Soy sauce is a staple ingredient in many Asian cuisines, adding a savory and salty flavor to dishes. But have you ever wondered what happens when soy sauce is heated? Does it boil like water, or does it have a different boiling point?
In this article, we’ll explore the science behind soy sauce and its boiling point. From the traditional fermentation process to the modern-day production methods, we’ll uncover the secrets of this dark brown liquid condiment.
So, let’s dive in and discover the boiling point of soy sauce!
What Is The Boiling Point Of Soy Sauce?
Soy sauce is a unique liquid that has a slightly higher boiling point than water. While water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, soy sauce boils at 214 degrees Fahrenheit. This may not seem like a significant difference, but it can affect the cooking process when using soy sauce in recipes.
The boiling point of soy sauce is determined by its composition. Soy sauce is made from a blend of soybeans and wheat, which are fermented with mold cultures such as Aspergillus oryzae and other related microorganisms and yeasts. During the fermentation process, the soybeans and wheat are broken down into simple sugars and amino acids, which give soy sauce its distinct flavor and color.
The fermentation process also creates ethanol, which can undergo secondary reactions to make other flavor compounds typical of soy sauce. These compounds contribute to the overall taste and aroma of soy sauce.
The Science Behind Soy Sauce
The primary flavor enhancer in soy sauce is monosodium glutamate (MSG), which imparts strong umami richness to foods dipped or cooked in soy sauce. Umami is the fifth category of taste that refers to the savory richness associated with beef, broths, and fermented foods. During the fermentation process, soy and wheat proteins are enzymatically hydrolyzed by the koji mold into simple amino acids. These proteins contain high levels of glutamic acid and glutamine residues, which are released and form MSG when mixed with salt.
The secondary fermentation process with lactic acid bacteria and yeast is responsible for the diversity of soy sauce flavors. Soy sauce can differ in its sweetness, acidity, saltiness, aromaticity, texture, thickness, and the intensity of caramelization. Some of the most potent aromatic and flavor compounds that have been found in soy sauces include 3-methylbutanal (malty), sotolone (maple syrup-like), 2-methylbutanal (caramel), methional (cooked potato), ethanol (alcoholic), lactic acid (acidic) and ethyl 2-methylpropanoate (fruity) with hundreds of more giving variations in flavors between soy sauce types and brands.
Soy sauce is made either by fermentation or by hydrolysis. Some commercial sauces have both fermented and chemical sauces. Flavor, color, and aroma developments during production are attributed to non-enzymatic Maillard browning. Variation is usually achieved as the result of different methods and durations of fermentation, different ratios of water, salt, and fermented soy, or through the addition of other ingredients.
Traditional soy sauce brewing involves four main ingredients: soybeans, wheat, salt and water. Fermentation is an important part of the process and the longer the soy sauce ferments, the deeper the resulting flavor becomes. Brewers can take months or even years to produce a batch of high-quality soy sauce.
At the start of the process, soybeans are steamed, and wheat is roasted then crushed before both are mashed together. This mixture is then inoculated with a specific strain of mold, usually Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae, to enable fermentation. At this point, it forms a mash called a koji. The koji is spread out on wooden trays and left to ferment rooms for 2-3 days, and it is during this period of fermentation that starches are broken down into simple sugars, proteins into amino acids, and oils into fatty acids.
One of these simpler molecules is glutamic acid, which is the amino acid found in Parmesan cheese and mushrooms that gives the soy sauce its umami flavor. The koji also has to be mixed frequently to release the heat produced during fermentation, as the surrounding temperature can greatly affect the entire batch of koji.
Next stage is the brine fermentation. Here salt and water are added to what was the koji, to make a mixture called moromi. A starter culture is also mixed into the moromi to introduce strains of lactic acid bacterium and yeast that will kickstart the second stage of fermentation. Long-established breweries will have cultivated their own strains of lactic acid bacterium and yeast that give the soy sauce they produce its own unique fragrance and flavor.
After months or years of fermenting, the final moromi becomes a thick gooey texture with the pungent, yeasty aroma typical of fermented foods. It is then time for refining the soy sauce by pressing layers of moromi in cloth-lined containers to extract the raw soy sauce from the solid mash. The raw soy sauce is then pasteurized by heating it to a high temperature before it is bottled and ready for consumption.
Traditional Vs. Modern Production Methods
There are two main methods used to produce soy sauce: traditional brewing and non-brewed chemical hydrolyzation. The traditional brewing method is a time-consuming process that takes up to six months to complete. It involves steaming soybeans and wheat, crushing and boiling them with water, and then adding koji mold cultures to the mixture. This mixture is then left to ferment for several months, during which time the enzymes in the koji break down the proteins and carbohydrates into amino acids and simple sugars. The resulting liquid is then pressed out and aged for several more months to develop its flavor.
On the other hand, non-brewed soy sauce is made by chemically hydrolyzing soy protein into amino acids using acid or enzymes. This method is much faster than traditional brewing and can be completed in just two days. However, the resulting sauce often has a harsh flavor and chemical aroma due to the use of chemicals in the production process.
While both methods can produce soy sauce, traditional brewing is generally considered to produce a higher quality product with a more complex flavor profile. The slow fermentation process allows for a more balanced flavor and aroma, while also preserving some of the health benefits of soybeans such as their high protein content.
What Is Boiling Point?
Boiling point is the temperature at which a liquid changes into its gaseous phase. This occurs when the vapor pressure of the liquid equals the pressure exerted by the surroundings. At boiling point, bubbles of vapor form within the liquid and rise to the surface. The boiling point of a liquid varies depending on the atmospheric pressure and the composition of the liquid. The normal boiling point is the temperature at which the vapor pressure of the liquid equals one atmosphere (760 torr). For soy sauce, this temperature is 214 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to note that boiling point can affect the cooking process, as it determines how long it takes for a liquid to evaporate and for flavors to concentrate.
Does Soy Sauce Boil Like Water?
While soy sauce does have a higher boiling point than water, it still boils like any other liquid. When heated, soy sauce will reach its boiling point at 214 degrees Fahrenheit and will begin to boil, just like water. However, it is important to note that soy sauce should not be boiled for too long as it can become powdery and bitter if overcooked.
When using soy sauce in cooking, it is important to consider its boiling point and not to overheat it. The subtle flavor of soy sauce can change to bitterness if it is burnt or overcooked. Therefore, it is recommended to add soy sauce towards the end of the cooking process or use it as a finishing condiment.
Factors That Affect Soy Sauce Boiling Point
Several factors can affect the boiling point of soy sauce. One of the primary factors is the concentration of salt in the sauce. Salt raises the boiling point of water, and since soy sauce contains a significant amount of salt, it also has a higher boiling point than water.
Another factor that affects the boiling point of soy sauce is its sugar content. Sugar can also raise the boiling point of water, and since soy sauce contains simple sugars from the fermentation process, it can contribute to a slightly higher boiling point.
The duration and method of fermentation can also affect the boiling point of soy sauce. Different methods and durations of fermentation can result in variations in the composition and concentration of compounds in soy sauce, which can affect its boiling point.
Additionally, the addition of other ingredients to soy sauce can also impact its boiling point. Commercial sauces may contain both fermented and chemical sauces, which can affect the overall composition and boiling point of the sauce.
Importance Of Knowing Soy Sauce Boiling Point In Cooking
Knowing the boiling point of soy sauce is important when cooking with it. If soy sauce is added to a dish that is already boiling, it can cause the liquid to boil over, resulting in a messy and potentially dangerous situation. It is best to add soy sauce to a dish that is not yet boiling, or to reduce the heat before adding the soy sauce.
Additionally, boiling soy sauce for too long can cause it to lose its flavor and become bitter. It is important to add soy sauce towards the end of the cooking process to ensure that its flavor is not lost.
When making homemade soy sauce, it is also important to boil the sauce to kill off any yeasts or molds that may be present. Failure to do so can result in a yeasty taste that can ruin the flavor of the sauce.