A beginner’s guide to Shoyu/Tamari selection

Shoyu and Tamari in the Making:

Soy sauce arrived in Japan from China around the 8th century A.D. where the same traditional fermentation methods were used until the 1930’s when the modern approach of using caramel, sugar, and flavour enhancers was introduced. In health food shops such as Mountain Creek only traditionally made shoyu and tamari are sold.

There are 7 basic steps in the making of Shoyu:

1. Whole soyabeans are soaked in water.

2. Cracked whole wheat is added to the beans.

3. The culture is then added (seed koji)

4. The mixture is placed in a temperature controlled chamber and left for two days

5. The matured koji is put in fermentation tanks with salt and water.

6. It is then pressed to yield the raw soy sauce.

7. The raw shoyu is then pasteurized to produce the finished product.

Tamari is made in the same way as shoyu except that it contains no wheat. It is made solely from soybeans, water and sea salt.

Which should you use?

Tamari can be described as having a soft and rich aroma with a smooth well balanced taste. Shoyu has a sharper slightly bitter taste (from the wheat) with a more “alcoholic” note.

Tamari retains it’s full flavour after cooking. On the other hand, shoyu, because it is brewed with wheat, contains more aromatic flavour notes in the form of alcohols and esters that flash off under high temperatures.

Tamari has 37% more organic protein than ordinary shoyu.

We carry the following brands: lotus (made in USA), Spiral (made in Japan), Pureharvest (made in China). While all are made organically, Spiral is made by aging in wooden vats, while Lotus and Pureharvest are prepared in stainless steel vats.