There are many premium soy sauces out there in the well-stocked Japanese markets, and having slowly gone through various brands, this bottle, which I just recently picked up, is hands down the best I've tasted so far.
It has an incredible roundness of flavor and a subdued, naturally balanced sweetness from the black bean (i.e.: not a sweetness that stands out and makes it sweet, but a sweetness that balances out the other components). If this makes any sense to you then you will know what I mean when I say that it has a pronounced, but quiet, flavor.
It is not cheap, however. I forget how much it was, but a small 200 ml bottle was perhaps around $15 or so. But considering how little one will use, a little goes a long way when used properly.
A koikuchi, just the smallest touch on sashimi of this incredile elixir does wonders. It's a 100% black bean soy sauce, hand made and fermented for 2 years by a 5th generation maker.
I found it at my local Nijiya Market in San Diego. (Not the bottle pictured, though identical in labelling... This picture was found at Rakuten's website...)
Some time after purchasing the Yuasa Ki-Ippon, I started getting a very subtle curiosity whether or not this may have been, by chance, the featured "himitsu" (secret) ingredient used in the ramen showdown on the Dotch Ryori (Cooking) Show. I remember as I checked my archives of the show that it would have been all but impossible that such a featured product (the show features some of the most rare ingredients available in Japan) would have even made it to our shores in such an available way as to be off-the-shelf at Nijiya Market.
Well as I played the episode back I was thoroughly taken aback to find that indeed it was this very brand and batch of shoyu! As good as I thought this shoyu was, I didn't think that there was much of a chance that this would be the very product that was so prominantly featured. Indeed this was the same product! It also pleased me to know that after trying many, many "special" shoyus, this was the only one that I found worth fussing over.
So here's a rare chance to both sample a unique and special artisan-made product, as well as to see and hear the story, the person, and his methods behind this incredible bottle. The bittorrent for this show can be found at this link: d-addicts.com/forum/viewtopic_42560.htm. . The show's in Japanese, but is fan-subbed in English.
Yuasa Ki-ippon Kuromame (湯浅 生一本黒豆) Shoyu
Tuesday, May 22, 2007