Visiting a Soy sauce brewer in Shodoshima

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There are VERY important Soy sauce brewer in Shodoshima/Kagawa. It’s Yamaroku soy sauce. I visited their descendant in the fifth generation, Mr. Yamamoto.

Soy sauce island – Shodoshima

Shodoshima is a island in Seto inland sea, where is famous for making soy sauce.
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What is great about Shodoshima’s soy sauce is they are made by traditional method, and more importantly, they are mostly made in wooden barrels.  Apparently, ONLY 1 % of all Japan made soy sauce is brewed in wooden barrel. Only 1 %!!  I believe soy sauce made in wooden barrel by traditional method is the real soy sauce, but these soy sauce is so precious nowadays. But still, there are some artisan who puts effort to make real soy sauce. In Shodoshima, you can find these people.  1/3 of the 1% of Japanese wooden barrel made soy sauce is from Shodoshima!!

Bacteria lives in mud walls and wooden barrels
In Yamaroku soy sauce, visiter can enter the special room, which is registered tangible cultural property. This is the room to ferment the base of soy sauce.  The liquid before squeezing called Moromi, so accurately, it is “Moromi room”.

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There are not many soy sauce brewers allow us to be in the Moromi room. However, here in  Yamakuro, kindly, they let us in! Very lucky to see, hear and smell them directly. So precious moment!! In Yamaroku, there are 60 wooden barrels and wall of this Moromi room is old mud wall. This is the treasure of Yamaroku, bacteria live in these places, and works for soy sauce. This is the secret of making yummy soy sauce.

Can you see the stick? (bit dark!)  The Soy sauce master stands on this floor, and mix soy sauce with this long stick.

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This barrel is 150 years old.  Over these periods, lots of different kinds of bacteria has been lived in the barrel, and helped to make unique soy sauce. (According to Yamakuro, more than 100 different type of bacteria!! That’s just amazing!!)

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This is sort of squeezing soy sauce machine, but actually they don’t squeeze. They just let soy sauce to come out from the bag, just using gravity to make clear taste soy sauce.

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The passion! The love! The sense of mission!

The Mr. Yamamoto has a strong determination which I really respect (and almost made me cry!).  Wooden barres last about 200 years. In Yamaroku, most of wooden barrels are 100-150 years old. That means, they can keep making real soy sauce for next 50 years, but not anymore – not to the his grandkid generation. He felt a sense of crisis. He thought this was the real problem. His determination is to remain REAL soy sauce made with cedar wooden barrel to his kids & grandkids generation, and so he decided to to become an artisan to make wooden barrels as well as being real soy sauce brewer. He thought it might be reckless, but nothing can be achieved without trying. Then he launched the project called “Revive wooden barrel artisan project” since 2012.

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Japan is facing serious situation.  In spite of wooden barrels are the best and perfect fermentation container as bacteria can live in the wood, obviously we are loosing this wonderful proper fermentation culture as you can understand that only 1% of Japanese soy sauce production is made with wooden barrel. It resulted into the situation that only one company remains in Japan who can make big wooden barrels! And sadly, this company will close their business in 3 years.  If we don’t learn from him now, we have absolutely nobody who can make these beautiful and important tools anymore, which means no chance to order big wooden barrels anywhere in the Japan, probably in the world. That is the reason which made Mr. Yamamoto moves urgently.  He thought ” I have to try this NOW”.

Check his project in this video!

 

He started a new career as a wooden barrel artisan, and Mr. Yamamoto and his project keep making 3 – 4 barrels every year since then. Some barrels stayed in Yamaroku, some delivered to other soy sauce brewers. (One is in Milan, Italy!!)   I really appreciate his decision and effort. There are more important thing than efficiency.  I don’t think it is too much to say that he saved Japanese fermentation culture. Hope more brewers use wooden barrel to make real soy sauce!

If you ever come to Seto inland sea, (I know many people visit Naoshima or Setouchi Triennale), I recommend to visit this Yamaroku Soy sauce brewer in Shodoshima! Check their Moromi room and taste these yummy ice cream and pudding with soy sauce!! (Amazingly, It really works)
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Of course, you can purchase their real soy sauce! Two types.

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Best wishes to brave Mr. Yamamoto and Yamaroku soy sauce brewer.

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Garlic soy

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This is so useful thing to have in your kitchen for your cooking.
So simple. So yummy. Amazing aroma.

What you need is only Soy sauce (or Tamari) and garlic cloves!
Peel garlic skin and drop peeled garlic cloves into the soy pot.

That’s it.
Then pure Soy sauce become garlic soy.

Int the soy pot, garlic clove become like this – very black after while.
You can use this clove for your cooking as well. (sumer yummy)
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If you smell this garlic soy, I’m sure you will come up with lot’s of ideas what you want to cook with it. Really beautiful aroma. It stimulates your appetite.

For example, this is what I ate today.
I wanted to make something very quick but yummy. Kind of healthy but not too light.

Umeboshi pasta with garlic soy
Ingredients
Pasta (wholemeal)
Umeboshi
Tuna
and Garlic soy

I use genuine Umeboshi, which I made with my mom.
Wanna know more? about Umeboshi making? ->Making Umeboshi.
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While you are cooking pasta, make Umeboshi into paste using knife.
Mix with cooked pasta and add tuna.
Pour garlic soy at the end and mix. That’s it!

If you have greens from the garden, nice to add.
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Also, if you have seaweed in your pantry, cut them thin and use them as a garnish.
It makes this pasta all of sudden Japanese flavour.
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Hope you enjoy garlic soy x

Shio-Koji Daikon Steak !

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This is really good.
If you have Shio-Koji, please try.
Daikon(White radish) become so sweet and so juicy in just few steps.
It might be my favorite Daikon dish.

Step 1: Cut Daikon.
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I used only upper part, because this part is sweeter than lower part.
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Cut into about 2cm – 3 cm.
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Step 2: Steam them first.
If you have steamer, you can use it.
I don’t have it, so I used normal pan with bit of water.
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Step 3 : Prepare marinade sauce. Only 2 ingredients.
Shio-Koji & Soy Sauce.

Shio-Koji (2 table spoons)
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Add soy sauce (2 tea spoons)
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Then mix well.
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Step 4 : Marinade Daikon with this shio-koji soy sauce.

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Step 5 : Pan grill them!!

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For both side until it become golden.
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That’s all. Easy huh?
It’s worth trying. Really yummy. Hope you enjoy this Daikon Steak!!
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Tamago kake Gohan – today’s my breakfast (Asa gohan)

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Today’s breakfast, main dish is…simply this!!
It’s Tamago kake Gohan, meaning, rice with poured raw egg.
We often have this for breakfast.
I guess, because it is very quick and yummy.
Good for morning.(Time is limited in the morning!!!)

Teda-.
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Side dishes were
Kiriboshi Daikon
Radish Pickles
as I introdued before.
And of course, Miso soup with full of Wakame seaweed.

Back to the main dish.
Egg! Important.
It have to be a very fresh one.
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Then break the egg.
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Add some Soy sauce.
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Now need bit work with rice.
Make a little dent so that egg can stay.
(Actually, this is just for looks)
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Then place the braked egg onto the rice.
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See? Looks nice.

Then, start eating!!
Mix the egg with rice.
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If you like, add some more soy sauce.
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Done!
Eat eat eat.
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If you can not use chopsticks well, don’t hesitate to use spoon.
This Tamago kake gohan is very slimy.
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To make this dish yummy,
it is important to use good soy sauce, too.
I used this.
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This soy sauce needed 2 years to be completed.
Following traditional method, carefully made. Amazingly, full of umami.
I visited this soy sauce store house while I am in Japan,
the report of my visit will come shortly.
If you are interested to purchase, it is available. Please contact me.

Tuna tail steak ~Garlic Teriyaki sauce~

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If you have a chance to go to the fish market, get tuna tails.
That cheap tuna tails turns into yummy dish with Soy sauce.
And it is very easy.

 

Ingredients!
Tuna tail
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Seasonings.
Soy sauce, Sugar, sake.
Mix them all.
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Oh, and potato starch if you have.
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Lightly coat the tuna with potato starch.
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Well, let’s start cooking.

Cook the chopped garlic & ginger with bit of olive oil on the pan until you can smell nice fragrance.
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Take the garlic & ginger from the pan and set aside for a moment.
(The garlic & ginger will be used later)
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Grill the surface of the tuna tail.
This steps help to contain Umami flavor inside!!
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Both side.
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Then put the lid on, broil it thoroughly.
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When it is cooked, pour the mixed sauce (Soy sauce, sugar, sake) with garlic & ginger you used for the oil previously.
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Cook it until the sauce become little bit thicker.
(Just a few minutes)

 
Now prepare garnish.
It is not only garnish, it is to be eaten.
Super food, Daikon!!

Daikon is great vegetable to eat with fish,
why?
It is because Daikon removes the fish smell.
ALSO!! Enzyme in Daikon will help digest fish protein,
but remember, it has to be raw Daikon.

Therefore, we often use Daikon Oroshi (graded Daikon) when we eat grilled fish.
To make Daikon Oroshi, we use special tool.
There are some different style ( I might introduce some of them later),
but today I use plate type.

 
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The point to make yummy Daikon Oroshi is, make(draw) a circle on the plate.
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Eat graded Daikon with this yummy Tuna tail!
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Hope you enjoy ♪♪

Making Shoyu (Soy sauce)

How to make Shoyu (Soy sauce) at home?

This is Koji to make Shoyu.

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Look like….mud.

Shoyu (Soy sauce) is made from “soybeans”, “wheat”, “koji bacteria” and salted water.
Both steamed/cooked soybeans and roasted wheat are mixed with Koji bacteria in the special Koji room called Koji muro (麹室).
This is the one shown as above photo.

For home made Shoyu, you can start from this process by purchasing this prepared Koji for Shoyu.
Once you get this Koji, the making process not that hard.
What you need is LOVE to look after your shoyu, and TIME for slow process.

With this prepared Koji + Salt + Water + fermentation period = Your Soy sauce!! Yeah!

Prepare….Koji, salt, water and a big jar.
In the big jar (My one is bit too small …. difficult to put  hand. Bigger one is recommended)
First, decide how long you want to ferment your Soy Sauce.
(From 6 months to 12 months)
Depend of the fermentation length, you can calculate how much salt you need to your  Soy Sauce.
(From approx 18% to 22 %)

Prepare salted water.

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Then pour the salted water to the jar.

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Mix them well by your hand in the jar.
(That’s why you need a big jar)

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At first, Soy Sauce Koji doesn’t want to be mixed with salted water,
but after while you are mixing it, they become friend with salted water 🙂

This is how it looks at this moment.

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Wipe the jar, keep it clean.

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Place the jar in the dark + cool place.

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Mix Shoyu every day for the first week.
After the first week, mix like this once a week for 6 months to 12 months.

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This is the surface of the second day.
Can you see little bubble is coming to the surface?
It’s alive Shoyu, fermenting now ~~.
Taste ? Sharp saltiness.

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It is a slow fermentation process.
That’s why it is good ♪
That’s why it has a great flavor ♪
That’s why it has many nutritious benefits ♪

This is the photo of 4 months age.
Surface looks different from the first day, doesn’t it?
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Taste already good, but I want to wait few more months to grow.
Looking forward to have my own Shoyu soon !!!

Shoyu-koji preparation ~Soy Sauce Koji~

Another miracle seasoning is Shoyu-Koji (Soy Sauce Koji) !!
What you need is to wait for a month.
During this time, Koji bacteria works for you.

Here is ingredients to start. Only these !!

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Dried Koji (200g) and Say sauce (400 cc)
(When you use raw Koji, then Say sauce will be 300cc)
Please use naturally brewed soy sauce ♪
Prepare a disinfected bottle in boiling water

Put Koji in bottle.
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Then pour say sauce.
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Then mix well.
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Until this looks like this
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1st day, Koji in soy sauce looks like this. Looks young :-p
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But after few months later, it will look just like this ↓↓
Taste become really good after few months later, but you can start using it approx after 1 month .

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Taste it, try it for cooking !!
Umami from soy and additonal Koji, it is really full of umami.
How to use this Shoyu Koji will be introduced following blog.

On the bottle, I normally put label with date I prepared.
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On the back, it is useful if you leave the quantities as memo.
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