Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japanese giant wants soy sauce to become the ‘ketchup of India’



Japanese giant wants soy sauce to become the ‘ketchup of India’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A chef garnishes an egg over Keema – minced lamb meat with Kikkoman Soy Sauce – at the Ishaara restaurant in Mumbai. AFP

Japanese giant wants soy sauce to become the ‘ketchup of India’

Every dish tastes better with a dash of soy sauce, even dessert: that’s the ambitious pitch of Japanese food giant Kikkoman, hoping to persuade Indians to use it in curries, sweets and everything in between.

Convincing 1.3 billion people to add a staple of East Asian cuisine to their butter chicken and samosas is no cakewalk but it will likely be easier than the brand’s 1960s push into the US.

“When we entered the US, people thought we were selling bug juice because of its dark colour,” Harry Hakuei Kosato, Kikkoman’s India representative, said.

Today the brand’s funnel-shaped dispenser is a ubiquitous presence in US households, accounting for half of the firm’s $4.4 billion revenues, and Kikkoman now hopes to replicate that success in India.

Sales were boosted by the West’s growing craze for Japanese cuisine since the 1980s, but the company is taking a different approach to India, which is home to a significant vegetarian population.

“It is not about getting everyone to eat sushi. We want our soy sauce to become the ketchup of India,” said Kosato.

He hopes that the move to market the sauce as an endlessly adaptable condiment will strike a chord in a country where culinary innovation is part of street food culture.

For instance, Mumbai’s grilled Bombay Sandwich – a hawker staple – is a buttered British-style toastie, but with a filling that includes boiled potato, onion, tomato, beetroot, and coriander chutney, topped with a sprinkling of “sev”, a crunchy deep-fried Indian snack.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that some Indian chefs began using soy sauce in their dishes long before Kikkoman launched in the country earlier this year.

‘Chef’s secret’

Restaurateur Prashant Issar first deployed it in a biryani six years ago, while running Mirchi and Mime, a Mumbai restaurant showcasing modern Indian cuisine.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Some Indian chefs began using soy sauce in their dishes long before Kikkoman launched in the country earlier this year. AFP

Since then he has added a dash of soy sauce to a range of local dishes, from samosas to lamb keema.

“When I tried it with keema pao, it was just like ‘oh my god’. It was an explosion of flavours,” Issar said.

“It has this indefinable umami flavour, this tart, sharp quality you can’t find anywhere else,” he explained, describing it as “a bit of a chef’s secret”.

Kikkoman is now trying to get the word out to ordinary Indians and counting on social media influencers like Shalini Kapoor to drum up an appetite for its product.

For Kapoor, a home chef who never liked the “synthetic” taste of locally-available soy sauces and couldn’t imagine using the condiment in Indian food, the results have been revelatory.

She has even used it to make jalebis – a deep-fried pretzel soaked in sugar syrup.

“I think it’s amazing in Indian desserts,” she said.

But it might take the rest of India more time to catch up to the idea, she acknowledged.

“They just need to get a taste of it.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The