Slow Food Korea Celebrates ‘Jang’ during Three-Day Festival

01 Dec 2023

Slow Food Korea hosted a vibrant celebration in Suseungdae Village, Geochang, Gyeongsangnam-do from October 7th to 9th, marking a significant milestone for Mr. Taeyoung Woo, a member of Slow Food Korea.

 

 

A Festival Dedicated to jang

For nearly a decade, Mr. Woo has been crafting jang ()—fermented soybean sauce and paste—in this picturesque village, laying the foundation for the annual Jang Festival. This year, commemorating its 10th anniversary, around fifty Slow Food Korea members gathered to partake in the festival dedicated to jang. 

Mr.Woo Tae-young , GANJANG Forum CEO, announcing the opening of the Celebration

What is jang?

Jang, a product of meticulous fermentation involving solely soybeans, water, and salt, embodies a centuries-old tradition in Korean cuisine. Its distinct qualities make it a cornerstone of Korean flavors, determining the essence of myriad dishes. Its cultural significance is echoed in the saying, “A household with good jang will prosper,” highlighting its integral role in Korean culinary traditions and being synonymous with eco-friendly gastronomy and Slow Food. 

Tasting kit prepared for the taste workshop. It is fermented soybeans, soybean paste, and rice.

Production of jang in South Korea

The festival not only celebrated jang but also served as a platform to address the dwindling tradition of homemade jang. Urban lifestyles have led to a sharp decline in households producing their own jang, with many opting for factory-made soy sauce due to time constraints. Startlingly, traditional methods account for a mere 14% of total soy sauce consumption, according to TFIS (Korea Food Industry Statistics) 2020 data. The factory-made versions, often derived from imported GMO soybeans without the vital fermentation process, not only disrupt the essence of Korean food culture but also pose health risks. 

The exterior of Gavial and Jangdokdae (a platform where the crocks of soy sauce are placed) As a ritual, small bowls are put on to pray for healthy fermentation.

Slow Food Korea in action!

Slow Food Korea, committed to preserving and promoting traditional jang, orchestrated a series of events during the festival. Attendees engaged in workshops, cooking classes, and forums centered around jang—a testament to its diversity and cultural significance. A particular highlight of the event was showcasing over 100 types of soybean sauces and pastes from across the country, contributed by Slow Food Korea members, fermentation school communities, and esteemed jang artisans. 

Beyond the gastronomic experience, the festival aimed to rekindle appreciation for jang and encourage contemplation about farmers’ efforts, environmental sustainability, and responsible consumption practices. It breathed new life into the ethos of the Slow Food Movement, blending enjoyment with meaningful reflection, fostering a sense of community within Slow Food, and fortifying its mission to preserve culinary traditions. 

Members of Slow Food Korea who participated in the taste workshop

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