We Got Our Hands On This Locally-Made Soy Sauce From Koji Fine Foods

We love our sushi, but how many of us actually think about the soy sauce we dip those California rolls into? 

by | Jan 21, 2021 | Food + Drink Feature

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Soy Sauce. It’s the secret ingredient. It adds that bit of umami kick to the blandest of dishes. We love it, and we consume it in large quantities. (So much so that a shortage of Ontario-based China Lily soy sauce in Northern BC warranted an article in the Economist.)

However, not all soy sauces are made equal. The offerings on grocery store shelves are a far cry from anything considered ‘craft.’

Enter Denver Mace, a mechanic-turned-koji producer. He recently released his first batch of artisanal Shoyu-style soy sauce made with all Canadian ingredients – the first and only of its kind in Canada. 

You may have guessed it by his name, but Mace is not Japanese. However, a few years back, a family member was undergoing chemotherapy and lost their sense of taste as a side effect. It turned out that soy sauce was the only thing they could taste, so Mace started to investigate and found that it was koji that created that umami flavour.

Koji is the fermented byproduct of cooked rice or soybeans. The mold that grows on the rice is then cultivated and used as the fermentation base for many food favourites like mirin, miso, sake, and, of course, soy sauce.

Through his research, Mace found that the soy sauces available locally are mass-produced, and many are knock offs of the real deal. Some use colouring, acids and flavouring to mimic authentic soy sauce, and most used subpar soybeans – often defatted soy protein, which is also used as animal feed.

A bottle of Koji Fine Foods Shoyu sauce surrounded by salmon sashimi and rice.

The Kanada Shoyu soy sauce is made with all Canadian ingredients. Photo credit | Abby Wiseman

At first, Mace produced a koji salt through his company, Koji Fine Foods. He did the rounds at farmer’s markets and developed a bit of a cult following, especially after launching his miso balls. He always had his heart set on producing soy sauce. After a couple of exploratory trips to Japan to learn from Koji makers who have mastered the process, Mace signed the lease on a Chilliwack facility and got to brewing his Kanada Shoyu.

Keeping it local, Mace uses Canadian ingredients, such as organic soybeans from Quebec, organic BC roasted cracked soft wheat berries, Vancouver Island sea salt and spring water from the Fraser Valley. After the sauce is brewed, he leaves it to ferment in Okanagan red wine barrels for 12 months. 

The result is a light tasting soy sauce, which is unassuming at first but lingers on the tongue delivering an umami quality to each bite. It’s definitely a departure from the packets of soy sauce synonymous with takeout sushi. 

Without a doubt, at $40 for 375mL, this is a premium product. However, for those who love soy sauce, it’s definitely worth exploring. 

Want to try Mace’s Kanada Shoyu? He only does direct to consumer, so head here to order.

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Excellent work. Well done you. Bravo.

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