Cheonggukjang 청국장How many delicious recipes I have introduced to you that use soybeans? I showed you how to make key Korean ingredients with them like fermented soybean paste and soy sauce, and I also showed you how to make soy milk and ground soybean stew with them, too. Today I add one more thing: extra-strong fermented soybean paste, called cheonggukjang in Korean and one of my favoritesCheonggukjang is soybean paste that has been fermented for a couple of days, unlike doenjang, which is fermented for a few months or more. Both processes use the bacteria bacillus subtilis found in the the air around us, but theres no salt involved in the process of making cheonggukjang, its made from just soybeans only, and the process is much simpler and less time consuming. Cheonggukjang is similar to Japanese nattō, except nattō uses only bacillus subtilis var. natto thats injected from a culture or already fermented natto. Cheonggukjang has stronger smell but they taste similar.I used to make huge amounts of cheonggukjang when I lived in Korea, at the same time of year that I made winter kimchi. I made enough to last my whole family through the winter. My house in Korea had traditional Korean underfloor heating (ondol) that was powered by charcoal briquettes. The room next to the boiler was consistently warm and toasty and the perfect temperature and condition for fermenting cheonggukjang!I missed cheonggukjang ever since I left Korea. You can buy it in Korean grocery stores in the West but it cant be compared to homemade. Theres a restaurant in New York that serves cheonggukjang stew but every time I ordered it there, it made me miss my homemade cheonggukjang even more. So when I was planning my cookbook I decided to definitely include cheonggukjang in the book, which meant I needed to figure out how to make it in a modern American apartment. I needed to recreate the large, consistently warm heated surface of my old Korean underfloor heating. The beans need for 2 days so they can ferment properly. I experimented with an electric mat on the floor, which worked great except the beans on top of the pile would get dried and wrinkly. I tried adding a cup of water to the middle of the mound and it worked perfectly! I cried a single tear in happiness when I first saw those fermented beans! Ive been making them ever since.Korean researchers have done many studies on the health benefits of cheonggukjang. They say the fermented beans provide good protein that can be digested easily and are good for controlling blood pressure, fighting cancer, and improving your complexion. For me, I just love the taste and smell. The smell is unique and hard to describe. Its similar to good, stinky cheese I had in France, but even better! Probably because I was raised on it.