Akita’s Shottsuru, Ishikawa’s Ishiru, and Kagawa’s Ikanago Shoyu are some of the most famous fish sauces in Japan. Shottsuru was made by putting fish from the winter’s catch into a barrel, pickling it in salt, and slowly fermenting it, primarily in Oga and other fishing villages in Akita long ago. The liquid by itself is too pungent and salty, but heating it gives it a richness and sweetness that adds depth and flavor to many dishes. Before the diffusion of soy sauce into peasant households, almost all households were said to have made shottsuru, especially at fishermen’s residences. The Akita Shottsuru of Moroi Brewing Company is made using a very simple process: putting Hatahata and sun-dried salt into a barrel, setting a weight on it, then mixing it every so often to let air in. After 1 or 2 years, the Hatahata breaks down into a liquid. The longer the fermentation process, the richer and milder the taste becomes. The Jūnen Jukusen, a premium product among shottsuru, has an incredible 10-year fermentation span! This shottsuru, using 100% Hatahata, has become very rare and recent days and is the only shottsuru of its kind without any additives or preservatives. Regular shottsuru using other types of fish tend to be chock full of flavor, but also very pungent with a mixed taste and strong color. On the other hand, shottsuru made from Hatahata has a mild fragrance, elegant taste and a color like that of amber, completely reversing the negative image of shottsuru as being too pungently fragrant. Moroi Brewing Company’s efforts to reintroduce shottsuru has been highly evaluated; they were selected to be part of the Wonder 500 campaign hosted by Japan’s Environment Agency. In the fermentation process of making shottsuru, the proteins in the fish are broken down into amio acids. In the case of shottsuru, the amino acids hold a plethora of glutamine (umami essence) and alanine (sweetness), which hold the key to shottsuru’s deliciousness. Shottsuru is commonly used in hot pots, but can be used in a variety of other dishes as a form of “liquid salt”. We recommend drizzling some on a salad in place of salt. Other dishes that pair well with shottsuru are ramen, fried rice, soups, chawanmushi (savory steamed egg custard), and pasta. It’s sure to upgrade your dish into a more flavorful one. Please give this palatable and rich traditional fish sauce a try.
Last Update: 2019-10-11