Jang 장, the Korean sauce and paste (and a popular last name) is the staple of Korean cuisine. As a sauce, it nicely compliments other food such as vegetables and raw fish, and as a paste, it becomes the base of numerous Korean soups and casseroles, including doenjangguk 된장국 (“bean paste soup”) and kimchijjigae 김치찌개 (“kimchi casserole”). Traditionally, this versatile ingredient comes in 4 different types.
Ganjang 간장 – soy sauce
Makganjang 막간장– Common soy sauce made by dipping meju 메주, bricks of fermented soybeans.
Gyeopjang 겹장 – Thick, aged soy sauce made by mixing soy sauce with meju.
Eoganjang 어간장 – Soy sauce made from fish which is fermented for more than a year with salt.
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Doenjang 된장 – bean paste
Tojang 토장 – Made by mashing the meju that’s not been used for making ganjang.
Makdoenjang 막된장 – Made by mixing meju after using it for making soy sauce with salt, barley rice, and chili powder.
Cheonggukjang 청국장 – fermented bean paste
Cheonggukjang 청국장 – Made by crushing the salted boiled beans that were fermented for 2-3 days.
Dambukjang 담북장 – Made by adding minced radish and ginger to cheonggukjang. The fundamental difference between cheonggukjang and soybean paste lies in the fermentation period and the salt content.
Gochujang 고추장 – made with red pepper powder, glutinous rice, meju powder, malt, and salt
Chogochujang 초고추장 – Made by mixing gochujang with vinegar. Popularly used as a dressing for hoedeopbap 회덮밥 (“rice bowl with raw fish”) and a dipping sauce for raw fish.
Ssamjang 쌈장 – Spicy paste made by mixing gochujang and doenjang, along with sesame oil, garlic, scallions, and onion. Used when eating ssam 쌈 – food wrapped in a leaf.
Meju 메주 – A brick of dried fermented soybeans that serve as the basis of Korean jang. It’s made by crushing, pounding, and kneading the cooked soybeans into a brick shape, which then goes through the fermentation process. Colloquially, maybe because of its bumpy and rough texture, meju is used as a metaphor for an ugly person.