Korean fermented soybean paste.
I'm interested in trying to make this using local fava beans. I'm inspired by Noma's peaso and by Nokni's approach to using Korean techniques with local ingredients. Did a little research, and discovered that the Chinese have a fermented fava bean paste called Doubanjiang. Fava beans seem to be viewed as a good soybean replacement for a lot of reasons, including neutral-ish flavor.
It turns out soybeans have considerably more protein than most beans — just about double. I don't know what impact that might have on fermenting, but just noting.
Did some more research, and discovered that fermenting bean pastes is a thing. However, I haven't found anything on fermenting beans (other than soybeans) using Korean techniques. So, I think I'll give it a shot.
January 18, 2021
4 pounds, 1 ounce of dried organic soybeans from Berkeley Bowl. Soaked about 16 hours. They over doubled in volume — I had to split them into two bowls to keep them submerged under water. Interestingly, they are largely spherical when dried, but look like regular beans when rehydrated.
Split them into two pots with about double the water. Simmered for five hours. Drained, then mashed them using a potato masher. Didn't stress about beans that didn't get mashed.
Made four blocks — approximately 6x4x3. Set on parchment paper-lined half baking sheet to dry, rotating them every several hours. Will hopefully be able to hang them this Friday (January 22).
Smells like the powdered tteok Mom used to buy when we were kids.
I know the meju will shrink as it dries and ferments, but one block is probably enough for me for a year. I could get away with doing one pound of dried soybeans next time, maybe two to give me some leeway.
January 22, 2021
Noticed black mold growing, and the meju was still moist. Cut off the black mold, then decided to try drying the blocks with a fan.
January 29, 2021
The fan seems to have worked. No more mold on the outside, blocks are light and completely dried.
May 3, 2021
The meju got pungent over time, and I thought it was working. Rinsed the blocks today in preparation for brining, and noticed black mold in the cracks. Tried removing it with a chopstick, but wasn't confident I was getting it all out, so broke open the block. Too much black mold for my taste. I should have tossed the batch as soon as I detected black mold and tried making it again.