Soy sauce originated in China sometime between the 3rd and 5th century from an older meat-based fermented sauce named jiang. Its use later spread to East and Southeast Asia where it is widely used. Its significant & important flavoring and has been integrated into the traditional cuisines of many East Asian and Southeast Asian cultures. Soy sauce is used as an ingredient and as a condiment.
Traditional soy sauces are made from a fermented paste of boiled soybeans, roasted grain, brine, water, salt, yeast, species of mold cultures (Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae molds) and other related microorganisms.
After fermentation, the paste is pressed, producing a liquid, which is the soy sauce, and a solid byproduct, which is often used in animal feed.
Each Asian country has their own variations of soy sauce. Despite their rather similar appearance, soy sauces made in different cultures and regions are different in taste, consistency, fragrance and saltiness.
“Soy sauce retains its quality longer when kept away from direct sunlight.”
Chinese soy sauces are primarily made from soybeans, with relatively low amounts of other grains. Chinese soy sauce are split into two classes of processing, brewed or blended. Mandarin Chinese call it jiang you, Cantonese call it jeong yau.
Japanese shoyu traditionally divided into five categories depending on differences in their ingredients and method of production. Most, but not all Japanese soy sauces include wheat as a primary ingredient, which tends to give them a slightly sweeter taste than their Chinese counterparts. They also tend towards an alcoholic sherry-like flavor, sometimes enhanced by the addition of small amounts of alcohol as a natural preservative.
Toyo is a soy sauce-based product popular in the Philippines, and is a broad term used for both the Japanese shoyu and Chinese variety. Philippine soy sauce is usually a combination of soybeans, wheat, salt, and caramel color. It is thinner in texture and has a saltier taste than its Southeast Asian counterparts, similar to Japanese variety.
Korean soy sauce is called joseon ganjang and is a byproduct of the production of doenjang; the Korean fermented soybean paste.
In Vietnam, Chinese-style soy sauce is called xi dau. The traditional Vietnamese cuisine itself favors fish sauce.
Malaysia and Singapore, soy sauce in general is referred to as douyou, from Mandarin Chinese.
Taiwanese soy sauce traces back to southeastern China. Taiwan has two varieties, soy bean based sauce and black bean soy sauce.
Soy sauce is a very popular condiment and marinade for many dishes made by people living in Hawaii; island cuisine. Hawaii-Style soy sauce is based of the Japanese version, shoyu.