AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

The world’s first whale soy sauce

Posted by ampontan on Friday, January 9, 2009

THE JAPANESE TAKE PRIDE in using as much of a whale as possible to eliminate waste when converting it to food products. One example is their creation of a canned paste of sorts made with whale cartilage and placed as a topping on rice in the same way natto beans are eaten.

whale-soy

Now Yamaka Shoyu, a soy sauce brewer in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi (the home port of the whaling fleet), the National Fisheries University in the same city, and a local council for promoting the development of new food products announced they have developed the world’s first soy sauce made using whale meat. The whale varieties used are the minke, caught during the government whaling expeditions in the South Pacific, and the sei whale. They’re not putting prime cuts into the sauce—the company uses scraps that were previously discarded by a local food company when processing the meat for market.

The product contains only the soybean and wheat base used to make soy sauce, salt, and whale meat. Those who have tried it say it isn’t as fishy tasting as other fish-based soy sauces and has strong umami characteristics. The ingredients are mixed, stirred daily for a month at a constant temperature, and then allowed to ferment for a month.

Yamaka plans to launch sales of the product in June in Yamaguchi in department stores and at retail outlets at tourist sites (in other words, they want to turn it into a “special local product”). There are also plans to sell it in Tokyo. One bottle will set you back 600 to 700 yen (US$ 6.50 to 7.60).

Does the whale soy sauce have potential or is it being made and sold for its novelty value? Koizumi Takeo, a professor at the Tokyo University of Agriculture noted for his adventuresome approach to food, has given it his imprimatur. “Not only is it delicious,” he said, “but it’s also good for you.”

Well, what more can you ask for? Just make sure to transfer it to a plain bottle or server when sensitive foreigners come to dinner!

3 Responses to “The world’s first whale soy sauce”

  1. Dilip said

    Those who have tried it say it isn’t as fishy tasting as other fish-based soy sauces

    Maybe because it’s not fish-based at all?

  2. JohnH said

    “Just make sure to transfer it to a plain bottle or server when sensitive foreigners come to dinner!”

    I lol’d.

  3. Mac said

    Dilip is right … whales are mammals.

    Surely beef stock would be cheap, just as “good” for you … and avoid the need for all those government funded industry factory ships using up unrenewable energy sources and pumping out greenhouse gases as they chug down to the Antarctic.

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