It has been several years now that I converted to low-sodium soy sauce. Not for health reasons but for the simple fact that regular soy sauce seemed much too salty. The brand that I’ve settled on is Kikkoman’s Milder Soy Sauce, made in Japan. Kikkoman’s Less Sodium Soy Sauce, made in Wisconsin, is not nearly as good, lacking the former’s depth and fermented flavor. The “milder” sauce may not be readily available in the U.S., though not impossible to find. I buy mine at Uwajimaya, the Japanese/Asian supermarket in the Seattle area.
After reading about Yamaki Jozo‘s aged, organic and unpasteurized (nama) soy sauce (shoyu) in Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s Japanese Farm Food, I purchased a small bottle at Uwajimaya out of curiosity. The soy sauce is marketed in the U.S. under the Ohsawa label and is also available online here. At $12 for a 10-oz bottle, it isn’t inexpensive by any means, but as Hachisu remarked in her book, soy sauce is normally used in small quantities in cooking, so using a high-quality one is worth the expense.
I immediately did a taste test between the Kikkoman Milder and the Yamaki Jozo. The former is decidedly sweeter, bolder, strongly fermented and caramel-y with a short finish. The Jozo is saltier (though not nearly as briny as regular soy sauce), lighter, smoother, and refined with cedar notes. Kikkoman’s seemed harsh in comparison to Yamaki, though I never would have said so before. It may take me a while to get used to saltier soy sauce again, but I can appreciate Yamaki Jozo’s qualities, especially its most remarkable one—umami that lingers literally for minutes on the back of the tongue.