Miso vs. Daengjang
Is there a difference? To me they taste pretty much the same, but what about their makeup?
I know miso has a much smoother consistency whereas daengjang is more chunkier with some beans thrown in. I am all about my mom's daengjang chigae where there are a few beans amongst the soup.
Also I know that miso isn't supposed to be boiled in water...rather simmered. However korean people always boil dangjang chigae or serve it boiling in a pot on the table (how my family serves it).
Can I use either one interchangably?
I've wondered the same thing. I think daenjhang is a bit "funkier" tasting than miso. It's a bit stronger, especially since miso has some really mild versions as the white miso. I've found that most non-Asians prefer miso to daenjhang. At our wedding celebration in LA, all of my family members loved the daenghang jigae, but our friends (who all happened to be non-Asian) didn't seem to be too crazy about it. If you want funky, try some chungookjhang (sp?). Lots of beans with more funkiness -- but not as funky as natto. I like it, but it's not to everyone's taste.
Miso is not supposed to be boiled in water because boiling it destroys the beneficial bacteria in it. I think daenghang has similar health properties but Koreans seem to boil it quite a bit because they like their hot foods served piping hot.
doenjang (we all spell this differently, huh?) is pretty uniform in taste and texture, but miso varies from thick pastes black as fudge to sweet, creamy blonde ones. and apparently doenjang is (or was traditionally) a product of soy sauce making. koreans use those fermented soybean blocks with the white mold, meju, throw them in crocks and by some complicated alchemy make soy sauce. when the liquid is drained off, doenjang is what's left. of course mine and yours probably comes in a tub from a factory, unless you have a korean market nearby that makes their own.
and i believe miss needle is correct about boiling it. miso has all these health benefits, but boiling kills the bacteria. and koreans do like their soups hot. i'm oh so proud of my new stone pot. when i made doenjang chigae in it and it was still boiling after i had brought it to the table, i could just imagine my halmoni staring in wonder.
but really, whether it's doenjang or miso, after pasteurization, how many healthy microorganisms are left? i have a jar of miso that is unpasteurized, made by a good american company, but the doenjang is imported from korea. i can read the label but i don't know what it's saying.
I finally did a side by side with miso and doenjang. The miso I tried is slightly lighter in color than the doenjang, and definitely much smoother.
I made two small soups using the same amounts of miso and doenjang - the miso was thinner and had a milder flavor but was much more salty.
The doenjang made a thicker soup, with stronger or richer flavor, a coarser texture, and was less salty.
Dwenjang has lower sodium content. Chunkier paste can be considered as a more concentrated-fermented flavor. This in turn results at times a more bitter taste compared to miso. So it depends on what you are cooking to use either pastes. For more salt content, you have to add more dwenjang which makes the soup a darker color. In health considerations, there is 198 mg of sodium for a cup of dwenjang, and some misos have 200-300 mg of sodium for a teaspoon of miso.