Since starting Steamy Kitchen, I’ve been making it a point to learn about the people behind the products that I feed my family. Not only is the quality of the product important, but the integrity and goodness of the team is, too. Kikkoman asked me to watch this documentary called Make Haste Slowly: The Kikkoman Creed, which was directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker. The 24-minute documentary tells the story of Kikkoman’s rich heritage and the family creed that has shaped the company for over 300 years. At first I didn’t quite know what to expect from this film, but I was so surprised and interested in all the rich family and company history that they talked about. I want to give you a run-down of the interesting parts so that you might appreciate this company the way I do.
Kikkoman is a family-run company started by a woman at a time when women didn’t start companies. It has been in business for 19 generations! The recipe for Kikkoman’s soy sauce has been handed down along with a family creed, which is a set of 16 guidelines.
Some Interesting Points from the Documentary
- Kikkoman built the first American manufacturing plant in the year 1973 — it was actually the first Japanese company ever in the US! It was interesting to hear about that time period and how worried people were about having Japanese people “move in” after World War II.
- Kikkoman decided on Wisconsin for the location of their first plant because of the hard-working labor that was found in that part of the country. The Americans said that they integrated well with their new Japanese neighbors by sharing their cultures with each other including sake and kimonos, tennis and all the bad words in their respective languages!
- I was amazed to hear about the risk they took by using so much capital to create this plant. It was really sink or swim for them at that time with this US plant!
- I loved hearing how they make their soy sauce — they naturally brew it using no chemicals in a fermentation process that takes 6 months! They’ll test and test to ensure the quality of the soy sauce. “It’s like checking the health of your children; if you don’t take care of them, then they will grow up poorly.”
- The process is involved and lengthy, which is where the “Make Haste Slowly” phrase comes from.
- I liked seeing these tasting plates that have to note the color of the finished product, which should be reddish brown, and when the circles on the plates appear purple through the sauce, then it’s the right color.
- The soy sauce is said to have all five tastes of salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami (sort of like savory) and the deep aroma of the soy sauce takes it to a whole other level!
- My favorite part of this was when a woman from the laboratory was describing the flavor of Kikkoman soy sauce. She said something to the effect of: Naturally brewed soy sauce has over 300 elements that produce its unique flavor and aroma. Chemically manufactured soy sauce has very few aromas and is very flat. In this way, great soy sauce, like Kikkoman, can be compared to a fine wine. The more complex the flavor, the higher the quality.
- Then she said, “Soy sauce goes so well with so many foods because the natural flavors and aromas are similar to those in other foods. And then she said that soy sauce goes great with ice cream” because of this! Wow, I’m interested to see if that’s true for my own tastebuds!
- There is a special house for making soy sauce for the Emperor, and the Imperial Household Agency picked Kikkoman as the producer — what an honor!
- There was a profile of an industrial designer who designed the first small bottles of the sauce. He remembers seeing his mother struggle with the heavy old bottles that everyone used to keep under the sinks in Japan. So he made them smaller, hand-held and in the shape of a water droplet, so it doesn’t drip when you pour it. Functionality at its best!
- Soybeans and wheat don’t have any taste when you put them in water. It seems mystical that it takes on such a deep aroma. Before we understood the scientific properties behind fermentation, it was believed that spirits did the work to create this sauce.
- My other favorite part was when they described the sustainability of the soy sauce industry. They explained that it is a very environmentally friendly process for the environment. The only things left are soy cake (used as animal feed) and soy oil, which is used to lubricate the machines! “Our company has been in business for hundreds of years. The reason we’ve survived so long is that we wanted to prosper along with society.”
Truly inspirational! And now about the best part — Kikkoman and Steamy Kitchen are pairing up to offer a Sweepstakes to win a $1000 Visa gift card to be used towards cooking classes!! Just answer the following question: If you were going to pass down a heritage family recipe, what would it be?
Kikkoman Sweepstakes Rules:
This sweepstakes is sponsored by Kikkoman and BlogHer. This isn’t like the normal sweepstakes that I run, so please read through these guidelines. No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
- Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post.
- Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post.
- Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post.
- For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to respond; otherwise, a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 1/7/2013 – 2/28/2013.
Be sure to visit the Kikkoman’s brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win! You can also visit Kikkoman to see the documentary and products that they have in store for you!