So where was I? Last we spoke I was cleaning out my garage and I found the frozen remnants of my Soy Sauce experiment from back in 2006!
I brought the crock in the house and poked my finger in the middle of it, and thick, Inky, black loveliness. So I decided not to dump it. I added water slowly and got it to a consistency I could strain.
I wound up with a little over a gallon and a half of Davee’s own Primo Soy Sauce!
The complexity, depth, and layers of flavor in this are indescribable. Not bad for just eight years of hard labor and waiting. Why all this fuss over Soy Sauce? Soy Sauce has been around since the second century BCE. First appearing in China, it spread across Asia and is staple in Asian and now cuisines the world over. Most people today buy their Soy Sauce from the grocery store. This factory made stuff has many additives, food colorings etc. all this is done to speed up the fermentation process and cheapen the cost of manufacturing. There was a time when most house holds and villages in Korea, and Japan made their own Soy Sauce. Each with its own distinct recipe and flavor. The process is pretty simple. You need salt, water, soy beans, wheat…Oh, and time. Lots of time. I decided this time to make a traditional Korean Soy Sauce and a Japanese Soy Sauce. For the Japanese batch I found a place in Seattle GEM Cultures which sells Shoyu starter. You need a koji starter to facilitate the fermentation process. This is the good bacteria to get the Shoyu crackin. I ordered some Shoyu starter from GEM Cultures and got to work.
Japanese Soy Sauce Recipe
10 pounds whole dry soy beans
10 pounds whole wheat berries
1 tablespoon shoyu koji starter
8 pounds sea salt
3.4 gallons spring water
I washed and soaked the soy beans over night. Then I boiled them for like ever (around 5 hours) until they were soft and you can mush them with your fingers. Then I took the whole wheat berries and roasted them on my stove top until they were dark and fragrant.
Let the wheat berries cool and coarsely grind them. After the Soy beans cool enough to handle them combine the soy beans and the wheat berries adding the koji starter. Place about 3 quarts into trays. I used bread pans and incubate them at between 77 – 86 degrees for about 72 hours. Don’t let the temperature rise above 104 degrees though or disaster will ensue. Sounds difficult but I popped my trays into my oven and that worked fine. I left the rest of the mixture covered on my stove stop, and that worked even better! I live in Cali so cold weather was not a factor in temperature regulation.
After a day or 2 you should notice a fuzzy white fungus growing. BINGO Babeee! Combine the spring water with the salt. Add the wheat and soy bean mixture and mix well. Leave the top open. Cover in cheese cloth to keep dust and insects out.
My daughter was kind enough to label my crocks and pose for this pic. Thank Uuuuuuuu!!! Allow it to stand in a clean place at a natural temperature for exactly 12 months (or 8 years). Mix daily for the first three days, then once a week for the rest of the year.
For my Korean batch, I went old school. Instead of buying Koji starter I made my own. Traditionally in Koreans would make their own Meju. These are dried bricks of fermented soy beans and flour wrapped in straw. You could buy them in markets or make them yourself.
I made my own. Basically I took 2 pounds of dried soy beans, washed, soaked and cooked them. After cooking, I drained them and added 11 ounces of dry whole wheat flour and formed my meju bricks.
Now it takes weeks or even months for these bricks to dry. They were hung in barns or the kitchen…And they stink real bad.
I wrapped mine in several layers of cheese cloths and hung them in my kitchen. But before all the hanging you need to wrap them in damp towels and plastic wrap and pop them back in the oven for a week or two to get that good mold growing. you are in essence making your own koji.
All that mold is good ya’ll! Here’s my moldy menu bricks unwrapped.
Beautiful aren’t they! There is a more manageable way to accomplish all of this. You can make cookies instead of bricks. Same process just smaller.
Here’s what they look like after drying. Trust me when I tell you. These bad boys smell like straight Doo Doo!
These are my precious Meju bricks that hung in my kitchen for a couple of months.
After the bricks have finally dried, combine them with your spring water and salt. In the Korean version dried peppers, Korean grain syrup, red hot Oak wood charcoal, and toasted Jujube are added to the mixture.
Korean Soy Sauce
8 pounds Sea salt
5 gallons spring water
2 pieces of oak charcoal
1/2 gallon Korean white grain syrup
5 toasted Jujubes
2 dried hot Korean red peppers
Here are my Traditional Korean Onggi pots sitting outside filled with potential Soy Sauce! Wish me luck!
*I found my Onngi pots downtown at a marvelous Korean Market Sai Chang on Olympic Blvd. Below the market is grocery supply store. I went in and inquired about purchasing a couple of Onngi pots. A Korean gentleman helped me, thumping the pots pots I chose to make sure they were not cracked. As he carefully wrapped them several Korean women gathered around examining me and the pots whispering excitedly and giggling in Korean, Finally the man told me with a huge grin. “These pots are for ladies work!” and they all burst out laughing and pointing at me…Nnnnniiiiiicccceeee. Really made my day. Check back in a bit for an update on my Soy sauce experiment.