Movin’ forward in time, to the Han Dynasty.
We decided to jump through time a little bit with this week’s recipe. We are moving from Neolithic China, to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.E – 220 C.E) Part of the difficulty and fun of these recipes; is the journey we have to take with determining what we can cook, and what time periods that includes.
As Bradly said last week, a lot of what we do is working backwards. We spend a lot of time focusing on the ingredients we have to omit, rather than what is available to us. This is mostly due to the records or lack thereof, we have available to us. This is why some decisions end up being harder than they should be. Take for instance, the trial for this week: What is the difference between Soy Sauce and Soybean Paste.
Exhibit A: Soybean Paste
Soybean Paste in English, Jiang in Chinese, Miso in Japanese or Doenjang in Korean Cuisine; is a mixture of fermented soybeans, water, and salt. In more modern mixtures, it includes wheat flour.
The earliest records that archaeologist have of it being used as early as 40 B.C.E due to evidence within tombs and writings.
Exhibit B: Soy Sauce
Soy Sauce, unlike its salty brother above, does not appear in records until the Song Dynasty (960 to 1270 C.E.). Whereas, we can make assumptions that it could have been present earlier (since it’s simply Soybean paste with additional water and longer fermentation), the lack of documentation requires us to state that it’s unlikely that individuals in the Han Dynasty were cooking with Soy Sauce.
Verdict: Soy Sauce is inaccurate
The hardest part about producing these recipes is having to admit that I (Meghan) was wrong. I’m never wrong. And while I still firmly believe that it’s likely that early Chinese peoples could have cooked with a substance that was an over-fermented soybean paste with additional water, I have to wave the white flag.
That’s a huge reason why we do what we do. It’s two educated individuals discussing topics, but I have to remind everyone – No matter how big of a know-it-all I am, I cannot be right on Archaeology – since I never studied it.
Confession before the recipe: This court case above existed in real-life. I used Soy Sauce, where I should have used Soybean Paste. I have adjusted the recipe to use paste instead of soy sauce, with the correct portion sizes. Please forgive me for the crimes I’ve committed.
A dish to take to the afterworld…
5 out of 5 stars
I loved this meal. All of the flavors complimented each other from the start. It had the tanginess from the apricot sauce, with the Sichuan peppercorns providing a burn. To a beautifully roasted chicken with fried rice. I would make this again (with more accurate ingredients).
5 out of 5 stars
Not much to say about this meal. It tasted like fried rice. I would recommend making the meal. BUT maybe try to stick to the ingredients they had available.
Jack, Stephen. “Soy Story: The History of the Soy Bean”. https://www.eatingchina.com/articles/soystory.htm
Teh, Pek Yen; Goh, Hong Ching. The discovery of Silk Route: Cultural and technology communication between China, Korea and Japan. University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. http://journalarticle.ukm.my/11408/1/16248-45587-1-PB.pdf