The city of Hita in Oita Prefecture is rich in nature and is lauded as a “suigo” or riverside district. Soy sauce brewery Maruhara was established in this historical town over a century ago. It’s been attracting attention in recent years for the unique product development by its president Masayuki Hara.
One of these endeavors is the production of a new local specialty, a fish sauce made from Ayu sweetfish. A freshwater fish, Ayu is a rare delicacy in Japan. The fish sauce project came about when local fish farmers consulted Hara with ideas on how to make use of irregular Ayu fish. They conducted collaborative research with the prefecture and after 4 years of trial and error, Ayu Fish Sauce was born. Particular care was given to its taste and aroma, elements which are most essential to soy sauce. Set down and filtered for 4 months, the fish sauce is eliminated of unpleasant odor and develops a rich aroma.
It gradually garnered recognition in product trade fairs and received streams of orders from upscale restaurants in Tokyo. Hara has also concluded a contract with a three-star restaurant in France, in his strategic effort of market expansion. The Ayu Fish Sauce is highly esteemed by chef overseas for its compatibility with all kinds of dishes. Hara has also developed a new type of soy sauce based on it.
The program documents a time-honored soy sauce brewery as it takes on the international market by discovering new flavors using local ingredients.