Doenjang(된장; "thick sauce") or soybean paste is a type of fermented bean paste made entirely of soybean and brine. It is also a byproduct of soup soy sauce production.
Doenjang is made entirely of fermented soybean and brine. Soup soy sauce is also made during the doenjang production. Meju, Korean soybean brick, is made in early November. Soybeans are soaked overnight, boiled in salt water, and then pounded in a mortar or coarsely ground in a millstone. About a doe (≈1.8 litres) or two does of pounded soybean is chunked, compressed, and shaped into a cube or a sphere called meju. The meju bricks are then dried in a cool, shaded area for a week to several weeks until firm. When the bricks harden, they are tied with rice straws to the eaves of the house, or put in the warm room with rice straws, for fermentation. In the first month of the lunar year, well-fermented meju bricks are washed and sun-dried.
After drying, the meju bricks are aged in onggi crocks (jangdok) with brine. Charcoal and chillies are added for their absorbent and antibacterial properties, as well as folk-religious beliefs that they drive evil spirits away. When fermented well, the aged meju chunks are mashed to become doenjang, and the filtrate is boiled to become soy sauce.
Nutrition and health
Doenjang is rich in flavonoids and beneficial vitamins, minerals, and plant hormones (phytoestrogens) which are sometimes claimed to possess anticarcinogenic properties. In Korean traditional meals, the menu has concentrated on vegetables and rice, but doenjang, which is made of soybeans, has a great deal of lysine, an essential amino acid that rice lacks. Linoleic acid (53% of the fatty acids) and linolenic acid (8% of the fatty acids) have an important role in normal growth of blood vessels and prevention of blood vessel-related illness. Doenjang's efficacy still exists after boiling, in dishes such as doenjang jjigae.