Jook Jang Yeon Doenjang
This fermented soybean paste is made by steeping barley in water for 10 hours before it’s steamed, mixed with soy beans and aged for three years in earthenware pots exposed to the changing seasons. The resulting paste is rich in umami, with a deep nutty-cocoa powder-like taste and incredible clean, clear savory flavor. The thick paste is punctuated with tender flecks of soy or barley grains and has a creamy, yet firm character. It’s a relative of Japanese miso, as both are fermented soybean pastes, but miso is made with koji and rice, which results in more sweetness and an overall lighter character (while still being umami-rich and salty). Doenjang is generally just salt and soy (this one includes barley), which yields a deeper and more intense flavor that we love.
Jook Jang Yeon Gochujang
Made from chili pepper, sweet rice, malt and malt syrup and fermented for at least six months months in traditional crocks, Gochujang is basically a household name at this point. You can buy (crappy) bottles and jars of it at Walmart. But the important thing is to differentiate between the cheap, mass-produced versions and these top-quality versions. While most gochujangs on the market are thick, but will drip off your spoon, this one is more like a glossy ganache—spreadable and scoopable, yet decadently thick. It's clean and complex—a wonderful fruity chili flavor is the star, while it's rounded out with funky fermentation notes and a pleasant tingly heat. There's also a hint of effervescence akin to sake, or even a sparkling wine. Its sweetness is round and balanced, not sticky like most brands.
Jook Jang Yeon Ganjang
A Korean iteration of soy sauce, this condiment originating from the Gyeongsang Province is crafted with exceptional care using traditional techniques. It’s simmered in a gamasot (large iron pot) for six hours with kelp and jujube, which gives the sauce a slightly more decadent consistency. It has soy sauce’s signature hit of umami nuttiness, yet there is a rounder, more distinct depth. There’s also a slight lingering sweetness akin to dark chocolate, which is brought out by the more salty and savory notes. The overall effect is exceptional richness of flavor and intriguing complexity. While cheaper brands generally all taste the same: flat, salty, savory, and one-note, the complex and subtleties of this ganjang really stand-out as especially beautiful and complex.