Many people believe that shrimp paste, a typical sauce from the peoples of northern Vietnam, is the best sauce to accompany tofu. But since I was a kid, I have always preferred that my tofu be dipped in fermented soybean paste, or tương, because its sweeter, lighter smell and taste reminds me of my grandmother, who used to make it at home.
This traditional dipping sauce enjoyed by vegetarian Buddhists is now less popular in cities, and the recipes and techniques for making it well tương they are only passed on within individual families. But if you have the opportunity to try it and compare its flavor with other fermented soy pastes, such as miso in Japan and Doenjang In Korea, you will find a common and treasured food tradition.
How do you do it?
The sauce has a high nutritional value because it is made from soybeans fermented with some type of mold or fungus. To make this mold, glutinous rice is steamed or, alternatively, plain rice is cooked with less water than usual, and then spread on a woven tray and covered with leaves to keep warm. The rice is left to ferment for approximately 7-10 days.
Each family and each region has its own method of making the mold, but the basic principle is the same: the fermented rice will generate heat and create an ideal condition for the mushrooms to grow. Scientists call this type of mushroom A. oryzae. It is also known as koji. This fungus helps transform rice starch into glucose, resulting in a powdered mixture with a nice golden color and a sweet taste. It is important to keep track of mold as it develops on rice, as sometimes other, possibly toxic types of fungi can also develop and will need to be removed.
At the same time, the soybeans are roasted and crushed or ground into pieces, and then boiled with water and poured into clay jars. The jars are then capped and placed in a sunny, ventilated place to ferment. When the rice mold is fully developed, it is mixed in the jars and the fermentation process will continue for at least 15 to 20 days to create the final product, fermented soybean paste.
Salt is an indispensable ingredient. Adding the right amount of salt is important to ensure good taste and long storage time. Salt can be mixed into the mold after it’s done or added directly to the jar. Either way, the end result is a perfect combination of salty, sweet, and umami taste of fermented soybeans.
Check out a traditional fermentation method:
Video source: VTC14 – Thời tiết – Môi trường & Đời sống
Where can you find it?
In Vietnam, fermented soybean paste is used primarily as a dipping sauce for dishes served with rice, such as tofu and boiled vegetables. It can also be used as a seasoning when cooking fish or stewed vegetables. Especially in the north, bánh đúc lạc It is a popular snack in rural markets. It is a tasty cake made from rice and peanut flour, which is then dipped in fermented soybean paste.
Watch this video to learn how to use soybean paste to improve your health:
Video source: sharecare.com
Regions of Vietnam famous for their tradition of making fermented soybean paste include: Bần village in Hưng Yên province near Hanoi, Cự Đà village in Hanoiand Nam Đàn district of Nghệ An province. Many people use tương and tương bầninterchangeably to refer to fermented soybean paste. The town of Bần has been famous for this product since the end of the 19th century.
In southern Vietnam there is a type of fermented soybean paste called tương hột. It is made from whole boiled soybeans mixed with ground roasted soybeans, fermented with rice or corn mold, or using prepared soy sauce to speed up the fermentation process. Tương hột It is also used as a seasoning for fish, tofu, or grilled vegetables. When mixed, it can be used as a component in dipping sauce for fresh spring rolls.
Vietnamese tương and japanese miso
If you love Japanese cuisine, you have probably tried miso soup, Japanese home cooking made with miso paste, seaweed, tofu, and green onions. However, not many people know that miso it is actually the Japanese version of fermented soybean paste. Miso it is similar to vietnamese tương in components and production methods but with some differences.
First, in Japan soybeans are not roasted before boiling. Instead, they are soaked overnight, so the boiled beans are much softer and can be mashed into a thick, fine paste. Second, the steamed rice is mixed with koji starter and fermented for a few days, to become kome koji (rice mold). Finally, soybean paste and kome koji they are mixed with salt and put in a jar. Ingredients must be weighed to pressurize the mixture. This is done with a heavy bag as in this video. The jar is then capped for a month-long fermentation process.
Video Source: JapaneseCooking101
Vietnamese fermented soybean paste is just as nutritious as its Japanese cousin, and even more versatile. It can be added to variations of the country’s most beloved braised fish (Cá kho), used as a sauce to dip the famous gỏi cuốn, or is used as a condiment in many vegetarian dishes. The options are endless.