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History and origins of soy sauce

The way in which we use or think in the present, the spices and the seasoning is in some cases very different from the use that was given hundreds of years ago. The spices and seasonings are not only used as a complement to the dish, had applications as important as the conservation of food, or in your case hide the bad taste of meat already not in such good condition, it is necessary to remember that thousands of years ago, there were no refrigerators and the way they got food was also very different, hunting, the fishing and the harvest of food was in certain seasons and times and had to find a way to keep these products the best way. The soy sauce is part of those spices of antiquity that were born with a purpose and that we can now continue enjoying.

To the spices used to preserve food and enhance flavor in ancient China they were called jiang. One of those jiang came to Japan around the s. VIII, and through the years was to evolve. Among the s. XVI and XVIII century, was already something very similar to what we know today as soy sauce, and for that moment it became a 100% japanese. As much soy as the soy sauce are a fundamental part of japanese cuisine and is included in virtually in all of your recipes and there is a mark that is the icon of Japan, and even is the one that consumes the imperial family: the sauce Kikkoman.

The origins of soy sauce Kikkoman is traced back to the year 1614. In that time Tokugawa Ieyasu takes control of the country and establishes the shōgunato Tokugawa (shōgunato is a military government) but it still had one loose end: the castle of Osaka, from which some daimyo (feudal lords) were rallying to the new government, and claiming that the young Toyotomi Hideyori, son of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, outside the legitimate authority of the government. Toyotomi refused to surrender but was finally defeated a few months later in the year 1615. With this defeat, Maki Shige, escape from Osaka castle accompanied by his son, as was the wife of a samurai Hideyori, who, in the words of the tradition is suicide to accompany his lord.

To escape you must change your last name to Maki to Mogi, because that could be recognized as someone who fought against the shōgunato. In 1630 Mogi Shige is set in Noda,in the current prefecture of Chiba, to the north of the country’s capital, Edo, and it is there where she and her son are dedicated to growing rice and for the winter they made soy sauce. Noda was known since then by the great production of soy sauce that they were doing because in all the surrounding area grew a lot of soybeans and wheat, which were irrigated by rivers of great quality, and it is precisely these three elements, along with the salt, which are used to make soy sauce.

At that time Edo had an exponential growth, which caused demand for all kinds of products, among them soy sauce, which has benefited the producers of Noda who had the ability to carry enormous cargoes on barges. Along with this internal growth, the soy sauce comes to Europe due to the Dutch trading, being accessible only to royalty and the elite.

The family Mogi grew with the passing of years and was divided into six branches, all of them always dedicated to the production of soy sauce in Noda. Like the family Mogi, were two more Horikiri and the Takanshi, who is also engaged in the production of soy sauce.

The brand name Kikkoman was born in 1838 when one of the families Mogi makes the log pair your soy sauce before the shōgunato, as required by the law at that time. With the registered brand gives beginning to a campaign of marketing and advertising some of their actions was to sponsor the sumo wrestlers and during the meetings regaled products as farolitos, parasols, etc., with the name of your brand and logo.

In the year 1917 the families Mogi, Horikiri, and Takanashi, decide to join forces in a single company to which you will put the name of the Noda Shoyu Company (shōyu is “soy sauce” in japanese) but retain the name of the brand like Kikkoman. As part of the main actions was the investment in technology that would reduce the time in the process of making the sauce, while always respecting the natural fermentation process and not like other companies that use chemicals for its production. The expansion isn’t expected and the company starts exports to places such as Asia, where with time and due to the needs of the same market, opened a factory in China and another in Korea. Will continue to Hawaii and California where there were (and still exists) a large population of japanese and asians in general. After the 2nd World War begins the export to the united States, many soldiers had known being in Asia during the war.

The bottle today is an identity and distinctiveness of the brand Kikkoman was born in 1961 and was designed by a mechanical engineer and buddhist priest. With the time they have tried to renew their design, but it always wins once again that even today it is the one that identifies us to the brand Kikkoman. For 1964 Noda Shoyu Company changes its name to Kikkoman Shoyu Company. In the 60’s rising sales in the united States that urges them to open a factory in that country, and par 1997 open one more in the town of Hoogezand-Sappemeer, in the Netherlands, the country with the only Japan could make trade during the era of Tokugawa, because you have to remember that it were the Dutch who brought the soy sauce back to Europe in the XVII century.

Because the traditions are very important to the company, still retained the plant in Noda where it is made the soy sauce in the same way that it was more than 300 years ago, and it is from that plant came from the soy sauce Kikkoman consumed by the imperial family of Japan. And of course that the company is still in the hands of the family Mogi, mr. Yuzaburo Mogi President and CEO of the Board of Directors of Kikkoman.

And now the name, although it is not as simple to be able to make accurate translations from japanese to English this is what the same mark tells us about it:

亀 – KI – “turtle” (associated with the meanings of “long life” and “luck”)

甲 – KŌ – “armor”, “shell” (associated with the meaning of “first class”)

Clasping both 亀甲 – KIKKŌ – “tortoise shell”, and also “hexagon”

万 – MAN – “the ten thousand” (associated with the meaning of “forever”)

Now let’s go joining parts. If we understand that to the japanese the turtles live 10 thousand years and are a symbol of fortune, success and a long life, it is clear that is what they wanted for their company. The hexagon may be the shell of a tortoise, and within the japanese kanji characters for the number 10 thousand, this symbolizes the tradition and innovation.

Although all the bottles of sauces Kikkoman carry the famous logo black, since 2008 there is also the logo in orange color, this is because it is a color that evokes the sun, it is warm and represent good health, youth and vitality, but in addition it is a color that stimulates the appetite.

A very important thing you should know is that there are on the market many salsa that say soy but they contain many chemical ingredients themselves that added aromas and artificial flavors that have nothing to do with the natural and free of preservatives that have the soy sauce original. As you can identify what are the characteristics of a good soy sauce: The first thing is that this should be made only with soy beans, wheat, water and salt, must not have, nor colorants, nor additives or any other ingredient in the recipe. Two, it must have been fermented naturally and this is seen in the container. Three, the soy sauce is not completely black, is a tone with amber and slightly transparent. Four its aromas are sweet and delicious, not strong or acidic. It is very easy, just read the label and be able to realize which is good.

Kikkoman believes in “The flavors that unite the people,” that is why the company is a developer devoted to international cultural exchanges, which means that the soy sauce Kikkoman always be alright with all kinds of cuisines, including mexican.