There’s something Japan’s favourite fermented foodstuffs have in common, and you may not have heard of it before.
We’ve established how the quality of the ingredients makes a huge difference to the quality of a sauce. But the production process is also incredibly important. This is where Lee Kum Kee separates itself from its competitors.
It all starts, as you might imagine, with the oysters. Lee Kum Kee only picks the best oysters from farms in brackish water filled inlets. Regular water testing is performed on the inlets to ensure the safety and quality of the oysters produced, and the farms are monitored by Lee Kum Kee employees. A minimum of 2 years of growth is needed before the oyster even reaches the rigorous screening process Lee Kum Kee put their products through. Oyster quality assessors, who have monitored the oysters throughout their life, are on board to make sure only the best oysters make it through.
The next phase is the production of oyster extract. Oyster extract is made from slowly boiling massive vats of oysters to extract as much flavour as possible from them. Oyster extract is the key ingredient in making a quality oyster sauce, so great care needs to be taken to generate the best possible product. The oysters that qualified are individually cleaned on the production line to assure all sediment is removed. The oysters are then boiled by a team of oyster quality assessors with years of experience who monitor the cooking time and temperature to extract maximum flavour. The milky white oyster soup is then boiled down further.
Next up is the mixing process. Each ingredient, including cornstarch and sugar, are measured and weighed by a fully automated system. This system makes sure every ingredient is divvied up correctly to the last gram. All ingredients have to go through quality assurances before they even get to the mixing stage.
Similarly, the blending process is also automated and incredibly accurate and controlled. That’s why you get such a consistent, high-quality product every time you pop open a bottle of Lee Kum Kee. The whole process is monitored by a verified food technologist to ensure the high quality is maintained.
Just like fine wine, whisky or champagne, the final process needs to be sealed from the outside to avoid contamination. Lee Kum Kee performs their cooking process in a sealed and automatic production system. The closely monitored process involves sealing the sauce mix in vats and cooking them at high temperatures for sterilization and health safety purposes. The entire system is monitored by computers to ensure quality and consistency in the final sauce product.
Finally comes the bottling. The bottles are inspected, cleaned and sterilized to ensure they’re all safe to use. The still hot sauce is then filtered, checked by metal detectors for foreign objects, then portioned into the bottles via sealed pipelines to avoid contamination. The sauce is then cooled before being sealed and made ready for shipment. This includes being sealed with a safety button cap to ensure no tampering has taken place.