Where would our Bothell Japanese restaurant be without soy sauce? It’s a huge part of the Japanese culinary tradition, valuable not only as a condiment for many of our rice and sushi-based dishes, but also as an ingredient in teriyaki sauce and many other classics. But where did soy sauce come from, and how did it claim such an unshakeable hold throughout the Asian continent?
Soy sauce originated far back in the foggier reaches of ancient history. Though many details are unclear, we do know that the sauce was first invented somewhere in China. In the days before refrigeration, people had to come up with creative ways to preserve their food.
Among the ancient Chinese, food was preserved with salt and other seasonings. Preserved food and their seasonings were called jiang. They had meat jiang, seafood jiang, vegetable jiang, and even grain jiang. The grain-based jiang was simple and highly accessible, so the fermentation of soybeans and wheat developed rapidly. This eventually led to the soy sauce we know today.