Soy sauce is not only an indispensable addition to rolls, but also the most important ingredient that helped Asian cuisine win love and reverence. In the XVIII century, Europe acquired not just a soy product, but an inexhaustible field for culinary activities. Salt is replaced with sauce; marinades for meat, fish, and vegetable dishes are prepared on its basis.
But what is an Asian ingredient and is it safe to introduce it into your daily diet?
Soy sauce is one of the most important components of Asian cuisine. It is created by fermenting soybeans. Some specific formulations include the addition of cereals.
Fermentation is the process of decomposition of organic substances under the influence of certain enzymes.
Soy fermentation is due to fungi of the genus Aspergillus (Aspergillus). This type of mushroom is important from the point of view of medicine and commerce. Enzymatic medicines, strong spirits like Japanese sake, miso pasta and soy sauce are prepared from them. Mushrooms are able to cover 99% of the world production of citric acid (about 1.4 million tons per year).
The ingredient is a dark thick liquid. Its distinctive feature is a sharp soy-salty smell. In the Asian culinary tradition, almost every dish is complemented by soy sauce. The component helps to reveal the taste of each ingredient, it is beneficial to emphasize it and put the right accents. Other cultures also liked salt sauce. It is used in minimal quantities as dressing. The product can emphasize the taste of any, even the most fresh dish, therefore it is introduced not only in fish / meat dishes, but also vegetable snacks, cereals.
The ingredient appeared in China in the VIII century BC. Later, soy sauce spread to the territory of East and Southeast Asia, then moved to Europe. In ancient China, fermented fish with a side dish of soybeans was especially popular. Gradually, the dish began to be diluted with ordinary water or other liquids in order to save and increase the volume of a serving. Thanks to such experiments, the dish was transformed into soy sauce.
The local population liked the product so much that they decided to sell and transport it abroad. In 1737, members of the Dutch East India Company witnessed the sale of 75 huge barrels of sauce. Transportation was made from the Japanese island of Dejima to Jakarta (Indonesia). Later 35 barrels went to the Netherlands.
In the XVIII century, with the light hand of the sunny king Louis XIV, Europe became acquainted with a strange ingredient. Louis XIV himself called the product "black gold" and loved to feast on spicy Asian dishes. The western recipe for soy sauce was offered by Isaac Titsing. He was a surgeon who represented the interests of the Dutch East India Company in relation to the feudal military government of Japan. Prior to Titsing, many sauce recipe publications were made, but Europe made its choice.
By the end of XIX century, the soybean component was displaced from the European market. In Europe, they could not learn the basics and characteristics of mushroom fermentation, so Chinese sauce became the new "black gold", and soy was continued to be exported from Asian countries.
Features of industrial production
There are two methods for the industrial production of soy sauce: fermentation and hydrolysis. Some companies use a combination of the two methods to increase production volume and speed.
A traditional soy product is prepared on the basis of a mixture of beans and mushroom grains. In Japan, both fermenting mass and leaven are designated by the single term koji. Previously, huge vats with fermenting mass were exposed in the sun. After the 20th century, they began to use special chambers in which the humidity level and temperature regime are automatically adjusted.
The traditional production of an ingredient takes months and consists of the following stages:
- soybeans are soaked and boiled in water until tender;
- wheat is fried and ground;
- crushed grain and boiled beans are combined, the spores of fungi and other beneficial microorganisms are sown on the mixture;
- the wheat-bean mixture is moistened with a solution of salt or simply sprinkled with salt;
- the mass is left to roam (the time interval can be from 40 days to 3 years);
- fermented porridge is placed under a press to separate liquid from solid waste;
- soy sauce is prepared from the liquid, and the soil is fertilized with oilcake or added to feed livestock;
- raw sauce is pasteurized (heated) so that the yeast and mold die;
- the pasteurized product is fermented, poured into the required container, and then sent to the point of sale.
Some companies refuse a long enzymatic method and choose hydrolysis. Soy protein is hydrolyzed by acids, after which a product similar in taste and composition is obtained. The cooking process takes no more than 3 days. The taste, texture and aroma of hydrolyzed sauce are different from the traditional. This difference can be noticed not only by a sophisticated gourmet, but also by an ordinary consumer. But hydrolysis increases the duration of the sale of the sauce and significantly saves the money of the manufacturer. Therefore, most of the store shelves are precisely hydrolyzed Asian food product.
During hydrolysis, carcinogenic substances can form in soy sauce. Responsibly choose the manufacturer and refuse daily use of the ingredient.
Useful component properties
Nutritionists claim that the properties of soy sauce are identical to soy. Soy is one of the few plant-based ingredients that can cover the need for protein. It concentrates a complete set of vital amino acids, a minimum concentration of saturated fatty acids and absolutely no cholesterol. It is proved that the use of soy sauce is a kind of prevention of cancer pathologies. Due to the high content of sodium (Na), the product can be an excellent alternative to ordinary table salt.
The concentration of antioxidants in soy sauce is 10 indicators higher than in red wine. What does it mean? Soybean food component actively stimulates blood circulation, reduces the risk of developing heart and vascular diseases.
Soy is rich in phytoestrogens - enzymes that have beneficial effects on the reproductive health of women. Herbal phytoestrogens help reduce menstrual pain and relieve symptoms of menopause. Also, the component strengthens the skeletal system, helps to form a high-quality muscle corset. Soy sauce reduces the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease to the lowest possible rate.
Another advantage of the ingredient is the target audience. The sauce can be introduced into the diet for people allergic to animal protein, obesity, pathologies of the cardiovascular system, chronic stool disorders and diabetes.
Harm and possible side effects
The main disadvantage of soy sauce is its high salt concentration. Even a perfectly healthy person should carefully monitor their own diet and avoid disharmonization. Nutritionists recommend that you do not use the ingredient in your daily diet, and if necessary be limited to 1-2 tablespoons.
Soy contains isoflavones. These are components whose composition is very similar to the female sex hormones estrogen. The woman’s body can in no way be affected by isoflavones, but the fetus developing in the womb is at risk. Substances can adversely affect the development of the brain of the embryo and cause many diseases and developmental disorders.
Excessive use of the component can cause allergies, rashes, skin itching, eczema, urticaria, and general health deterioration.
Doctors recommend to refrain from soy sauce in such cases:
- diseases and malfunctions in the functionality of the kidneys;
- an allergic reaction to the product;
- pregnancy (it is necessary to reduce the consumption of the ingredient to a minimum in order to avoid edema).
Use in cooking
The average consumer adds sauce to each dish, with the exception of desserts and sweets. The savory taste of the soy component is organically combined with all products, so there is no need to worry about the compatibility of the ingredients.
On the food stalls most often you can see 2 types of sauce - dark and light. They differ in fermentation time and taste. The dark ingredient is characterized by long exposure, clear sharp notes and a denser, thick consistency. This sauce is perfect for marinades and traditional Asian dishes. Light sauce is more salty and light, and notes of sweetness are clearly visible in the taste palette. It is ideal for dressing vegetable salads, meat / fish dishes, seafood and cereals.
Restaurants often do not serve soy sauce, but whipped foam from it. Airy foam conveys the spicy taste of the sauce from a whole new angle. It is softer, more sophisticated and gourmet. You can prepare the foam yourself. We will need:
- wide shallow capacity;
- hand blender;
- quality soy sauce.
Pour the sauce into the container, immerse the blender and try to find the desired angle. Turn the blender lightly until foam begins to stand out. Remove the air film and put on rolls, sushi, meat steak or your favorite side dish.
How to choose soy sauce
Food shelves are full of a variety of dense glass containers of various shapes and designs. The consumer began to carefully read the composition and ceased to trust the painted containers. Remember - 5 minutes of studying the composition are worth your health, so often refer to the tricky inscriptions on the back of the product.
The rules for choosing soy sauce are as simple as possible. The first thing you need to pay attention to is the point of implementation. Never buy spill sauce at a market or uncertified point of sale. You cannot be sure of the quality of the filling fluid, and it is not always possible to obtain a certificate from such sellers. Buy sauce only in trusted supermarkets that value their own reputation and monitor product safety.
The store shelves are full of goods from various manufacturers, but do not lose your head from such abundance. Quality sauce should be packed in a tight glass container. The walls of the container should be transparent and thick. Plastic containers are best avoided - they cannot preserve the aroma, taste, texture and composition of the product. Make sure that the cover is tightly screwed and there is additional protection against the external environment on the neck.
The next step is the information on the label. Remember: the simpler and shorter the composition, the better the product. The manufacturer must clearly indicate how the sauce is made. It is best to choose containers labeled "fermentation" or "natural fermentation." The composition should include such components:
- soya beans;
- sugar (may be replaced or absent);
- vinegar (may or may not be replaced).
Products with an overloaded composition should immediately be sent back to the shelf. Preservatives, flavorings and other achievements of the industrial gastronomic industry must be eliminated immediately. A well-prepared soy sauce can be stored for several years without the help of auxiliary components. Their presence indicates the incompetence of the manufacturer and the desire to make money on your health. Take a look at the information on the energy value of the sauce - the protein concentration should not be lower than 8%.
The final step is to examine the fluid. It should be uniform and slightly dense. Turbid sauce indicates improper storage conditions or irresponsible transportation.