Soy Sauce as a spice? Naogen Soy Sauce introduces a new, dry version of a classic seasoning.
What sits at the center of your dinner table? Many families set out salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, and depending on your favorite cuisine, perhaps soy sauce. While soy sauce may feel familiar or common, we still have few options when shopping or dining out. In Japan there are strong regional preferences for fruit, rice, and yes, even soy sauce. One artisanal soy sauce maker, known for their historic and distinct flavor, is bringing an innovative, crystallized version to America, in an attempt to elevate your dining experience with a new and unique product.
This Crystallized Shoyu (Japanese for soy sauce, and pronounced “show you”) is the creation of the Naogen Soy Sauce Company. To understand the significance of this innovation, it may help to start at the beginning: Founded in 1825, the company has been producing traditional soy sauce for nearly 200 years in the village of Ono, an area in Ishikawa’s Kanazawa City, that is known throughout Japan for aromatic, and high-quality soy sauce. The new, solid flakes are made from a secret method that condenses 75 grams of liquid soy sauce into 20 dry grams. The crystallized shoyu contains no GMOs or artificial ingredients, and uses the same, naturally fermented Japanese marudaizu soy beans.
Just like the original, these flavor crystals can be used both as seasoning while cooking, and as a condiment while you eat. Unlike traditional soy sauce, typically only associated with asian food, Junichiro Naoe, CEO and eighth-generation owner of this family-run business, recommends thinking of crystallized shoyu as a new kind of spice, and more importantly, one that can be used as a substitute for table salt on any food. Before now, crystallized soy sauce existed only in the world of gastromolecular dining, carefully crafted for single dishes, by chefs on the cutting edge. Naogen wants the once rare, luxury item to be mainstream and readily accessible at home. Presenting his new product at a Japanese food trade show in America, he also stressed its health benefits, saying: “This crystallized shoyu contains roughly one-third the amount of sodium as table salt.”
At his company’s booth they prepared product demonstrations, passing out pieces of steak and asparagus that were both cooked and topped directly with the crystallized shoyu. Unlike salt which can easily overpower a dish, the crystals’ taste was surprisingly subtle, adding an umami flavor that enhanced each dish by drawing out the natural qualities of both meat and vegetable alike. They also handed out product promotion literature with enticing recipes for “Wild Salmon Salad” and an herbal compound butter recommended for broiled or roasted dishes.
Mr. Naoe envisions crystallized shoyu in every household, and used on everything. Other suggestions included adding it to eggs, avocados, or camembert cheese, as well as pizza, tofu with olive oil, and even ice cream! If you have ever enjoyed a scoop of salted caramel ice cream, the notion of adding soy sauce may not be as outlandish as it first sounds. Regardless of how you experiment, this product is undeniably attention-grabbing. Don’t miss out on your next chance to try what Naogen calls, “a delicious sparkly taste in every bite.”
Soy sauce crystals can be added directly to a dish to provide texture as well as flavor, or mixed to enhance other oils and dressings.
While new and innovative, the main ingredient is still locally sourced, traditionally prepared, and naturally fermented Japanese soy.
Moromi is slowly fermented for over a year before becoming soy sauce.
A souvenir shop at their “soy sauce brewery” in Kanazawa.
Naogen Soy Sauce Co., Ltd.
1-53 Ono, Kanazawa, Ishikawa