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San-J, Asian food
San-J Asian food, Shoyu San-J tamari, soy sauce San-J Asian salad dressing, miso San-J Asian food San-J Japanese salad dressing, Asian salad dressing San-J Japanese rice crackers, miso Asian food San-J

Tamari is one of Japan's oldest culinary secrets. Its roots go back to the original soy sauce, conceived in China and brought to Japan along with Buddhism in the 7th century A.D. It has been known since ancient times that cooked soybeans, exposed to certain microbiological cultures and aged in salt, will produce a tasty, dark red paste. The Japanese call the fermented paste "miso". Tamari, meaning "that which accumulates" was the name given to the protein-rich liquid that accumulates during the miso ripening process. It has become a highly prized seasoning.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the manufacturing of soy sauce developed from a household art to a commercial industry. In order to increase production, the thick fermented paste (miso) was replaced by a thinner fermented mash (moromi) that had a much higher ratio of brine to solids than miso. The solids content was later revised to half soybean, half wheat rather than all soybean resulting in the current day soy sauce or shoyu.

Tamari is a premium soy sauce which goes back to the original formula using primarily soybeans. The result is a smoother, richer, more complex sauce which is perfect as a flavor enhancer, marinade, stir-fry sauce or table condiment.

There are three main categories of soy sauce available in the United States:

  • Tamari - Naturally brewed, made with more soybeans than ordinary soy sauce
  • Shoyu - Naturally brewed, made from half soybeans and half wheat
  • Non-brewed - Made from hydrolyzed vegetable protein

When judging soy sauce, the characteristics you look for are aroma, appearance and most importantly taste.

  • Tamari - Tamari has a soft and rich aroma, very smooth flavor and a well-balanced taste.
  • Shoyu - Although modern brewed soy sauce has a balanced taste, it is sharper than Tamari due to the difference in raw materials and a stronger alcoholic fermentation.
  • Non-brewed - Non-brewed with its strong, unbalanced taste and salty aftertaste is completely unlike Tamari and modern brewed soy sauce.

There are distinct benefits of a Tamari soy sauce as opposed to a regular Shoyu or non-fermented soy sauce.

  • Tamari retains its full flavor after cooking. An ordinary soy sauce, because it is brewed with half wheat, contains more aromatic flavor notes in the form of alcohols and esters that flash off under high temperatures.
  • Tamari has 37% more protein than ordinary soy sauce. The complex combination of protein and amino acids gives Tamari unique flavor enhancing abilities. Tamari can be used instead of salt in prepared food without compromising taste.
  • Tamari has a noticeably smoother, less bitter taste than soy sauce brewed with half wheat, making it more versatile. Add Tamari to sauces, gravies and casseroles as well as stir-fry dishes. Also great as a marinade.


The San-J Brewing Process

1. Whole soybeans are soaked in water and cooked in large cylindrical steam cookers.
2. When making shoyu, cracked roasted whole wheat is added to the soybeans before forming nuggets.
3. The cooked beans are formed into nuggets and lightly dusted with "seed koji" (aspergillus oryzae).
4. The nuggets are placed in a temperature and humidity controlled incubation chamber ("muro").
5. During the 2 days in the muro, the nuggets develop fuzzy pale yellow mold.
6. The matured koji is put in fermenation tanks with salt and water.
7. The moromi ages for 5-6 months under careful monitoring.
8. The moromi is wrapped between layers of press cloth, stacked in a cage, and pressed to yield the raw tamari.
9. The raw tamari is then pasteurized and filtered to produce the finished product.
10. The sauce is bottled, cased, and sent to the market.