Source: KIKKOMAN - http://www.kikkoman.com/html/soyart/soy_evolution.html
Discovered in China more than 2,500 years ago, soy sauce is thought to be one of the world's oldest condiments. Over the centuries it has remained a cornerstone of many Asian cuisines. Today, it is increasingly known in the West as a flavoring and flavor-enhancing ingredient.
To prepare for winter, people of prehistoric Asia would preserve meat and fish by packing them in salt. The liquid by-products that leeched from the preserved meat were subsequently used as a base for savory broths and seasonings.
In the sixth century, Buddhism became widely practiced in both Japan and China. With the new religion came vegetarianism, which created the need for meatless seasoning. One early substitute consisted of a salty paste of fermented grains, the first known product to resemble modern soy sauce. While studying in China, a Japanese Zen priest came across this new seasoning. Upon returning to Japan, the priest began making his own version and introducing it to others. Over the years, the Japanese modified the ingredients and brewing techniques of soy sauce. One change was the addition of wheat in equal proportion to the soybeans. This produced a sauce with a more balanced flavor profile that enhanced food flavors without overpowering them.
Kikkoman began exporting soy sauce to the U.S. in the 1800s. In 1972, to meet the growing demand for naturally brewed soy sauce in the United States, Kikkoman opened its Walworth, Wisconsin, brewing plant in the heart of America's wheat and soybean country.
Today, Kikkoman Soy Sauce is the best-selling and most widely recognized brand name soy sauce in America, prized for its vast range of uses -- from flavor enhancer and sauce base, to marinade and table-top condiment.
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