Japanese company seeks halal approval for alcohol-free udon soup broth

Arum Tiyas Suminar (on screen) and other employees of Kamada Soy Sauce Inc. are seen in Sakaide, Kagawa Prefecture on July 7, 2022. (Kyodo)

TAKAMATSU (Kyodo) — From mirin to soy sauce, alcohol is an integral part of Japanese broths, sauces and other products used to prepare dishes such as soba noodles or nikujaga meat and potato stew.

But this alcoholic component prevents many beyond Japan’s shores from trying its cuisine, including the world’s roughly 2 billion Muslims. Now, in a bid to make the local specialty Sanuki udon accessible to more people, Kamada Soy Sauce Inc. in western Kagawa Prefecture is preparing to seek halal approval for an alcohol-free version of the stock. noodle dish.

The idea came from Arum Tiyas Suminar, 28, an Indonesian who did her postgraduate studies at Kagawa University and is now employed at the soy sauce producer in Sakaide.

During his student days, Arum tried tasting a bowl of Sanuki udon at a local restaurant. But it wasn’t until he was in front of her that she thought of asking if his broth contained soy sauce or mirin, the sweet rice wine for cooking. When the waiter replied in the affirmative, she had to give up the meal.

The disappointing experience would have repercussions in his professional life. After completing his postgraduate studies in 2019 and finding a job at Kamada Soy Sauce, Arum set out to convince his colleagues of the importance of halal products for Muslim diners and took on the challenge of developing a stock of free soy sauce. alcohol.

The finished product, devoid of both alcohol content and animal-derived substances, also uses a carefully balanced recipe of ingredients in place of mirin.

With a purified production line among the necessary requirements for halal certification, the company, founded in 1789, uses specified cleaning products to rinse manufacturing equipment with water six times.

Arum’s boss in the manufacturing department, Toshinobu Naito, said of her perseverance, “She has a strong will to pursue what she wants. It’s the best thing when someone like that does the work.”

After a series of trial and error attempts, the finished product was released for sale in 2020 as Muslim-friendly udon dashi soy sauce. Regarding plans in 2023 to achieve halal certification, Arum said: “Standards for what is halal vary from person to person, but if we have that seal of approval then all Muslims can eat it without worry.

Prior to application, the company intends to ensure that the product meets the requirements in Indonesia, which has a population of over 200 million Muslims. The process will involve an online application, review of documents, on-site inspections and final judging.

With the global Muslim population expected to exceed 2 billion by 2030, the company sees potential global demand for its products. Even in Japan, more and more companies are getting Halal certification.

“If we can get approval, we can export to countries with many Muslims,” ​​Naito said. Certification will take time and money, but a rebellious Arum said, “In my life, there is no giving up.”

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