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How to Make Soy Sauce (The Old-Fashioned Way)

December 10, 2018

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.)

Ingredients:

Raw soybeans

Raw whole wheat kernels

Yeast

Water

Sea salt

Equipment:

Fine mesh strainer

Large stockpot with a lid

Frying pan

Mill

Large metal tray

Food thermometer

Shallow box with a lid

Large spoon

Wooden barrel with airtight lid

Hand blender

Muslin or cheesecloth

Weights (or an industrial press)

Bowl

Instructions:

  1. Put the raw soybeans into the fine mesh strainer, and rinse twice with water
  2. 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.
  3. When the soybeans are about done, take the wheat and dry roast it in the frying pan for about 25 minutes.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.
  6. On the tray, thoroughly mix in the wheat with the soybeans.
  7. Now, sprinkle on the yeast, and make sure it’s well combined with the wheat and soybeans.
  8. 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).
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Let it ferment for an additional 12 months, but open up the barrel once a week for blending.
  13. 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).
  14. Squeeze the mash—or place it under weights or an industrial press—to squeeze out all the liquid into a bowl.
  15. Filter the liquid via a fine mesh strainer to catch any impurities. You’ve made soy sauce!
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