Same for many soy sauces sold in U.S. grocery stores: fake, or with only traces of soy bean extract.
Genuine soy sauce is based on an ancient Japanese process of brewing wheat, soybeans, and a certain mold, then allowing the culture to ferment for months before refining and bottling.
The Japanese government has long been incensed by proliferation of imitation soy sauces, particularly by U.S. corporations. Japan has unsuccessfully pushed the United Nations food standards program to set an official international standard for soy sauce... a move that would mandate all imitations to be labeled as fakes, or as something else.
Fake soy sauces take only three days to manufacture, as opposed to three months of brewing and maturing, and, of course, are concocted from far cheaper ingredients which typically include:
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (in lieu of soybeans)
- Corn syrup or another cheap sugar
- Chemical "flavor enhancers"
- Artificial coloring
"... produced by boiling cereals or legumes, such as soy, corn, or wheat, in hydrochloric acid and then neutralizing the solution with sodium hydroxide. The acid hydrolyzes, or breaks down, the protein in vegetables into their component amino acids. The resulting dark coloured liquid contains, among other amino acids, glutamic acid, which imparts an umami flavor...
"Because of the high levels of glutamate in hydrolyzed vegetable protein, people sensitive to MSG should avoid hydrolyzed vegetable protein." (Source - Wikipedia)In rare, and horrifying, instances, Chinese workshops use human hair as a source for soy sauce proteins.
"China Central Television (CCTV), the state television station, first raised public worries over the quality of domestic soy sauce by uncovering a substandard workshop in central China's Hubei Province, where piles of waste human hair were found. The hairs were treated in special containers to distill amino acid, the most common substance contained in soybean sauce.
"Human hair is rich in protein content, just like soybean, wheat and bran, the conventional and legally accepted raw ingredients for the production of soy sauce." (Source - Boing Boing, May 26, 2004)So what's a Chinese takeout aficionado to do in 2013 ?
So what's a Chinese takeout aficionado to do in 2013 when hankering for soy sauce with his/her pork fried rice, fresh wontons, and scrumptious eggrolls?