A video of the peaceful yet lengthy process of fermenting soybeans into soy sauce has gone viral on TikTok.
TikTok user @craftsman0011 has amassed over 144,000 followers from their videos of items being made from scratch, such as ink, chopsticks and rapeseed oil. Their videos sometimes have traditional Chinese or acoustic music in the background, but the naturally soothing sounds of the processes are usually most prominent.
Their most recent video on making soy sauce from scratch has garnered over 1.5 million views and 171,000 likes since being uploaded last week.
In the video, a man in rural China pours gallons of dried soybeans into a wooden barrel, letting the beans grow plump from soaking overnight in water from a well. He strains the soybeans in a wooden basket and steams them in a large wooden barrel on a massive wok over a wood-fired stove.
When the soybeans can be mashed between his fingertips with no resistance, he spreads the steaming beans on a flat wooden beaded tray for fermentation. He sprinkles a yellow powder called Aspergillus oryzae — a common fermentation microbe for soy sauce — over them.
Then, the man grinds up grain in a stone miller, mixing the powder with the soybeans.
He spreads the soybeans on a cheesecloth and lets them sit in a shed for a few days to ferment.
When the beans grow a textured, almost moldy surface, the man pulls them off the cheese cloth and throws them in hot water. The soybeans soak in the hot water for a few days until the mixture transforms from a mushy, chunky mud to a solid that is somewhere between clumpy dirt and espresso beans.
The hard beans are thrown into a pot of water with an interior strainer to finally extract the soy sauce. He strains the soy sauce through cheesecloth and then packages the liquid in ceramic jars.
The man in the video presents himself as a simple country man, wearing a plain tangzhuang. He uses natural outdoor lighting and shares his local green landscapes as his background. His tools and kitchenware emphasize a rustic ambiance, made from woven fibers, ceramics, stone or metal.
The video fits multiple days of hard work into its 3-minute, 45-second timespan.
Viewers on TikTok shared mixed reactions about learning the process behind one of the most used pantry staples.
One TikTok user commented, “Step 1 of making your own soy sauce… don’t even try.”
“I’m never using soy sauce again ever in my life,” another viewer said.
“Soy sauce is one of my most favorite things in the world, so I have so much more appreciation for this wonderful flavor now that I’ve seen the process,” another TikTok user exclaimed.
Featured Image via TikTok