Hundreds of years ago when salt was a rare commodity, soya sauce was created to stretch the taste of salt as far as possible.

In Singapore, Ken Koh and his family use traditional methods to make natural “umami” soya sauce, with a flavour that’s both rich and savoury. First, soybeans, imported from Canada, are steamed for a few hours and coated with wheat flour to start the fermentation process. 

The fermenting flour and beans are placed in handmade clay vats with water and salt. And then comes the final ingredient — time.
 
For nine months, the vat contents are left to brew, stirred every day under the hot sun. The final result is a traditional sauce with distinct umami flavours.

A byproduct of the whole process is a naturally crystalized soy salt, which can take 10 years to accumulate in the vats — the very essence of umami flavour, according to Koh.

Watch the video above for the full story.

For more watch Pass the Salt on The Nature of Things.

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The Nature of Thingies