Can’t live without you…

I was watching this Martha Stewart’s Youtube video on how to cook perfect eggs and I noticed how she ate all of them with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Of course, here, we will usually eat them with soy sauce, not salt, and pepper…

…and come to think of it, soy sauce is an integral part in Asian cuisine, Chinese especially and some people simply can’t live without it – they will dip everything in soy sauce (with or without sliced fresh chili) and eat.

We do have a lot of dishes in Chinese cooking where soy sauce is used to stir fry or stew or braise the meat or whatever. The Thais use fish sauce mostly and the Koreans and the Japanese have their own versions of the soy sauce, their teriyaki sauce, for instance. Soy sauce may be used in cooking some Malay and Indonesian dishes but not as much – the latter even have their own kicap manis, the thick sweet soy sauce. I can’t think of soy sauce in any Indian dish – as far as I kn0w, they use a lot of spices and in western cuisines, they have the Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce but I do not think they have soy sauce as we know it.

I remember we had some places making our own local soy sauce, black as well as light (chio cheng). You would see a whole lot of stone jars in the whole place, left to ferment in the sun. Most of them were covered but in some cases, the wooden lids might have slipped off, leaving the jars slightly open or maybe they did not on purpose, I wouldn’t know. People used to warn us not to go and have a look as we might find all kinds of things in the fermenting sauce, insects, lizards, rats – you name it, they had it! LOL!!!

I don’t think we bought those local ones for our own consumption at home. We had those made-in-China ones with a lot of gold coins on the label, probably the Narcissus brand until this mushroom soy…

…appeared on the scene and there has been no turning back since.

We liked it a whole lot more than the regular soy sauces – we thought it tasted nicer and it was not so salty. At that time, it was only 50 sen a bottle and I remember everytime we ran out, my mum would send me on my bicycle to the Sungai Bakong market (no longer there – demolished after it was burnt down in a fire) half a mile from our house at No. 96, Race Course Road to buy a bottle. These days, they are RM6.50 a bottle at one of my neighbourhood shops.

No, it is not made in Sibu. Don’t get the wrong idea from the brand – the Rejang River Bridge, named after the majestic Rejang River that flows past Sibu town, the longest in Malaysia. It is made in China and if I am not wrong, they import it in big drums and bottle it here…

…at their factory in Sungai Antu.

Usually, we would just buy one and use and buy again when it ran out but these days, with the pandemic and all of us #stayingsafe #stayingwell and #stayinghome, we would stock up on a few bottles at a time, just in case.