soy sauce

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soy sauce
Kikkoman Soy Sauce, Front-view jp-type, .jpg
Japanese soy sauce - Industrial Kikkoman production , 2012
Chinese name
Long characters 醬油
Abbreviation 酱油
Pinyin jiàngyóu
Jyutping zoeng 3 jau 4
Cantonese name
Long characters 豉 油
Abbreviation 豉 油
Pinyin chǐyóu
Jyutping si 6 yaw 4
Vietnam. designation
Quốc Ngữ xì dầu
Hán tự 豉 油
Japanese name
Kanji 醤 油
Kana し ょ う ゆ
Hepburn shōyu
Korean name
Hangeul 간장
RR ganjang
MR kanjang
Filipino name
Tagalog toyo
Malay name
Bahasa Malaysia kicap
Bahasa Indonesia kecap

Soy sauce , also known as soy sauce, is an Asian seasoning sauce made from water, soybeans , salt and - regionally limited - from grain , which is suitable for seasoning and refining dishes.

Of all the soy sauces on the market, the Japanese and Chinese soy sauces are best known in German-speaking countries . In the case of Chinese products, a distinction is generally made between the light and dark variants. Soy sauces are also characterized by different manufacturing processes. For traditionally fermented - "brewed" - soy sauces, microorganisms require Kōji - Aspergillus flavus var. Oryzae and Aspergillus sojae . Weeks or months for fermentation , in industrial production this can be accelerated by additives. Because of the glutamate split off from the rice and wheat proteins during fermentation , soy sauce is a natural flavor enhancer .

The quality of soy sauce is assessed in a sensory test called “Kikimi” in Japan . Four criteria are important for tasting: color, consistency, smell and taste. As part of the Japanese “Kikimi”, these criteria are tested one after the other. The so-called fifth dimension of taste umami is also tested.


Origins in china

Soy sauce originated in ancient Chinese and developed from the products chǐ -  - "salted, fermented soybeans" - and jiàng -  /   - "fermented soybean paste". In the late Western Han Dynasty (207 BC to 9 AD), Chǐ and jiàng were already goods of great economic importance. In contrast, the sources on soy sauce from this period are rather vague.

The historically earliest written mention of the term soy sauce in today's spelling - 醬油  /  酱油 , jiàngyóu - can be found in two recipe collections from the Southern Song Dynasty (1126–1279): " Wúshì Zhōngkuìlù " - 吳氏 中 饋 錄  /  吴氏 中馈 录  - "Ms. Wu's recipe collection" - and " Shānjiā Qīnggōng ". It describes the use for seasoning meat dishes, vegetables and seafood.

It can be assumed that soy sauce, under other names, was known much earlier. What makes the clear assignment more difficult is the slight etymological shift in meaning that the word jiàng - - has experienced over time: It was originally a generic term for spicy pastes and sauces made from various pickled, fermented ingredients, for example meat - 肉醬 , ròu jiàng , fish - 魚 醬 , yú jiàng , wheat , rice and (soy) beans - 豆醬 , dòu jiàng . After all, jiàng was mainly understood to mean the paste made from fermented soybeans - without any more precise specification by a prefix .

Some researchers interpret the qīng jiàng - 清 醬  - "clear jiàng" - mentioned in the farmers' calendar " Sìmín yuèlìng " ( Eastern Han Dynasty , approx. 160 AD) as an earlier name for soy sauce.


Soy sauce found its way to Japan in the 6th century - at the time of Sui or Tang China - through a Buddhist religious community that banned the consumption of meat and sauces based on it and therefore brought Chinese soy sauce to Japan. The Chinese soy sauce became popular very quickly after its import into Japan, as it enriched the taste of the then rather monotonous rice-based food. It was also found that soy sauce could preserve food longer. In the 16th century, attempts were made with the original Chinese soy sauce, which was made only from soy beans, salt and water, and the Japanese soy sauce was born. In addition to the soybeans, an equal proportion of wheat was added to this. In addition, the Japanese soy sauce was "brewed" longer - fermentation time - than the Chinese. In this way, both the taste and the aroma and color of the soy sauce could be changed significantly.

There is also the real tamari sauce - Miso-Damari; Uwahiki, which is also known as soy sauce, but this is not entirely true, as miso damari is the liquid residue left behind in making miso .

Import to Europe

Soy sauce came to Europe with Dutch traders in the 17th century . The term soy was derived from the Japanese name shōyu - for soy sauce.

Japanese soy sauce

Typical of Japanese soy sauce is a high proportion of wheat as the starting ingredient, which results in a stronger sweetness compared to Chinese sauces. However, varieties with little or no wheat are also produced, for example tamari . Furthermore, a certain proportion of alcohol is typical, which among other things has a preservative effect.

The total production volume in Japan in 2001 amounted to 10.3 million hecto liters , 52% in the highest quality - naturally fermented.

Traditional production

The starting ingredient is - Japanese - soybeans. They are ground, steamed and mixed with roasted and ground wheat meal. The enrichment with specific microorganisms - Kōji - creates a dry mash - Moromi . This is mixed with salt and water to a pulp. This is filled into barrels made of cedar wood - taru - in which the grain can ferment . While the mixture of soy, wheat, salt and water matures in the solid bioreactors , the taste- defining enzyme reaction takes place , in which the soy protein is broken down into individual amino acids , which determine the color, aroma and flavor of the soy sauce. As with wine , numerous factors influence the end product: the temperature when the beans are first mashed and the weather in the following months, the material of the barrels, the cellar they are in, the water that was used, and even the beans. Artisanal soy sauce therefore tastes different from year to year and from barrel to barrel. The ripening period can be between six and eight months, but also several years, with some top-quality sauces even up to five years. At the end of the ripening period, the now almost finished soy sauce is wrapped in textiles and pressed, filtered and finally pasteurized to give it a longer shelf life guarantee.


Shoyu - Modern Japanese varieties of soy sauce
variety Koikuchi Usukuchi Tamari Shiro Saishikomi A
Taste - type of
濃 口 - strong, intense 薄 口 - mild, light た ま り - tamari - bright, white 再 仕 込 - brewed twice
description most common variety; strong aroma; Soybeans and wheat in similar proportions milder taste; Soybeans and wheat in similar proportions very little wheat content high proportion of wheat Instead of brine, Koikouchi-Shōyu is used; Intense taste accordingly
Market share
(Japan, 2001)
83% 14% 1.8% 0.6% 0.8%
colour dark brown light brown dark brown golden yellow dark brown
Typical for the region Japan; Once only the Kantō region Kansai region Chūbu , Nagoya region - -
Glutamic acid
(g / 100 ml)
1.20 0.91 1.70 0.31 1.20
Reduce Sugar
(g / 100 ml)
2.55 4.05 4.36 21.04 4.70
(ml / 100 ml)
2.68 3.13 0.15 B Tracks B Tracks B

There are different quality levels: Special Grade - Tokkyū , 特級 ; Upper Grade - Jōkyū 上級 ; Standard Grade - Hyōjun , 標準 and Extra Select, Tokusen 特 選 and Ultra-Extra Select - Chō-tokusen , 超 特 選 .

There is also an unpasteurized raw sauce called Nama-shoyu or Kijōyu - called 生 醤 油 . Salt-reduced variants are called genes - 減 塩 - 50% less or Usujio - 低 塩 - 13% less.

A. Also known as Kanro Shōyu - 甘露 醤 油 - sweet dew soy sauce or delicious soy sauce
B. Alcohol is often added afterwards.

Industrial manufacture

In addition to the traditional fermentation described above, more cost-effective manufacturing processes have been developed in which the production time of months and years - as is usual with traditional production - is reduced to a few days.

The starting product for this is soy protein , which has been dissolved from soy flour with water. This soy protein is hydrolyzed with hydrochloric acid . Then, lactic acid bacteria and yeast added.

However, hydrolysis at high temperatures creates certain proportions of undesirable components such as furfural , dimethyl sulfide , hydrogen sulfide and levulinic acid , which are not present in natural fermentation. Since the soy sauces produced in this way also differ significantly in taste from the naturally fermented sauces, they are z. Sometimes mixed with high-quality soy sauces. In many cases, other ingredients such as flavors , glutamate , sugar, preservatives and caramel are added for coloring.

To distinguish them from industrially produced soy sauce, traditionally manufactured products are usually explicitly marketed with the addition of “naturally brewed” or “naturally fermented”. 100% traditionally naturally fermented according to the original recipe - Honjōzō hōshiki - 本 醸 造 方式 , 30–50% traditionally naturally fermented according to a new recipe - Hinshiki hōshiki - 新式 方式 .

Other soy sauces

Various soy sauces are also produced in other Asian countries.

In China , the Jiàngyóu sauce, i.e. soy sauce - 醬油  /  酱油 - is traditionally made from soybeans only, other recipes also allow additional ingredients. A distinction is made in the production of Chinese soy sauces according to their fermentation time between Tóuchōu - 頭 抽  /  头 抽  - "first creation", Shēngchōu - 生 抽  - "young creation" and Lǎochōu - 老抽  - "older creation". There are also soy sauces based on the type of ingredient recipe, such as Shuānghuáng - 雙 璜  /  双 璜  - "double fermentation of the molds ". In Taiwan there is Yìnyóu - 蔭 油  /  荫 油, known as "fermented sauce" . Another yìnyóu sauce made from black soybeans is the so-called Hēidòu yīnyóu - 黑豆 蔭 油  /  黑豆 荫 油 .

In Indonesia , the kecap sauce is known, a thick, sweet, syrup-like soy sauce, which is made from black soybeans, roasted grain, manioc , salt, palm sugar or raw sugar as well as a "kecap-kōji" Aspergillus spp. , Tempeh is also used for inoculation. In Malaysia , the syrup-like sauce is called kicap .

In Korea the soy sauce is called Ganjang - 간장 . There are the types Hansik-ganjang - 한식 간장 or Jaelaesig-ganjang - 재래식 간장 - a traditional sauce that can be divided into three ages. A modern sauce Gaelyang-ganjang - 개량 간장 - of which there are also several types. Fermented soybean blocks - Meju, which are interspersed with various mushrooms, serve as the basis, but it is also fermented as in Japan.



  • William Shurtleff, Akiko Aoyagi: History of Soy Sauce (160 CE To 2012). Soyinfo Center, 2012, ISBN 978-1-928914-44-0 , online (PDF; 23.42 MB), at, accessed February 17, 2017.
  • Albrecht Rothacher: The return of the samurai: Japan's economy after the crisis. Springer , Berlin , Heidelberg 2007, ISBN 978-3-540-45112-9 , pp. 8 , Chapter 2 - An Economic History: From the Samurai of the Shogunate to the Salarymen of the Speculative Economy ( full text in the google book search).
  • Stefanie Kremer, Jozina Mojet, Ryo Shimojo: Salt Reduction in Foods Using Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce. In: Journal of Food Science. 74, 2009, pp. S255-S262, doi: 10.1111 / j.1750-3841.2009.01232.x


  • Shoyu - secrets of Japanese cuisine. Documentary, 2014, 49:14 min., Script and director: Shohei Shishata, production: Japan, NHK , Asia Documentary Productions, Point du Jour, France , German first broadcast: June 29, 2018 on arte , summary - ARD .

Web links

Commons : Soy Sauce  - Collection of Images
Wiktionary: soy sauce  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Keith A. Powell, Annabel Renwick, John F. Peberdy: The Genus Aspergillus: From Taxonomy and Genetics to Industrial Application. Springer, 2013, ISBN 978-1-4899-0981-7 , p. 161.
  2. ^ William Shurtleff, Akiko Aoyagi: History of Koji - Grains And / or Soybeans Enrobed with a Mold Culture (300 BCE To 2012). Soyinfo Center, 2012, ISBN 978-1-928914-45-7 .
  3. ↑ Soy Sauce - A Touch of the Far East - A completely natural flavor enhancer. In: Retrieved December 29, 2014 .
  4. Hsing-Tsung Huang: Fermentations and Food Science. In: Science and Civilization in China. Volume 6: Biology and Biological Technology, Part 5: Fermentations and Food Science, edited by Joseph Needham , Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2000, ISBN 0-521-65270-7 .
  5. John Belleme, Jan Belleme: The Miso Book: The Art of Cooking with Miso. Square One Publishers, 2004, ISBN 978-0-7570-0028-7 , p. 31.
  6. ^ The Difference Between Shoyu and Tamari on , accessed February 19, 2017.
  7. ^ William Shurtleff, Akiko Aoyagi: Soyfoods Industry and Market. 5th Edition, Soyinfo Center, 1985, ISBN 978-0-933332-20-1 , p. 105.
  8. soy. In: Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary. Retrieved March 11, 2010 (English).
  9. a b c Keith Steinkraus (Ed.): Industrialization of Indigenous Fermented Foods. 2nd edition, CRC Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0-8247-4784-8 , p. 14 f.
  10. Effilee No. 30, autumn 2014, p. 10, issue.
  11. Keith Steinkraus (Ed.): Industrialization of Indigenous Fermented Foods. 2nd edition, CRC Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0-8247-4784-8 , p. 12.
  12. Korea's Use of Ganjang (PDF; 3.46 MB), from , accessed on February 25, 2017.
  13. Know your Korean Soy Sauce on , accessed February 25, 2017.