What is Jang ?
‘Jang’ (in Korean 장), the most basic ingredient that determines the taste of all foods, is a typical fermented food.
When cooking Korean food, we normally season with soy sauce, soybean paste, and red pepper paste instead of salt. Seasoning with fermented ‘Jang’ gives off a moderate saltiness and sweet flavor. This is the characteristic and charm of Korean food.
The first literature to which the word ‘Me-ju**’ appears is <Samguk Sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms)>. It is said that he sent a poem, which means “Me-ju,”, sent as a gift to the royal family. In addition, the existence of ‘jang’ can be found in various documents of Goryeo, which has become very diverse due to the development of the processing industry.
It is also recored that ‘jang’ was distributed as an emergency food for the people who are in starvation. During the Joseon Dynasty, soybean paste was the mainstream and till today. History shows that the ‘Jang’ culture has been rooted in Korea for a long time.
** Meju (메주) is a brick of dried fermented soybeans.
The spicy and sweet taste of red pepper paste (Gochujang) is stimulating but refreshing. Gochujang is especially used in seafood dishes, and when you add it to bibimbap, it enhances the flavor of the food. It is also the ‘Jang’ that brings out the best Korean flavor. Capsaicin in the chili helps you to be good for dieting because it stimulates your metabolism and burns fat.
According to the results of a recent study, showed that red pepper paste compared to capsaicin is more effective in gaining lesser weight and decreasing the cholesterol level in the blood. Also, studies have shown that ripe red pepper paste can help curb the growth of cancer cells. As such, ‘jang’ is an essential ingredient for determining the taste of Korean cuisine and also contains the wisdom of Korean ancestors who thought about the harmony between taste and health.