Soy sauce is a flavorful Chinese condiment made from fermented soybeans and wheat. It originated in China and has been considered a staple condiment in many Asian countries.
Now, soy sauce is not just a staple in the East but is also widely used across the world, including in North America and Europe.
There has been a rising trend in using soy sauce due to how convenient and flavorful it is. Simply by adding a dash or a spoonful to a dish, soy sauce has the ability to improve the taste, consistency and flavour without the need to include other enhancing ingredients like garlic or onion, which helps to save on time as chopping work is not necessary.
However, soy sauce is high in sodium which means it should be used in moderation as nowadays, the taste preferences of the consumers are becoming experimental, and are looking for tasty and healthy sauces along with an extended shelf life.
The Inception of Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is one of the oldest condiments in the world. It is a salty liquid condiment that’s traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, wheat, salt, and other fermenting agents like mould or yeast.
Believed to have originated from China over 2,000 years ago, it was later introduced in Japan, which then kickstarted several different styles of soy sauce production.
Why it is so popular and how is it used
Commonly used to enhance the flavour of different food like tofu, sushi, and grilled fish, soy sauce is popular not only among Asian kitchens but can also be used as a condiment, to marinate meat, or season soups and stew to enrich the quality of the food products.
It is used to build depth of flavour and provides a pleasing brown colour and consistency to a dish. Soy sauce is often offered as a condiment for additional salt or for extra flavouring.
Soy sauce has an alarmingly high volume of sodium
Soy sauce is well-loved and well used due to the nature of its taste. But it does contain high levels of salt which arises from the process of the protein in soybeans and wheat breaking down.
Methods like diluting soy sauce with water to decrease its sodium level are quite common, as it helps to reduce the intensity of the sauce and helps with the option of a less sodium offering as high intakes of sodium are linked to increased blood pressure, especially in salt-sensitive people, and may contribute to the risk of heart disease and other diseases such as stomach cancer.
However, this is not a prevalent option as many diners believe that this might significantly alter the punch and umami profiles of soy sauce.
How are companies working to meet the demand for healthier sauces?
A Japanese soy sauce maker — Kikkoman released a low-salt version featuring soy peptide, a form of protein that is believed to help improve blood pressure levels, in an effort to match the demands of consumers whose preferences are catered toward healthier functional food.
Their product was initially targeted towards consumers in their 40s or older, however, it has attracted a wider range of consumers than expected, including healthy-conscious younger people.
Can we expect to see an increase in healthier alternatives for staples such as soy sauce?
Increasing demand for soy sauce among consumers is a key factor that drives the growth of the market, given that soy sauce is an essential item, not limited to Asian households due to its usage in food products.
Food companies are urged to keep responding to the ever-changing needs to meet consumer demands. The global wellness market is estimated to be more than $1.5 trillion, with annual growth of 5 to 10 per cent.
A rise in both consumer interest and purchasing power presents tremendous opportunities for companies, which are working towards experimenting or producing healthier products that will cater to the health-conscious market.