Soy sauce is a staple condiment in many cuisines around the world, but did you know that not all soy sauces are created equal?
In fact, there are dozens of different types of soy sauce, each with their own unique flavor and production process. One such variation is Peruvian soy sauce, which differs from traditional Asian soy sauces in several ways.
In this article, we’ll explore the differences between Peruvian soy sauce and its Asian counterparts, and how these distinctions affect the taste and use of this beloved condiment.
So grab a bottle of your favorite soy sauce and join us on this flavorful journey!
How Is Peruvian Soy Sauce Different From Asian Soy Sauce?
Peruvian soy sauce is likely to be Chinese-style, owing to the influence of Chinese cuisine in Peru. This means that it is lighter in color and flavor than traditional Japanese soy sauce, which is the most popular style in the US.
While Japanese soy sauce typically has four ingredients – water, wheat, soybeans, and salt – Peruvian soy sauce may contain additional ingredients such as sugar and hydrolyzed “seasoning sauce” (such as Maggi). These additions make Peruvian soy sauce less traditional than its Asian counterparts, but they also give it a unique flavor profile that is well-suited to Peruvian cuisine.
Another key difference between Peruvian and Asian soy sauces is the production process. While many Asian soy sauces are made through a natural fermentation process that can take several years, Peruvian soy sauce is often made using a faster method that involves hydrolyzed protein. This method allows for quicker production and a longer shelf life, but it also results in a less complex flavor profile than traditional fermented soy sauces.
What Is Soy Sauce And How Is It Made?
Soy sauce is a condiment made from fermented soybeans and wheat that have been mixed with brine. The manufacturing process of soy sauce originated in China over 2,500 years ago during the Western Han Dynasty. The process slowly spread across Asia and was adopted by various different culinary traditions, making it one of the oldest condiments in the world.
The manufacturing process of soy sauce involves inoculating a substrate of cooked soybeans, often mixed with roasted wheat, with Apergillus mold. After the mold colonizes the substrate, which takes about three days, the culture is combined with salt water and transferred to large vats where lactobacillus – a bacteria that breaks down sugars into lactic acid – is added. The resulting mixture ferments for a period of time, anywhere from six months to several years depending on the brand. Once fermented, the mixture is strained and the liquid is typically pasteurized, bottled, and sold.
Soy sauce adds a strong umami flavor to dishes and is commonly used in Asian cuisine. Japanese-style soy sauce is made from a 50-50 blend of soybeans and wheat, while white soy sauce strongly tips the balance in favor of more wheat. White soy sauce is sweeter and lighter than standard soy sauce and works well in dishes where soy sauce isn’t meant to be the most dominant flavor.
Peruvian soy sauce likely follows Chinese-style production methods and may contain additional ingredients such as sugar and hydrolyzed “seasoning sauce.” Peruvian soy sauce is often made using a faster method that involves hydrolyzed protein, resulting in a less complex flavor profile than traditional fermented soy sauces.
The History Of Soy Sauce In Peru
The roots of soy sauce can be traced back to ancient China, where it was known as “jan.” This sauce was originally made by pickling raw materials in salt to preserve them, and there were various types based on fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and grains. The grain type, which used rice, wheat, and soybeans, is thought to be the archetype of soy sauce.
It is not clear when soy sauce first came to Peru, but it is likely that it was introduced through the influence of Chinese cuisine. Between the 1850s and 1870s, there was an influx of Chinese laborers who were contracted to work on coastal plantations and in mines. These laborers brought ingredients like soy sauce and ginger, as well as cooking utensils like the wok.
Chinese-Peruvian cuisine, known as Chifa, developed as a result of this cultural exchange. Chifa dishes were made using classic East Asian ingredients like ginger, scallions, and soy sauce, as well as traditional Peruvian ingredients like pineapple, potatoes, and aji amarillo (a paste made from yellow chili peppers). One of the most iconic Chifa dishes is lomo saltado, a stir fry of beef sirloin strips and vegetables seasoned with soy sauce and served with both rice and fries.
Peruvian soy sauce likely evolved from Chinese-style soy sauce that was introduced during this time. While Peruvian soy sauce may not be as traditional as its Asian counterparts, it has become an integral part of Peruvian cuisine and is used in many Chifa dishes. Its unique flavor profile adds depth and complexity to Peruvian cuisine and is a testament to the cultural exchange that has shaped Peru’s culinary landscape.
How To Use Peruvian Soy Sauce In Cooking
Peruvian soy sauce can be used in a variety of dishes to add a unique flavor profile. It pairs particularly well with Peruvian-style roasted meats, stir-fries, and rice dishes. Here are some tips for using Peruvian soy sauce in your cooking:
1. Use it as a marinade: Mix Peruvian soy sauce with garlic, ginger, and other seasonings to create a flavorful marinade for meats such as chicken or beef.
2. Add it to stir-fries: Peruvian soy sauce adds a tangy, umami flavor to stir-fried vegetables and meats. Just be careful not to overdo it, as the sauce can be quite salty.
3. Use it in rice dishes: Peruvian soy sauce can be used to flavor rice dishes such as arroz chaufa (Peruvian-style fried rice) or arroz con pollo (chicken and rice).
4. Use it as a dipping sauce: Mix Peruvian soy sauce with lime juice and a touch of honey for a tasty dipping sauce for grilled meats or vegetables.
Where To Find Peruvian Soy Sauce And How To Incorporate It Into Your Pantry.
Peruvian soy sauce can be found in most major supermarkets and grocery stores, often in the international foods section. Look for brands such as Kari Kari or Peru Chef, which are popular in Peru.
When incorporating Peruvian soy sauce into your pantry, keep in mind that it may not be a perfect substitute for traditional Asian soy sauces in all recipes. However, it can add a unique flavor to dishes such as Peruvian-style stir-fries or ceviche. It can also be used as a marinade for meats or as a dipping sauce for empanadas or other savory snacks.