[ASEAN-Korea summit] Fermentation at heart of Korean, ASEAN cuisines

By Park Yuna
  • Published : Nov 26, 2019 - 15:37
  • Updated : Nov 26, 2019 - 15:38

Experts on fermented food from Asia came together for a forum on Tuesday, amid growing recognition of the health and nutritional benefits of such food worldwide.

Experts from Korea and four member states of ASEAN --Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia -- gathered at the aT Center in Seoul to introduce fermented food, exchanging knowledge and introducing the different cultural backgrounds of their cuisines.

The ASEAN-Korea Food Fermentation and Culture Forum was held on the sidelines of the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit, which kicked off in Busan on Monday. Representatives from the five countries talked about their fermented food and culture, under the topic of “Discover Values: Fermented Food Culture in ASEAN and Korea.”

Professor Chung Hae-kyung from Hoseo University talked about Korean fermented jang, or sauce, an essential element in virtually all Korean dishes. 

Participants at The ASEAN-Korea Food Fermentation and Culture Forum pose at the aT Center in Seoul on Tuesday (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs)

Jang comes in a variety of flavors based on the ingredients and the method of fermentation. Doenjang and ganjang are fermented soybean products, while fermented soybean and red pepper powder are used to make the fiery red paste called “gochujang.”

Shin Dong-hwa, a professor emeritus at Chonbuk National University, discussed how to sustain and develop the fermented food of Korea.

Four experts from the four ASEAN member states each talked about the traditional fermented food of their countries: Tran Duc Ahn Son of Tao Dan Thu Quan Books Co. from Vietnam; Wida Winarno, founder of Indonesian Tempe Movement; professor Ekachai Chukeatirote from Thailand; and professor M. Shahrim Ab Karim from Malaysia.

Ahn Son introduced Vietnam’s traditional fermented food products hailing from Hue, central Vietnam, which was the seat of the Nguyen dynasty, the country’s last empire.

Winarno introduced tempe or temphe, a type of Indonesian food made by fermentation. He talked about the excellence of the food product by presenting various examples of how the food is served. Based on soybeans, tempe comes in a cake form.

Thailand’s thua nao, similar to Korean-style fermented soybean-based pastes, was introduced by Professor Ekachai.

Professor Ab Karim, who is also a chef in Malaysia, presented not only a variety of fermented food from his country but also Malaysian dishes that reflect the multiple ethnic identities of the country’s population.

A round-up discussion based on the presentations followed.

An official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said, “We hope the event provided an opportunity to learn the importance of fermented food products of Korea and ASEAN countries. We also expect the countries will be able to strengthen cultural and economic ties through this kind of event, which was held as part of the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit.”

Around 200 people from the food industry and academic institutes attended the event, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Korean Food Promotion Institute.

By Park Yuna (

This article was produced in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. -- Ed.