(This story is sponsored by Lee Kum Kee.)
Most people have a bottle of soy sauce in their cupboard and chances are you’ve never given it much thought. But the household staple is actually one of the most versatile ingredients in your pantry. While you might typically reach for it when preparing and eating Asian cuisine like stir fry and sushi, soy sauce can be used in all manner of recipes as a marinade, dressing, or seasoning.
And the truth is that few condiments have such a rich history. Soy sauce has its roots in "jiang", a meat based fermented sauce traditionally produced exclusively for the Chinese imperial family. When it was found that low-cost soy beans could replace the meat to create an equally delectable flavour, the condiment became widely popular among ordinary people.
So how do the humble ingredients of soy sauce—soy beans, wheat flour, water, and salt—come together to create that distinctive “umami” flavour that adds savoury deliciousness to everything it touches? Lee Kum Kee uses an age-old brewing method with a surprising secret catalyst—sunshine.
At the company’s 10-million-square-foot production plant in Xin Hui, China, it begins by soaking non-GMO beans in water and gently cleansing them while preserving the delicate outer layer of skin. From there, the beans are steam-cooked, cooled, and prepared for koji cultivation, which entails adding wheat and aspergillus, a type of fungus. The resulting mixture, or koji, is combined with brine and transferred to outdoor, food grade fiberglass fermentation tanks that allow sunlight to ferment the sauce for three months to a year, depending on the grade.
But in order to get the very best of soy sauce’s signature flavour, it’s important to understand how it’s made. Lee Kum Kee soy sauce is produced from high-quality non-GMO whole soybeans and wheat flour. It is naturally brewed according to traditional methods, which gives it its deep colour and distinctive aroma that will delicately enhance the taste of any dish. Think pan-fried beef ribs, burgers, pasta, and even traditional Irish colcannon.
With a glorious history of 130 years, Lee Kum Kee has become a household name as a Chinese enterprise of quality and trust. It offers more than 220 varieties of sauces and condiments in more than 100 countries. Look for low sodium and certified kosher options in your local grocery store.
For recipes and to learn more about Lee Kum Kee soy sauces visit the website.