The heart of soy sauce is moromi, a thick mash made from rice inoculated with the moldAspergillus orayzae mixed with water and salt. Like sourdough starter, moromi is a living food. Nurtured and tended over years, moromi gives each producer’s soy sauce its unique flavor and qualities.
Unlike mere equipment, moromi is the product of years of cultivation and cannot be easily replaced. As a result, it was a devastating sight for the family of Yagisawa Shoten when they watched their facilities - including their precious moromi - washed away by the tsunami in 2011. Yagisawa Shoten had over 200 years of history producing soy sauce, including nurturing their family’s special moromi.
Without the moromi that gave life to their soy sauce, Yagisawa Shoten did not know how they could recover. Yet even without any products or revenue, the company pledged to continue paying their employees their full salaries as long as they possibly could. They all believed the business, started in 1807, and its precious fungal cultures were lost forever. All except Michihiro Kono, 9th generation son of the founding family, who held out hope. Just then, a miracle occurred!
In a laboratory in the coastal city of Kamaishi, a researcher discovered Yagisawa Shoten’s special moromi unharmed and safe. The cultures had been in storage in the laboratory after Kono donated them for cancer related research. The laboratories had also been wiped out by the tsunami but the containers containing the cultures were found intact. It was only 8 pounds of moromi. However, the company saw a glimmer of hope. Using crowdfunding, Yagisawa Shoten financed the construction of a new factory.
Two years later, the soy sauce made from the rescued moromi was finally completed. The company named it “Miracle.” That "miracle" moromi forms the base of their products, including the Donburi Sauce featured in our May 2020 Obaachan's Kitchen Nourishing Essentials Care Package and the Yakiniku Sauce featured in our June 2020 Tohoku themed Nourishing Essentials Care Package.
The rescued moromi carrying the legacy of 200 years can continue to beat as the heart of Yagisawa Shoten.
Learn more at https://yagisawa-s.jp