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Tamari, also sometimes referred to as fermented tamari, is a Japanese soy sauce made with more soybean than the regular sauce. This makes the sauce smoother and more balanced. The flavor of the sauce is complex and generally pleasant. The sauce is dark and rich and made by adding some wheat to the soybeans. The sauce is locally known as misco-damari and is an important ingredient in many Japanese dishes.

Over the years, the use of the sauce has spread to other cuisines and today, it is not limited to Japanese preparations along. However, the sauce still finds most of its use in the cuisine of Japan.

Fermented Tamari: History

The history of tamari can be traced back to the 7th century when Buddhist monks brought the sauce to Japan from China where it was supposedly invented. The sauce quickly became a favorite of the locals and was used in a range of preparations. For many years after that, the sauce was essentially a household production. Its popularity, however, quickly grew and there was a sharp growth in demand as well.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the manufacturing of the sauce grew from a household art to a more commercial industry. To begin with, tamari was much like regular soy sauce, but to meet the growing demand, the whole soybean mixture was replaced with a mixture made from half wheat and half soybean. The new liquid required somewhat different treatment and after fermentation, the sauce became smoother than soy sauce and it was more flavored. This encouraged the production of a sauce made from what and soybeans.

Today, there are various varieties of tamari used in preparation in Japan as well as other Asian nations. The sauce is also popular in the West and has found its way into American and European cuisines as well.

Fermented Tamari: Preparation Overview

To make tamari, the soybeans are first boiled in water and then an equal amount of the boiled soybeans and roasted wheat are mixed. Some spore of the mold is added and the mixture is kept aside. After a few days, it is stirred again and after this, there is enough amount of mold. A saline solution is put into the mold culture and there is more fermentation involved. After a period of fermentation, the molds are folded in a nylon cloth and squeezed. The liquid obtained is heated and filtered. The sauce is then poured into containers.

When made at home, the soy sauce is prepared by hand and in smaller quantities. In commercial establishments, however, the production is large-scale and it is taken care of by the machines.

Some varieties of the sauce are completely wheat free, while others have very little wheat. There are different substitutes used in place of wheat and these depend on tastes and preferences.

Culinary Uses of Fermented Tamari

Tamari is used in a wide range of preparations, particularly in Japan. It is often called the "original" Japanese soy sauce and most of the traditional recipes call for its use. Due to its mellow taste, the sauce can be used in almost all recipes which call for the use of soy sauce. It is often used in salads, snacks and other savory preparations served that are served as an appetizer or main course.

The rich flavor and dark color of the sauce make it a perfect agent for dressings and marinades. Dumplings, fillets, crab-cakes, onion tarts, chicken and meat pies and steaks are some of the popular dishes which require the use of the sauce.

Buying and Storing Fermented Tamari

Tamari can be purchased online as well as off the shelves of general stores which sell groceries. Generally, the sauce is sold in glass bottles which are sealed. There are a few stores which sell it in bulk containers. Before buying the sauce, check the label properly to ensure that there are no additives in it, like MSG. Also, it is important to make sure that the product is genuine and manufactured by a reputed company. It is, therefore, always best to buy either directly from the manufacturer or through a certified seller only.

While the unopened bottle can be stored easily in a cool and dark place for several days, once the bottle has been opened, the sauce should be stored in the refrigerator. It is always better to keep it covered.

Fermented Tamari: Trivia

  • For people who suffer from wheat allergies, manufacturers produce a variety of the sauce which is completely wheat-free.
  • Japan is the largest producer of tamari.