Soy sauce….Who’d have thought it could be so fun! Last night I had the pleasure of attending a culinary feast for the eyes and the belly. Kikkoman, the soy sauce kings, invited me to a cookery master-class and dinner. This was no ordinary dinner though! The master-class was run by Kikkoman at Matsuri restaurant – a restaurant in central London owned by Kikkoman and the Japanese railway. Yes I too thought this was bizarre until I realised the connection – the designer of the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle also designed the iconic bullet train in Japan. The in-house chefs were amazing and Simon Hulstone of Elephant Restaurant in Torquay cooked up some delectable scallops. I had some great laughs too with Annie of scrummy suppers quirky cakes, Michael the food curator, Lucy of super golden bakes, Bing of Kikkoman UK and everyone else who was there.
Simon cooking scallops
Kikkoman soy sauce is a product I have been familiar with since I was quite young. Growing up in Australia I saw the bottle on the table of nearly every South East Asian restaurant there. Chinese restaurants, Japanese and even the funky (and super affordable!) little Vietnamese restaurant I went to when at Uni. I’ll be honest though, I’ve never really associated it with cooking. I guess I perceived it to be too light and always choose a heavy darker soy sauce. As it turns out these heavier darker soy sauces are made that way by adding caramel or sugar, often high fructose corn syrup to them – solving a long-standing dilemma of mine….why my soy sauce burns. It shouldn’t! The sugar in other soy sauces burns but Kikkoman soy sauce doesn’t (at a normal cooking temperature). I am ridiculously happy to have discovered this. Anyhow… The name Kikkoman comes from Kikko (Turtle) and Man (10,000) i.e. turtles live to 10,000 years old (Japanese legend not fact…) and are symbolic of happiness, riches and a long life. All things I’d like to have thank you!
What is in it?
The Nutritionist in me was fascinated with the fact it is a natural product made with just 4 ingredients:
- Salt (they also make a reduced salt soya sauce)
- Wheat (they also make a wheat free soya sauce)
How is it made?
I’ve been to enough food factories to know how quickly products can be churned out I am impressed that it is brewed for 6 months. This process is long and unhurried and develops the flavour fully and comprehensively. Like a fine wine or cheese it is just not possible to get this depth of flavour by flash processing. You can mimic it by adding flavours but its not good and its not satisfying. Kikkoman is the real deal. They even have a ‘tasting’ procedure like wine – colour, viscosity, smell and taste. I enjoyed the tasting although I admit I’d rather spend an afternoon wine tasting than soy sauce tasting 🙂
In detail: the steamed soybeans, (non GMO, from Brazil), roasted and milled wheat (non GMO, from Germany) are fermented with enzymes. Then the salt and water (locally sourced) are added to create ‘moromi’ (a mash). The mormoi ferments for 6 months, after which it is wrapped in cloth and pressed, filtered and pasteurised. This may sound complicated but compared to most other food processes this is simple and straightforward.
How can I use it?
- Can be used instead of seasoning -to replace salt and pepper
- Stocks, sauces, soups
- Mixing with egg yolk before brushing pastries or bread (some things shouldn’t be questioned and just ‘work’ right?!)
- Yorkshire pudding batter
- Chutney or pate
- Beans on toast, cheese on toast etc
- Stir fries or salads
- Desserts – chocolate dishes, ice cream, cheesecake
You can check out my recipe here using Kikkoman soy sauce. I adapted a recipe from their book – try it, its sensational!
What’s good about it?
As a salt replacement you will get alot more punch per volume. Whereas salt tends to enhance only particular flavours soy sauce will enhance all of them. As it contains the 4 flavours; salty, sweet, sour and bitter it will also enhance all of those flavours. As a bonus it contains what the Japanese refer to as ‘Umami’. Not Miami…as per my spell checker! Umami is the 5th flavour that we can perceive. It is similar to salty but not as harsh and has a more ‘mmm that’s delicious’ kind of taste to it; Umami enhances the overall flavour and palatability of a dish. Most of us know this flavour when we try it and many of us were lucky enough to sample it in our first food – breast milk. Incidentally this is what food technologists aim to do with most manufactured foods; to enhance flavour, palatability and mouth feel.
Once again eating authentic, whole foods with natural ingredients hits the spot when it comes to satiety and getting the feel good factor. Kikkoman; I am converted!
Fancy cooking with soy? Check out my recipe’s here.
Disclaimer: Kikkoman supplied me with 3 sample bottles and a complimentary meal (that was terrific!).