Tamari is a uniquely delicious, versatile seasoning that adds immeasurably to the flavor of soups, sauces, vegetables, dips, and entrées. Making tamari is an expensive, time-consuming process. However, because tamari is made with 100 percent whole soybeans, it is very concentrated, so a little goes a long way. The Yaemon's special koji drying process, described earlier, further concentrates the flavor. Mitoku's tamari's staying power during cooking is incredible. Reduce the amount of soy sauce called for in a recipe by about 25 percent when cooking with Mitoku tamari.
Unlike shoyu, which derives much of its flavor from the natural alcohol produced by wheat fermentation, tamari's rich flavor comes from an abundance of amino acids, which are derived from soy protein. Because amino acids are not volatile, they don't evaporate the way alcohol does. This makes tamari the better soy sauce to choose when lengthy cooking is required. Tamari also contains more flavor-intensifying glutamic acid than shoyu. Bland foods like shiitake mushrooms and tofu are enhanced when simmered in a seasoned liquid. For dishes that require this long-simmering process, tamari is the preferred seasoning.
You may have noticed that alcohol is listed as an ingredient in new domestic brands of soy sauce. Concentrated ethyl alcohol is sometimes used as a soy-sauce preservative. According to Japanese fermentation experts, traditional shoyu made with koji that contains 50 percent wheat and 50 percent whole soybeans produces enough alcohol from wheat fermentation (about 2.5 percent) to inhibit the growth of yeast. Traditional tamari, however, contains no wheat and produces only about 0.1 percent natural alcohol. To prevent the growth of yeast after the bottle is opened, some tamari producers add concentrated ethyl alcohol before packaging.
Yaemon Mitoku tamari contains no added ethyl alcohol. At great expense, the Yaemon family adds a little of Japan's finest rice brandy, Mikawa mirin to their tamari. Mikawa mirin is made by the same traditional koji process as Mansan tamari. The addition of mirin, not only prevents the growth of yeast, but actually contributes to the aroma and deep, rich taste of Mansan tamari.