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Introduction of Ganjang
is Soybean source?
: A liquid sauce made from soybeans fermented and
steeped in brine.
Soybean sauce (korean name : ganjang)
is a solution extracted from the mixture of "meju"
(fermented soybeans), water, and salt.
Completely boiled soybeans are
kept in their original shape or in rectangular lumps until
they are fermented by fungi and enzymes growing naturally
in soybeans. Dried meju lumps are crushed into fine pieces
and steeped in brine until they are further fermented and
matured. The liquid is separated from the solid.
The liquid is called soybean
sauce, while the solid is called soybean paste. The
liquid and the solid are preserved until they are matured
further. They are Korea's traditional
soybean-fermented foods that are used as seasonings. Soybean sauce is a fermented
food made from soybeans rich in protein and amino acids.
It was developed to meet the need for foodstuffs as meat
was prohibited after Buddhism spread throughout Korea.
It provides rich protein and can be kept for a long period
of time. Indeed, it is a scientific food carrying the wisdom
of Korean ancestors.
Many Korean people believed that poor tasting
soybean sauce would bring about
great disasters in the year. Therefore, making soybean sauce
has been one of the largest annual events for Korean women.
People judge the culinary skill of a homemaker by the taste
of the soybean sauce they make.
"Kan" in Kanjang (a Korean term
for soybean sauce) means "salty."
Soybean sauce is referred to as "Jiryeong"
in "Gyuhabchongseo" (a book about housekeeping,
including cooking), and was called "Jireom" in
Seoul. However, the origin of this term has not been known.
It has been used together with "Kanjang,"
an old word for Soybean sauce found in "Hunmongjahoe."
Today, traditional Korean soybean sauce
is made by steeping meju (fermented soybean) lumps in brine
until the liquid is fermented. Imwonsibyukji
(a culinary book written in 1827), however, states
that in addition to soybeans, carbohydrate-containing grains
like wheat, barley, and buckwheat were used as well in making
The book also mentions 20 kinds of soybean
sauces and 12 kinds of "shi" (fermented soybeans),
implying that soybeans were fermented in powder or lumps
by the end of the Joseon Dynasty.
It is not clear when and why Koreans began to ferment soybeans
only in lumps. Gyuhapchongseo(1869), written
in the later part of Joseon Dynasty, records how to make
soybean sauce in detail, the characteristics of good meju,
when to make soybean sauce, and how to make brine.
According to this book, the desirable maturation
period of soybean sauce is 60-100 days.