Where Did Soy Sauce Come From?

Soy sauce is something we take for granted in most Asian-style restaurants. It’s an unassuming little condiment, not drawing much of the spotlight while you sprinkle it over your sushi at our Issaquah sushi restaurant. However, there is an ancient history behind this sauce that goes far, far back into the obscure reaches of ancient civilization.

Nobody knows for sure when soy sauce was first used as a condiment, though it is clear that it originated somewhere in ancient China. In times before reliable refrigeration practices, people needed to come up with ways to keep their food from perishing. To the Chinese, preserved food and the seasonings that went into their preservation (like salt) were given the name jiang. Jiang was made from meat, vegetables, seafood, and even grains. The jiang that came from grains was easy to make. Therefore, the fermentation of soybeans and wheat developed more quickly, eventually bringing about the soy sauce that we know today.