Soy sauce has a rich history in Asian cuisine. As a condiment, it is popular all over the world and can be used to add a dash of flavor to all sorts of snacks and meals. Soy sauce is also a key ingredient in many recipes and sauces, making it incredibly versatile and a must-have for home cooks.
It’s easy to buy soy sauce at the supermarket, or to even order it online. Yet, some people still choose to make it themselves. Making it at home is not for the faint-hearted. It takes patience (almost a year’s worth). So, you may be wondering why making soy sauce yourself is something you should do.
Why Make it at Home?
There are a few reasons for making your own soy sauce from scratch. Firstly, it’s cheaper to make it at home if you find yourself consuming a lot of it. If it is a common ingredient in your daily meals, you may be spending quite a lot of money on soy sauce — more than you want to be spending. So, you can either stop using so much, or learn to make it yourself.
Secondly, homemade soy sauce is much less salty than the store-bought options. Fueled by consumer demands, companies started putting more and more sodium into their batches, making modern soy sauce almost dangerously salty.
Thirdly, making soy sauce at home can be a fun project for you if you’re interested in fermentation and/or east Asian culture. The sauce dates back to the year 160 when it was first made in China. Today, the homemade soy sauce making process is quite similar to the way it was originally made.
Whatever reason you have for making your own soy sauce, you’ll be incredibly satisfied once you get to serve up a meal to family and friends using your very own, homemade soy sauce.
Homemade Soy Sauce Recipe
Follow these steps to make shoyu. Shoyu is made with both soybeans and wheat, meanwhile tamari is made without wheat. You’ll only need a few ingredients, and the process is quite easy. Just make sure to follow the instructions carefully, or else your soy sauce may come out badly.
You Will Need…
Step 1 – Wash and soak. Wash the soybeans, then put them into a large container and fill it with double the amount of water. Let the soybeans grow in size and soak overnight. Pour in more water as needed so that the expanding soybeans always stay completely covered.
Step 2 – Cook the beans. Strain the soybeans from the water and let them drip for a few minutes. Then, put them into a pot on the stove with enough water to cover them. Cook on medium heat with the pot lid left slightly open to let the steam escape. At this point, the soybean water can form a scummy layer on top. You can scoop this up and discard it.
When the soybeans are easily mash-able, take them off the heat and let them cool.
Step 3 – Cook and grind the wheat. Put the wheat berries into a skillet on the stove and cook them until golden brown. Then, with a food processor, grind the wheat berries into a coarse powder.
Step 4 – Combine ingredients. Put the soybeans into a large tray or baking sheet. Then, pour the ground wheat berries on top and mix thoroughly. Slightly flatten out the beans and wheat mixture and pour on the koji starter. Cover the tray or trays with a cloth or plastic wrap and place them in a warm area.
It’s important that the koji remains within the 80°F-95°F range. If you feel the tray getting too hot, just mix the beans and koji to cool it down. If it is not hot enough, keep it by a heater or in the sun for 3 days or until white mold has grown across all or most of the beans. You may see discolored mold. If you do, just discard those areas.
Step 5 – Prepare your brine. Take 8 cups of warm filtered water and 4 cups of salt. Pour both into a large glass jar and let the salt dissolve. Once the salt has dissolved, add in the beans and koji mixture and tightly close the jar. You may need to use multiple jars. Then, label the jars with the date so you don’t lose track of time. Put the jars into a warm place.
Step 6 – Sit and stir. This is the step that takes the most patience. Your moromi (brine and koji mixture) needs to sit for at least 6 months. For the first week, stir the moromi once a day. After that, stir at least once a week.
Step 7 – Strain. Once your moromi has turned a dark brown color (6 or 6+ months), it is time to strain it. Using a cloth and/or a strainer, strain the liquid into a bottle. If your shoyu comes out with an odd, unexpected color, don’t worry. This soy sauce is now ready to use. However, if you want to correct the color and make it darker, move on to step 8.
Step 8 – Color correcting. To make your shoyu darker, simply put the bottle of soy sauce out into the hot sun. After a few months, you’ll have a perfectly dark bottle of shoyu to enjoy.
What to Do With Homemade Soy Sauce
Now that you have your own bottle of shoyu, you can explore the long list of recipes that soy sauce can be used in. Marinades, sauces, glazes, stir-fries, soups, and salads all benefit from the richness of soy sauce.
If you want to know more about soy sauce, check out our Ultimate Condiments Guide article.