Thursday, April 15, 2021

[Food] Cheonggukjang (Rich bean paste stew, 청국장)


[Food] Cheonggukjang (Rich bean paste stew, 청국장)

Cheonggukjang is a typical byword for a 'foul odor'. It's one type of Korean traditional doenjang (bean paste). Doenjang takes several months to be perfectly fermented, but cheonggukjang needs only 2-3 days. Its original name was 'Jeongukjang' which means 'war-made bean paste', so Koreans 500~600 years ago even wanted to eat doenjang on the battlefield. That's why cheonggukjang was invented.

Cheonggukjang can be produced in any season and it also helps people to absorb soy bean protein efficiently with numerous beneficial bacteria. Soybean is soaked in hot water, washed and fermented in chaff at a high temperature. It's then mixed with garlic, salt, ginger and spicy red chili powder to be cooked at any time.

Cheonggukjang looks very similar to Japanese Nattō, but it's different by used bacteria during fermentation. Nattō uses only officially approved Bacillus Subtilis, while cheonggukjang uses Bacillus Subtilis and other bacteria.

Cheonggukjang also contains abundant protein-breakdown enzymes and diastatic enzymes, so it provides higher digestibility than other bean products. However, again, choenggukjang is a bit stinky to non-Koreans and many Koreans.

Cheonggukjang is cooked as Cheonggukjang stew with pork, bean curd and kimchi. It has a very unique (or again, stinky) and deep flavor of fermented soy bean which can be smelt from afar. This is why it is a typical 'love or hate' dish in Korea that one can usually eat in a Korean restaurant.

This being so, it's usually shunned by young Korean generations today and has begun to be forgotten by them, while the older generations still love it. So a Korean traditional chef invented odorless cheonggukjang to let many people taste cheonggukjang. Nevertheless, Koreans who love traditional Korean delicacy don't appreciate the odorless cheonggukjang because they think the 'foul odor' is a true specialty of cheonggukjang. What do you think? Well, you can decide after you taste cheonggukjang for yourself :)

Bon Appétit!

No comments:

Post a Comment