Chunggukjang

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Written by Rae

Christmas and New Years has passed and I think we had a sweets overload around that time!  I’ve been eating a lot of savory foods lately, and wanted to share some with you.

These days I have been making a short trip down the road to a small underground market where ajummas (old ladies) sell huge tubs of banchan (side dishes).  I’ve been buying some banchan because they are super cheap and very delicious.  Normally for Korean cooking, and other asian cooking, the prep time is long and the cooking time is short.  Last week I was preparing banchan and a main dish, and it took a long time . . .  that was just for lunch.  It’s convenient for me to buy banchan, and I don’t know why I didn’t before, and make just one thing during lunch and dinner instead of a main plate and several side dishes.

Today I decided to make chunggukjang.  Chunggukjang is not something you’d be eager to taste once you got a wiff of its strong aroma.  Most people only know its aroma from smelling stinky feet in gym class, or something horribly rotten.  Well, that’s just what it is – fermented beans, similar to the japanese natto (which I also love).  It has a salty and pungent taste, with some umami.  It is very comforting in the winter time, and it often served as a soup along with Korean bbq.

Chunggukjang brick
Chunggukjang brick

The chunggukjang comes in a brick.  It looks like beans in mud, and can be seasoned with red pepper flakes or dashida.

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To make chunggukjang you add a lump of the chunggukjang (to taste) along with potatoes, zucchini, onions, green onions, and kimchi.  Tofu is often added, but I didn’t have any, so I left it out.  You can add whatever you like, though.  I just add what I have on hand.  Boil it all together, and it’s finished!

Today I’m eating my chunggukjang with japchae, braised black beans, and pickled seaweed.  Yum, yum!

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