What is Shoyu and why calling soy sauce “SHOYU” is wrong

Here is what really blew my mind. Did you know that Soy sauce and Shoyu are 2 different things?

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The other day I said “Shoyu” to some friends visiting from the mainland.

“What is shoyu?” 


I explained that it is what we call soy sauce in Hawai’i.

But it turns out I was wrong. Soy sauce and Shoyu aren’t even the same thing.

We grew up saying shoyu in Hawai’i. We use it A LOT. I even lived in Japan. But I am embarrassed to say, I didn’t know much about it. Not even what is in it. I just called any black sauce in a bottle SHOYU and dumped it on everything.

Soy sauce is actually one of the oldest condiments in the world ( 3 millennia worth of history). It is a by-product of fermented soybeans and wheat that have been mixed with brine, then packed with sea salt and koji, a type of mold.

But Soy sauce and Shoyu are 2 different things.

Soy Sauce is Chinese made with 100% soy, and “Shoyu” is Japanese  (wheat based) and slightly sweeter and thinner than Chinese sauces.

The traditional process can take months and years. OR just days using Chemical Hydrolysis. And here is a big difference in taste!

Fermented soy sauce, made using the traditional method, is said to have multiple health benefits because of the process it goes through when being made. It supposedly helps the digestive system, cardiovascular system and immune system. And it contains antioxidants that help the large intestine to produce good bacteria.

Honestly, they could have told me it was made from old engine oil and I don’t think it would matter to us. Shoyu is probably the most used condiment in Hawai’i followed by Chili Peppah Wata. IYKYK. 🙂





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