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Meju is a brick of fermented soybeans in Korean cuisine. It is used in Korean cuisine to make essential condiments such as soy sauce (kanjang), soybean paste (doenjang) and red chilli pepper paste (gochujang). Meju is produced by drying a brick of soybeans. The brick of soybeans is naturally fermented while it dries. There are several ways to make a brick of soybeans. Traditionally, boiled soybeans were crushed in a mortar and made into a brick shape to be tied up with straw.
Meju was commonly made in any Korean home in the past. Condiments made with mejus all tasted different because the production of meju was not standardized. As many Koreans now buy Korean traditional condiments instead of making them, it is difficult to find the wide variety of unique tasting condiments made from homemade meju.
The meaning of the word ‘meju’ originally included all condiments and seasonings made with meju. However, as another word ‘jang’ was used more frequently to refer to condiments made with meju, the meaning of the word ‘meju’ shifted to refer only to the stage before it is used in condiments. Scholars believe the Japanese word ‘miso’ which is similar to Korean doenjang came from the word ‘meju’.
- Pettid, Michael J. (2008). Korean Cuisine: An Illustrated History. London: Reaktion Books Ltd.. .
- "메주 : 지식백과". naver.com. 2014. http://terms.naver.com/entry.nhn?docId=1092741&cid=40942&categoryId=32110. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
- "메주 : 지식백과". naver.com. 2014. http://terms.naver.com/entry.nhn?docId=545713&cid=1647&categoryId=1647. Retrieved 14 June 2014.