Yesan Soybean Paste

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Yensan Jipjang

Typically made according to the lunar calendar from July 15-20, yesan jiojang is a soybean past that was once made for noble families in the Yesan area of South Korea. Unlike soybean pastes from other regions, Yesan jipjang used expensive materials such as beef and dried shrimp, along with rice, barley and vegetables, and typically seasoned with soy sauce, not salt. Because it was made in the summer time, it required a short fermentation time and was a special seasonal food. The paste can be made over the course of a week, unlike other pastes which may a year of fermentation. In the past, people enjoyed a meal by mixing Yesan jipjang with boiled barley. It can also be added to soups, stews and other dishes, providing both flavor and protein. Because it does not contain salt, it should be refrigerated and consumed relatively quickly.   To make Yesan jipjang, boiled soybeans and steamed barley are mashed together and then placed on straw to dry and ferment in the shade. Then sticky rice is boiled and mixed with fermented soybean flour. Next, ingredients such as cucumber, eggplant, red pepper, beef brisket and shrimp are added, with the vegetables being first soaked overnight in salt water then rinsed. The ingredients are layered in a jar that this not covered with a lid, but with a thick layer heat-resistant persimmon leaves. Two-thirds of the jar is submerged in water to maintain a constant temperature for 3-4 days. (In the past, the jar was placed into a compost pile.) Then the persimmon leaves are removed and the ingredients mixed. After 3-4 more day, the soybean paste is ready for consumption.   As a traditional food of noble families in the Yesan area, some local people still remember the paste, though today it has become much harder to find due to changes in the local diet. One commercial company makes Yesan jipjang, however difficulty in storage and distribution means that it is limited mainly to the production area. Some families still make the paste at home for personal consumption, but this historical product may face extinction within the near future.  

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StateSouth Korea


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