Need a bottle of soy sauce? You could drive five minutes to the nearest grocery store and pick up a bottle for three bucks…or you could make some from scratch with the same method that soy sauce makers in Asia have been using for centuries. (Warning: Choose the latter option, and it’s going to take you a lot longer than five minutes and require a lot more work.)
Raw whole wheat kernels
Fine mesh strainer
Large stockpot with a lid
Large metal tray
Shallow box with a lid
Wooden barrel with airtight lid
Muslin or cheesecloth
Weights (or an industrial press)
- Put the raw soybeans into the fine mesh strainer, and rinse twice with water
- Place the rinsed soybeans into the stockpot, fill the pot with more than enough water to cover the soybeans, and bring to a boil. Place the lid on and let the beans boil for four hours.
- When the soybeans are about done, take the wheat and dry roast it in the frying pan for about 25 minutes.
- Run the roasted wheat through the hand-cranked mill, cracking each piece of wheat into a few rough pieces. (That will allow the yeast to react to the wheat more effectively during the fermentation to come.)
- Remove the soybeans from the water, drain them with the strainer, and spread them out into a thin, single layer on the metal tray. Using the thermometer, monitor the temperature of the soybeans until they cool to 91 degrees Fahrenheit.
- On the tray, thoroughly mix in the wheat with the soybeans.
- Now, sprinkle on the yeast, and make sure it’s well combined with the wheat and soybeans.
- The yeast must be activated to allow the mixture to ferment. Place the mixture into a shallow box into a room you can keep at around 85 degrees. Leave the soybean/wheat/yeast concoction in there for 48 hours. Move the box around every now and then to prevent overheating (which would kill off the yeast).
- When those dry ingredients are about done, it’s time to make the brine. In the stockpot, place a lot of sea salt with an equal amount of water, and let dissolve.
- Transfer the saltwater to the wooden barrel, and add in the dry ingredients to create a soybean mash. Blend it for a few minutes, and then seal the barrel.
- Now is where the fermentation will take place. Leave the barrel to sit for six weeks, but open it up once a day to blend the ingredients and allow gases to escape.
- Let it ferment for an additional 12 months, but open up the barrel once a week for blending.
- After one year, the whole thing will have turned into a muddy, brown mess. Blend it once more before dumping it onto a sheet of muslin (or cheesecloth).
- Squeeze the mash—or place it under weights or an industrial press—to squeeze out all the liquid into a bowl.
- Filter the liquid via a fine mesh strainer to catch any impurities. You’ve made soy sauce!