Zhongba Handmade Light Soy Sauce (Naturally Brewed 1 Year)
COMING SOON: ETA LATE OCTOBER
Mala Market Exclusive
Finally, America will have a premium, naturally brewed Chinese soy sauce with no additives or preservatives! Sichuan's famed Zhongba Soy Sauce has been made continuously by one family since 1828 and is still made the traditional way, creating umami organically over a long fermentation period with zero need for added sugar, alcohol, caramel, msg, chemicals and preservatives. Additionally, this ultra-premium version is brewed in large earthenware crocks and hand-stirred daily for a year.
As many articles on the Internet will tell you, if you live in America you've probably never tasted real soy sauce, since supermarket soy sauces usually contain one or all of the above ingredients to make up for the fact that they are fermented for only a short period of time or, worse, created chemically over a few days.
Like all traditional Chinese soy sauce, Zhongba Soy Sauce is made from water, soybean, wheat, salt and time. But it does have a secret umami ingredient: mushroom. The mushroom is not infused into the finished sauce, like some "mushroom soy sauces," but is added at the beginning in small amounts as an integral part of the ferment. So the sauce does not taste like mushroom, per se, but just benefits from mushroom's natural glutamic acid.
This proprietary mix makes for a deep-red soy sauce with full body and mouthfeel and a compellingly complex flavor that is so much more than salty. We invite you to do a taste test with this soy sauce and any other you happen to have on hand to understand the true difference a long, natural brewing process and 200 years of experience make.
The photos here show the process of the handmade sauce 1) the yellow soybeans are boiled; 2) they are mixed with wheat (to jumpstart the fermentation), inoculated with mold cultures and moved to the incubation room; 3) the resulting soy mash is mixed with a salt brine and mushroom and sealed in an earthen crock to ferment for six months; 4) it is then uncovered, exposed to the sun and hand-stirred daily for the next 360 days; finally it is strained, and this first pressing is pasteurized and bottled.
Following tradition in Southern China and the U.S., Zhongba calls this a "light" soy sauce, as opposed to a "dark" soy sauce, which has added molasses. Light does not refer to calories, salt content or taste.
(While there are some very fine Japanese soy sauces being imported to the U.S., they are very different in production process, ingredients and ratios and are not recommended for Chinese cooking.)
The Zhongba factory is located in the town of Jiangyou ("Soy Sauce"), Sichuan, and is a China Time-Honored Brand, meaning it has painstakingly documented its long and esteemed history. It even has a large museum onsite, which is one of the only places besides The Mala Market that you can buy its small-batch, handmade soy sauce, since the company makes too little to distribute to supermarkets in China.
While pricier than we would like, there is good reason: It is a very large bottle (it’s really a bottle and a half); it includes a very high Trump tariff; and it's been attended to and stirred every single day for a year by an actual human!
If you become as enamored of it as we are, please spread the word so we can sell enough to get a smaller, custom bottling and also justify the faith that Zhongba has in us to represent this bit of Chinese intangible cultural heritage in the U.S.
Producer: Sichuan Qingxiangyuan Flavoring Co., Jiangyou, Sichuan
Ingredients: Water, soybean, wheat, salt, mushroom
Best by: September 2021
Size: 705ml (23.8 ounces)