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Mold In Asian Food Is More Common Than You Might Think

Aug 18, 2007
Anyone who eats Asian food regularly probably knows that soy sauce has been around for at least a couple of thousand years and it is one of the most popular condiments in use today.

In ancient times, the people of Asia had to preserve meat and fish by packing them tightly in salt and the liquid that drained from the meat preserved like this was commonly used as a seasoning for other foods such as rice.

As Buddhism became more popular, the salty meat drippings that were used for seasonings had to be exchanged for vegetarian alternatives. One alternative was a salty paste of some fermented grains and this was an early version of soy sauce.

As improvements were made on the recipe in Japan and a woman there opened the first commercial soy sauce brewery in the world, soy sauce soon became even more popular in Asia and its use began to spread.

Today, soy sauce is made with mashed soybeans, salt, wheat, and finally, a fermenting agent which is usually the same one used to make sake in Japan, Aspergillus oryzae.

Aspergillus soyae can also be used. The mold used to ferment the soy sauce is a pretty important ingredient, as the soy sauce made with it is referred to as a true soy sauce.

Aspergillus oryzae is also used in the creation of Japanese rice wine, as mentioned earlier. Also called koji, it is one of the most important ingredients in the beverage.

The mold is used to ferment steamed rice that has been milled sometimes down to less than 50 percent of its original mass in order to remove the amino acids, proteins, and fats that can really give the beverage a smell or flavor that is not as pleasant as it could be.

The cultivation of this mold is taken extremely seriously by sake brewers, since the mold is sensitive and can absorb the flavor and smell of the things around it, such as the smell of the wood a new brewing room might be constructed out of.

If constructed of cedar, the sake may very well take on a faint cedar flavor after it is produced.

In contrast to wine, sake should be consumed as soon as possible after being bottled. Some aged sakes are quite good, but the general opinion is to drink it as soon as you buy it. Therefore elimination the chance that you may be risking your health
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