When I was growing up in Korea, it was pretty common to see people making their own soy sauce including my mom, who used to have 3 barrels of soy sauce that lasted us about 10 years. I used to wonder why it took so long to make soy sauce but it lasts a lifetime once you make it.
Soy sauce can be created along with fermented soy bean paste, which is another by-product while making soy sauce.
Soy sauce has scientifically been proven to help prevent Cancer and other diseases(One of the Top 10 antioxidants on Earth today).
Now, Korean soy sauce is pretty much same as Japanese soy sauce or Chinese soy sauce as far as taste goes but if you make your own soy sauce, it will be much fresher and every barrel will have a unique taste you cannot buy at your grocery market.
Well, I have always been fond of how long it takes to make soy sauce, a long fermenting process that can be comparable to making fine red wine.
Anyways, here’s how you can make Korean style soy sauce, I’ve translated one of the HOWTO soy sauce pages to English:
1. Choose the Beans
You need to find the right beans from a good organic source and make sure they are all fresh and throw away any “bad” beans in the batch.
2. Soak and Saturate Beans
You need to soak the beans in water for about 12 hours.
3. Boil the Beans in How Water
Once the beans are well saturated, heat the water until it boils. Keep boiling the beans until they turn to a yellowish color. You should expect to boil around 3 hours and make sure the beans are so soft if you touch it, they will easily break into pieces.
4. Smash Beans
Once boiling is done and beans are soft, you can get rid of the hot water and put it in a big pot while it’s still hot. You can smash it now. Of course, all this helps if you use authentic Korean stoneware as shown in below pics:
(Step 2-4 in old style Korean cookware Image Credit)
5. Make a Shape
One they are all smashed up nicely, you can make a rectangular shape with it somewhat like this pic:
(Step 5-6 Image Credit)
6. Hang It!
Now you have them in rectangular pieces, you need to hang it somewhere where there’s a lot of sunlight. These rectangular pieces might get some fungus pieces, if that happens, try to let some wind cool to keep it drier. Fungus isn’t too big a problem, you can always cut that piece out when they dry.
Once the rectangular soy blocks are dry, put them in a box in the shade.
7. Making Soy Sauce
Once the rectangular soy blocks are completely dry (and clean off any fungus on the surface), put the blocks inside a big Stoneware jar (here’s an example of how big) and fill it with water and salt. Also put about 5 red Korean chilli peppers,
For the first few days, leave the jar lid open to sunlight.
8. Making Soy Bean Paste.
After 1-2 months, take the soy bean blocks out and and put it in another jar. (After 5 months or so, the soy bean blocks will become soy bean paste)
The leftover water now becomes soy sauce.
Usually, Koreans will start making soy sauce in the winter as fermentation is best during winter and will be ready to eat in Spring. You will probably do best to make soy sauce in your home if where you live has 4 seasons. But if you in sunny state California like me, you can always fake the fermentation in a Kimchee fridge. Of course, Kimchee is also best when fermented in such “cold” manner during snowing winters.
Well, there you have it, that’s how you make Korean soy sauce (sorta, my translation isn’t world’s top notch but you probably get a good idea now).
Now everytime you buy soy sauce, you will appreciate the efforts into making it. Better yet, try making your own!