Soy beans are a critical food source in China. Declared one of the five sacred grains, soybeans have been used extensively in Chinese cooking for over 5,000 years, providing people with a healthy and inexpensive protein source.
Soy sauce is made from soybeans and dates back about 2000 years to the Zhou Dynasty. The original version was a salty paste but, over time, the product evolved into two separate items 1. liquid soy sauce 2. miso paste. Today soy sauce is made from soybeans that are mixed with roasted grains and fermented over several months. Once aged, the mixture is strained and bottled.
There are two varieties of soy sauce: Light and Dark. Dark soy sauce is aged longer and has a darker color and thicker texture. Light soy sauce is typically used for cooking and has a saltier flavor.
Soy sauce is ubiquitous in both China and Japan and is also widely used and accepted in the West.