Kitchen Tips

Doenjang – Korean Soybean Paste

Popularly known as ‘The smell of Korea’, Doenjang is the famous fermented soybean paste. It is one of the most essential ingredients in Korean cooking and has been used since time immemorial. The health benefits of Doenjang make it even more popular.

How is Doenjang made?

Doenjang is made by boiling, mashing and fermenting soybeans. However, although it sounds easy, Doenjang is prepared over a period of five months.

Boiled and mashed soybeans are first moulded into blocks and sun dried. At night the soybean blocks are wrapped in a blanket during which time the fermentation process starts. This method of sun drying and wrapping in a blanket goes on till the bacteria moulds starts to grow on the soybean block.

A statutory warning must be given out about the pungent smell that is omitted by the soybean block at this point. It is extremely strong and many might find it unfavourable. However, the longer you ferment the block better the flavour.Once the bacteria covers the block, it is then stored in earthen pots filled with brine. The longer one stores the soybean block for fermentation, the better the Doenjang tastes.

Doenjang - Korean soybean paste

Image Courtesy: Google images

Popular Korean dishes made using Doenjang

Doenjang is used extensively in almost every Korean cuisine. A spoonful of Doenjang is added either while cooking a dish or is served just as a compliment in the side.

Below are some of the most popular dishes that incorporate Doenjang

Bulgogi – It is one of the most popular beef dishes in Korea. Bulgogi is marinated beef strips that that are grilled and served with rice, kimchi and  Doenjang as sides.

Bibimbap Bibimbap is the signature rice dish of Korea. A bowl of warm rice is topped with cooked and seasoned vegetables, egg, meat and Doenjang paste.

Bibimbap - Korean soybean paste

Image Courtesy: Alpha used under the Creative Commons Licence

Doenjang Jjigae – It is a stew cooked using plenty of fresh vegetables, seafood and tofu. It is easy to make and is filled with the goodness of health due to all the ingredients used in it.

Bossam – Bossam  is boiled pork belly that is thinly sliced and served with a variety of sides, including the Doenjang paste.

Samgyeopsal – Slices of pork belly meat are either deep fried or grilled and served with other grilled vegetables. The meat is kept plain and eaten with Doenjang and gochujang which act as dips.

Here’s more about the different pastes used in Korean cuisine.

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