days!

Not only do commercially-produced, "fake" soy sauces not have the same health benefits as the traditionally fermented kind, but they may actually be bad for you, plus, I can tell you from the taste tests we've done, they are not that appealing to-boot. In 2001, the British Food Standards Agency warned that some low-quality soy sauces actually contained high levels of potentially cancer-causing chemicals. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Read more about Traditional Kishibori Shoyu

Serving Suggestioin for Traditional Kishibori Shoyu
I use Kishibori Shoyu when I eat sushi at home, and using a quality shoyu makes a big difference.

Or, kick up your palette a notch with Kishibori Shoyu, instead of that cheap soy sauce you usually use. Your guests will be happy you did!

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Keywords: Traditional, Shoyu, Soy sauce, Japan, Kishibori, umami, health benefits of shoyu, heath benefits of fermented foods