If you’re familiar with Japanese nattō, then cheonggukjang (and the “special” sense it triggers*) needs no introduction.
For those of you who don’t know, cheonggukjang is like a highly exaggerated version of dwenjang, or soybean paste. What distinguishes cheonggukjang from its familiar counterpart is its shorter fermentation period, which causes the paste to retain much of its ammonia smell.
Cheonggukjang is typically used to produce a stew that, like dwenjang jjigae, includes potatoes, onions, and tofu. It has great health benefits and since it is rich in nutrients, but its distinctive smell often prevents the wary from even coming close.
There’s a reason why cheonggukjang is nicknamed “Dead Body Soup.” But don’t let that deter you from trying it, though. Cheonggukjang may be an acquired taste and smell but so are the likes of durian, stinky tofu, and Limburger cheese.
If you do feel up to the challenge, you can grab a bowl at Olympic Cheonggukjang in L.A.’s Koreatown!
2528 W. Olympic Blvd. Ste 104
Los Angeles, CA 90006
*It triggers healthy poop and farts. Eating cheonggukjang not only helps with digestion, but it’s also good for your brain and helps fight cancer cells, treats stroke, and lowers your cholesterol. It’s better than an apple a day!
[Photo: Eli. G/Yelp]