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Introduction of Doenjang
is Soybean Paste?
Soybean paste (Korean
name : deonjang) is made from soybeans, rice, barley,
wheat, and fatted soybeans. These primary ingredients are
mixed with salt and Aspergillus oryzae for fermenting and
maturing. Lumps of fermented soybeans (meju) are put in
brine until the brine is fermented, and the liquid is separated
from the solid.
has been believed to have 5 virtues:
devotion - it keeps its taste even when it is mixed with
other ingredients; steadiness - it does not decay for a
long time; merciful heart of Buddha - it removes fish and
oily flavor; generosity - it neutralizes spicy tastes; and
harmony - it harmonizes well with any other food. Soybean
paste is one of the traditional Korean foods carried over
for generations. It is loved by Korean people for its excellency
in taste and effects.
Lets find out some of the facts about soybeans,
the primary ingredient of soybean paste.
Soybeans originated from the southern part of Manchuria.
The birthplace of the Maek tribe, this area belonged to
Goguryo, one of the three Kingdoms in ancient Korea. This
history tells as that the original place of soybeans is
Korea. Wild and hybrid varieties of beans are found not
only in Manchuria, but also in all parts of the Korean peninsula.
This reconfirms that soybeans originated from Korea. Soybean
farming started 4,000 years ago, according to literature,
archeological specimens, and research on genetics.
Korea, the cradle of bean culture, began
making soybean paste a long time ago by boiling soybeans,
shaping them into lumps, and fermenting the lumps. Soybean
paste in the early days was a thick mixture of soybean sauce
and soybean paste. It is presumed that many kinds of soybean
pastes were made with fermented soybeans, and the
liquid was separated from the mixture of fermented soybeans
and brine during the Three-Kingdom period.
The technique of making soybean
paste was introduced to China, a neighbor of Korea.
Chinese people recognized Korean (Goguryo) people's skill
in making fermented food, and called the smell of soybean
paste the "Smell of Korea." As Korean meju (a
fermented soybean product) was introduced to China, Chinese
people began to make completely different soybean pastes
from the traditional ones. Ways of making soybean paste
during the Yi Dynasty are found in literature. According
to Guhwangboyubang (1660, a book about hardy crops), meju
was made by using soybeans and wheat, and greatly different
from those used today. Ways of making meju were first introduced
in Jeungbosallib-gyeongje (a book about farming), and they
still form the base of today's soybean paste manufacturing
Korea, as the cradle of bean culture, developed
meju, a processed soybean food, and introduced it to neighboring
countries, changing their diets greatly.