Specialty soy: Singapore’s Nanyang Sauce offers world’s first customisable soy sauce products

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

People who use its bespoke service include its existing customers such as businessmen, home chefs, and professional chefs, who bottle it for their own use, for friends, family and clients. ©Nanyang Sauce
People who use its bespoke service include its existing customers such as businessmen, home chefs, and professional chefs, who bottle it for their own use, for friends, family and clients. ©Nanyang Sauce

Related tags: Singapore, Soy sauce, customisation

Singapore-based sauce and condiment manufacturer Nanyang Sauce has created a bespoke vat service for soy sauce, the first of its kind in the world.

Operating for more than six decades, Nanyang Sauce has always produced soy sauce the traditional, artisanal and natural way, which is fermenting soya beans in vats under the sun for about nine months.

The commercial and quicker way of manufacturing soy sauce is by the addition of hydrochloric acid and vegetable protein, which accelerates the process to between one day to two weeks.

Ken Koh, director at Nanyang Sauce, said its method creates an umami taste and rich aroma which is entirely made by nature. It uses non-GMO soya beans with wheat flour and aspergillus mould.

I see ourselves as craftsmen and farmers, rather than a factory industrialist​.”

Because it was already producing soy sauce in batches, the company decided to launch a bespoke soy sauce service.

According to Koh, soy sauce are typically brewed according to the preferred taste of the founder or sauce master.

However, taste is very individual. Some people prefer a little sweeter, or less salty​.”

So Nanyang Sauce launched its latest service to tailor soy sauce to customers taste needs.

Each vat holds about 100 litres, and customers can customise dark or light soy sauce, according to the five basic tastes, sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami, as well as the origin of any particular ingredient.

(Without disclosing too much), we had customers request water from a certain source or salt from a certain country. Our brewing process remains the same​.”

People who use its bespoke service include its existing customers such as businessmen, home chefs, and professional chefs, who bottle it for their own use, for friends, family and clients.

The first products are expected to release later this year, owing to the nine months fermentation period.

Because Nanyang Sauce uses a natural fermentation process, external influences such as the environment may affect the process. “During the monsoon period, the fermentation time may take longer than nine months​,” added Koh.

The firm has had received interest for its bespoke service from South East Asia, Hong Kong and Japan.

People have done [customisation] for alcohol such as whiskey by the barrel, but this is the first time people can now buy customised soy sauce​.

It’s also owning a piece of Singapore's heritage, because our craft is vanishing​.”

Constant innovation

Nanyang Sauce operates a boutique store in Singapore, selling its soy sauce, sweet sauce, sesame oil, black vinegar, as well as a range of chilli sauces, salted beans, kaya and even noodles.

Nanyang Sauce

It terms of NPD, Koh told us the firm was currently working on a gluten free product: “People are increasingly looking for products that are wheat free, so we had to reformulate our recipe to replace wheat flour which is typically used, and explore other substitutes while ensuring taste is maintained​.”

It also has two other projects in the pipeline, a soy sauce ice cream and soy sauce cake. Soy sauce can bring an umami taste and stronger fragrance in these products according to Koh.

Nanyang Sauce also runs workshops ranging from sauce appreciation to sauce profiling, which are similar to those in the wine, tea and whiskey industries. 

These workshops help educate and engage consumers, and while the process is slow and tedious, it helps to preserve a traditional food heritage.

Pandemic impact

During the earlier days of the pandemic, its B2B business to restaurants, coffee shops and hawkers was severely affected.

However, sales on its online store and via e-commerce increased as more people cooked at home.

During the circuit breaker period in Singapore, sales of its D2C business grew double digit month-on- month.

Nanyang Sauce imports its ingredients from various region, such as non-GMO soya beans from Canada and salt from Australia.

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