Cultured Soy Products

Miso, Tempeh, Doenjang, Soy Sauce with probiotic benefits

We’re keen on keeping healthy nowadays and studies have shown that probiotics are an essential, natural form of defence for our bodies. With more than 400 types of bacteria in the digestive tract, we need to ensure there is a balance of good and bad bacteria. This is all part of creating a healthy balance of microflora in our stomachs. Being opposite to antibiotics, probiotics can help restore normal activity in your system that is sometimes caused by a prolonged use of antibiotics or even poor diet.
One other huge plus for these friendly bacteria is that they are easy to make yourself at home, as well as getting them in a pre-packaged form in the shops.  We’ve seen that fermenting is an easy way of making foods high in probiotics at home.  Apart from fermenting vegetables like cabbage, carrots and cucumbers, you can also ferment various bean pastes.  Soy beans are especially suitable for fermentation and creating probiotics as they are rich in amino acids that aid digestion. Some examples using soy beans are described below:

Miso
This is a type of Japanese seasoning; a thick paste made from fermenting rice, soy beans, barley, and kōjikin (a fungus commonly used in sake and soy sauce).  Soy sauce is also commonly used in the making of miso.  Some miso are even made from chickpeas, corn and the ever popular quinoa.  As a seasoning, it’s used in soups, sauces, spreads and in pickling meats and some vegetables.  You can also have miso soup, which is eaten regularly by many Japanese with rice.  It is quite a salty seasoning but is rich in minerals and vitamins, as well as being high in proteins.

There can be quite a variation in the type of miso you buy.  It depends on quite a few things, from the ingredients used to how the miso is fermented.  As such there isn’t a standard recipe for it, so it’s best to get it from the shops.  You will find there are quite a few varieties of miso to choose from.  Which one you choose depends on what you want to use it for.  Sweet white miso is most commonly used in making miso soup and to marinate meat.  This particular miso is only fermented for two to eight weeks rather than a few years as with other forms of miso.  This makes its taste, colour and texture sweeter and lighter. One key advise for using miso is to use it without cooking, i.e., at the end of your cooking.  Cooking miso means it loses most of its nutrients.

Tempeh
This is the Indonesian form of the fermented soybean paste seasoning.  Tempeh resembles tofu in that it is in the form of a soybean cake.   However, the main difference is that it is a whole soybean produce, with a firm texture and strong flavour, sometimes described as a nutty mushroom flavour.  It is also rich in vitamins and minerals, and has a high protein and fibre content.  Many vegetarians around the world use it as a meat substitute.
To make your Tempeh at home, just follow this simple recipe:

  • Ingredients: dehulled soybeans, and tempeh starter 
  • Soak the soybeans overnight
  • Cook/boil for 30 minutes
  • above other spores created in the fermentation process
  • Mix in the tempeh starter
  • Spread the beans into a thin layer and then leave to ferment for another 24 to 48 hours.

The ideal temperature for the fermentation process in tempeh is 30⁰C. Any higher or lower and you’ll just have other spores appear in the tempeh, which are not harmful.

The tempeh starter is a specially made fermentation starter that helps push the fermentation process along.  Western tempeh starts contains spores of Rhizopus oligosporus or Rgizopus oryzae.  In the typical Indonesian tempeh starter, you would actually have inoculated soybeans placed between hibiscus leaves and left in the sun for a few days.  The soybeans are then covered with a black mold.  This process would not work in the cool Western climate, hence the use of bacterial cultures in the Western tempeh.

Doenjang
Translates as ‘thick paste’ in Korean and that’s exactly what it is.  This Korean dish is also made with whole soybeans.  It is said to be effective in preventing cancer.  It is also known to boost the activities of the large intestine, and relive constipation and diarrhoea.  Doenjeng is even said to provide antidote effect for snake venom and bee stings.

Doenjang takes a long time to make (one to three months).  So it’s probably best to get it ready-made from your local Korean or Chinese store.  It is made from whole fermented soybeans mixed with brine.  It can also be made from a mix of soybeans, barley, wheat and rice which are all mixed with salt and a fermentation starter.

Soy Sauce
Now you can’t discuss fermenting soybeans without mentioning soy sauce.  The most popular of these sauces, soy sauce can be found in many kitchen cupboards around the world.  It is made with soybeans, a fermentation starter containing Aspergillus oryzae and Aspergillus soyae molds, salt, water, grain and/or yeast.  Originally from China, it spread to many parts of South and Southeast Asia.
Soy sauces from different cultures are very different in taste, fragrance and even saltiness.  The Chinese soy sauce has been scientifically shown to have 10 times more antioxidants than red wine, and so can help reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases.  It is also rich in lactic acids (produced by the probiotics in the sauce) which have great anti-allergic potential.

A word of caution here:  In 2001, the British Food Standards Agency has discovered some brands of soy sauce sold in the UK (mostly imported) have potential cancer-causing chemicals in them.  Also in 2001, health agencies warned the Vietnamese of the presence of cancer-causing chemicals in soy sauces produced there.  This was also the case in 2008 in Australia.  The source of these chemicals is not known but people are being advised to avoid certain brands of soy sauces that have been found to contain the chemicals – Golden Mountain, King Imperial, Pearl River Bridge, Jammy Chai, Lee Kum Kee, Golden Mark, Kimlan, Golden Swan, Sinsin and Tung Chun.

About Brooke

After spending half my adult life reading and researching about probiotics and how it effects your gut and overall health, I thought It was about time to try and help others that have had gut issues like mine. I’m a doctor, just a long time researcher that has learned a lot thru my journey, and I’m here to try and help you!

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About Author

Brooke

After spending half my adult life reading and researching about probiotics and how it effects your gut and overall health, I thought It was about time to try and help others that have had gut issues like mine. I’m a doctor, just a long time researcher that has learned a lot thru my journey, and I’m here to try and help you!

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