What is Soybean Paste (Doenjang) ?
A classic Korean seasoning paste is made by fermenting cooked soybeans and salt over several months. This Korean seasoning adds a salty, unique fermented umami-packed flavor to Korean dishes.
Soybeans are cooked, then formed into bricks, dried and fermented before being soaked in brine. Leftover liquids become soup soy sauce, the solids become doenjang.
Not To Be Confused With
Miso, Black Bean Paste
Where and What To Buy
Korean or Asian grocery store, online, my Amazon store.
Just like soy sauce, Sempio is the oldest company that makes naturally fermented Doenjang. Sempio makes several kinds of Doenjang. My top choice is Baekil Doenjang 백일된장 (in the picture) but that may not be available online. If so, you can buy Tojang 토장 (sold on amazon).
There are other brands that are good too. Just look for ones that have minimal ingredients (soy beans 대두, salt 천일염 is all you need) and that says it was 'naturally fermented' 자연숙성. It may sometimes have added chili powder. But the more additives there are, it probably means, it was not naturally fermented and they had to add a lot of other ingredients to make it taste good.
FYI - there's 양념된장 (Yangnyeom Doenjang) which may have added garlic, onion, sugar, etc. You can read MORE on my post Know Your Doenjang.
How to Use/Cook
- Use to make soups or stews. Add to anchovy broth or meat broth.
- Make Ssamjang
- Add to blanched vegetables like cabbage, radish greens (시래기 shiraegi) and other namuls
- Use when boiling pork belly - helps to remove any unwanted pork smell
How to Clean/Store
Unopened doenjang can be stored in a cool dry place. It can stay good for quite awhile at room temperature if stored in an airtight container, however it is recommended to keep doenjang in the refrigerator once opened.
Doenjang can be kept for over a year but usually, the color will go dark and the flavor will diminish, leaving a more bitter salty flavor so try to consume it within the year.
- Soybean paste has been found to have great health benefits such as anticancer, antimetastatic, and antigenotoxic effects. See reference links below for actual research papers on this topic.
- "It is also a good source of essential amino acids, minerals, and vitamins.(6) Moreover, fermented soybean products were shown to have higher phenolic and protein contents and greater antioxidant activity than non-fermented ones.(7) The increase in genistein and linoleic acid contents during fermentation of soybean is believed to be mainly responsible for the high biological activity of doenjang.(4,5)" - excerpt from reference #3
- However, due to the high salt content, one should be careful about consuming large amounts of it.
Recipes that use it:
- Doenjang improves its anticancer, antimetastatic properties.
- Antigenotoxic effects of Korean fermented soybean paste. FYI, antigenotoxic means it counters genotoxicity which “describes the property of chemical agents that damages the genetic information within a cell causing mutations, which may lead to cancer.” (Wikipedia