No.25, Yanping Rd., Xiluo Township, Yunlin County 648, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Yunlin Xiluo (雲林西螺) has more than three hundred years of history. It is said that the development of the township reached its high-point after the construction of Xiluo Bridge. Wanzhuang Soy Sauce Factory, which is located at the end of Yanping Street (延平老街) near the bridge, has more than one hundred years of history. Although records of cooking with soy sauce as early as 3000 years ago have been found in China, the brewing technique was only introduced in Taiwan after Koxinga conquered the island in the 17th century. The main ingredient used for brewing back then were black soy beans which created a product called ”Black Soybean Oil” (黑豆蔭油), the brewing technique of which is generally recognised as the “traditional method of brewing”. When Taiwan was under Japanese rule from 1895, a new brewing method which used machinery was introduced, and the ingredients were changed from black soybeans to yellow soybeans. Soy sauce created with this method is called “Japanese Soy Sauce”. Nowadays, more than 90 percent of soy sauce is made from yellow soybeans. No matter what kind of soy sauce, the most important part in the entire production process is to add yeast for fermenting and to keep the temperature between 25 to 30 degrees. Therefore, when temperatures are high in summer, the semifinished product needs to be cooled down by a light breeze. In winter, an insulation cover is required to keep it warm. After nearly six months, fermentation is finally completed. However, nowadays, because efficiency is highly emphasised, the natural fermentation process has been replaced by manufacturing plants. Chemical processing is adopted for shortening the time to one week, instead of waiting for fermentation to occur over six months. Because of this, today’s efficiently manufactured soy sauce lacks the fragrance that accompanied the traditional method, and has been replaced with a slightly artificial aroma. In addition to the production equipment easily noticeable outside the Wanzhuang Soy Sauce Factory, you can also see “earthen jars” (甕), necessary for outdoor fermentation. Bicycles, which were once used for shipping soy sauce and selling it on the street when logistics weren’t as convenient as they are today, are also well preserved there. Of course, the most interesting thing is that you can brew your own soy sauce! Even president Ma Ying-jeou has made his own soy sauce here. But if you don’t have enough time to do it yourself, and still want to try a healthy, natural soy sauce, you can bring a jar of Wanzhuang soy sauce home and use it to cook up a treat!