Beef Doenjang Jjigae, Korean soy bean paste stew with beef

by Beyond Kimchee on November 2, 2012 · 35 comments


Beef Doenjang JjigaeA good friend of mine gave me a jar of very precious gift.

It was a jar of homemade Korean soybean paste; the doenjang!

It’s been a while since I had the homemade doenjang in my kitchen. I was so thrilled. I learned that the doenjang she gave me was made in a Buddhist temple in Korea where her mother often goes to. Doenjang made in Buddhist temple was considered as one of the best kind.

Oh, the joy of smelling a stinky fermented jewel! I was the happiest home cook in the world when the unlovely(?) aroma hit under my nose…


Korean Soy Bean Paste "doenjang"

So I made a stew, …my favorite kind; the Beef Doenjang Jjigae (소고기 된장찌개, sogogi doenjang jjigae). We often calls this stew in the restaurant as 차돌박이 된장찌개 (chadolbaggi doenjang jjigae).

I tasted it, and boy…! I was so touched by the flavor I almost became emotional. It resembled the stew I used to eat in my childhood in a small town of Korea. Memories were falling upon me. My mother made a few different kinds of doenjang jjigae and this one with beef became my absolute favorite.

Although I am a huge fan of using anchovies to make stock as a base for many doenjang jjigae, this recipe doesn’t require any sea creatures to create the deep flavor that we long for. A great news for the anchovy haters!

There are couple of tips to achieve the best flavor. One; use rice starch water (쌀뜨물, ssalttemool) which you will see how to make it so easily. Two; use any cut of beef that has good marbling.

If you have these two tips in mind, you can create (even with commercially made doenjang) one of the most comforting stew that has been loved by millions of Koreans. Isn’t that exciting?


First thing first. You have to eat your stew with rice. Prepare your rice by rinsing just once. Discard the first rinsed water.


With your hand, swoosh your rice around rapidly for 20 seconds. This action removes the starch coating from the rice.


Pour 2 1/2 cups of water and swirl around. you will see the water becoming milky-like. This is the rice starch water (쌀뜨물, ssalttemool).  A great stock base to give the stew more in-depth flavor.


Reserve the the starch water.

You can continue rinse your rice a couple more times and cook them by your usual method.


Here is beautiful thinly sliced beef sirloin with lots of marbling. Any cut that is suitable for soups & stew is acceptable as long as it has some visible fat. Fat makes the flavor!


Now here are the rest of the proactive members in our doenjang jjigae club. Soybean paste, red chili paste, onion, potato, zucchini, shitake mushrooms, tofu, green chili, and green onion.


Slice beef into big chunks.


Pour about 1/2 cup of rice starch water in a small stew pot. If you have the Korean style stone pot, use it by all means. For some reason I found the stew made in the stone pot is more delicious. I can’t scientifically prove it though.


Using a spoon smear your doenjang paste against the wall of your pot to break down. Make sure you smear all the big chunks of paste sinking to the bottom.


Add a tiny bit, about 1 tsp, of Korean chili paste (gochujang) to the pot.


Pour the rest of the rice starch water and mix.


Add your lovely beef, and bring the pot over med-high heat to boil.


Cut up your vegetables into bite sizes.


When the stew is boiling add onions, potatoes, and mushrooms into the pot.


Add finely minced garlic. Continue to boil for 2 minutes.


Add the zucchinis, sliced green chilies, and tofu slices.


You will see some scums floating on top. If that bothers you, scoop them out with a spoon.


This is an optional but if you like a little spicy kick to the stew, add a tiny bit of Korean red chili flakes and stir.

Now your stew is ready to serve. It is boiling hot so pay a full caution when you bring the pot to the table.

Sharing doenjang jjigae in one pot with someone you love sitting across from each other on the table is something that we Koreans love to do.

As I was growing up, when my mother put a stew like this on the table, we dipped our spoons in the same pot to share together. There always was one kid in my family who would eat the beef only. I won’t to tell you who that kid was but I can recollect the funny conversation we had together.

Sharing a same stew pot is perhaps not the most hygienic table manner from the modern standard but it created some great family binding experiences.

I was sitting alone in my big dining table all by myself to enjoy this divine stew as a lunch, I suddenly thought of my parent’s small-humble-lacquered-round-wooden Korean table they used to feed their 5 children with. It must have been very crammed space for a family of seven, but as far as I can remember… I can only remember how delicious my mother’s food was.

Happy November!






Beef Doenjang Jjigae

Beef Doenjang Jjigae, Korean soy bean paste stew with beef
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 cups rice starch water *
  • 2 tablespoon Korean soybean paste, doenjang
  • 1 teaspoon Korean chili paste, gochujang
  • ¼ lb (100g) thinly sliced marbled beef with some fat attached, cut into big bite size
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 small yukon potato, diced
  • 3-4 small shitake mushroom, stem removed and diced
  • ½ small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon Korean chili flakes, optional
  • 1 green chili, sliced
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  1. Pour ½ cup of rice starch water in to a small pot. Smear the soybean paste to breakdown all the big chunks of the paste to incorporate with the water. Add the Korean chili paste in a same manner. Add the rest of the rice starch water to the pot and mix well.
  2. Add the the beef slices and bring the pot over med-high heat to boil.
  3. What the stock is boiling add the onion, potato, mushroom and continue to boil for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini, tofu and garlic, green chili. Add the red chili flakes at this stage if you wish. When the potatoes and zucchinis are tender, remove the pot from heat and sprinkle green onions.
  5. Serve hot with rice. Be careful! It is boiling hot.
  6. * To make rice starch water: Rinse rice once and discard the water. Swoosh the rice in a bowl with your hand for 20 seconds and add the 2½ cup of water to the bowl. Swirl around and you will see milky water. Reserve the milky water to use as a stock base. Continue rinsing the rice couple more times and cook rice in a usual way to serve.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: about 2-4

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann Mah November 2, 2012 at 11:12 pm

How wonderful to be transported back in time, just by the smell and taste of a beloved food. Thanks for a lovely post, Holly! I felt like I was right there with you at your family’s table.


kitchenriffs November 3, 2012 at 12:10 am

Isn’t it interesting how food memories stay with us? There are certain flavors or dishes that when I taste them again – or even think about them – bring back vivid, detailed memories of a particular experience. Anyway, nice looking dish! I like the idea of making a stock with anchovies (even though you decided not to this time) – something I’ll have to try. And this stew has such nice flavors in it! I need to find some Korean chili flakes and see how they compare with the ones I normally use!


L e n a November 3, 2012 at 1:13 am

i am dying over here. looks so delicious.
you didn’t wipe off the overflow on the pot, which is authentic and makes it even more mouth watering. :)


Susan November 3, 2012 at 5:22 am

I want to try this recipe. We went to our favorite Korean Restaurant couple weeks ago and my daughter wanted to eat a spicy soup. She chose spicy beef soup. It had pieces of beef, glass noodles, egg, bean sprout, and green onions or leeks, and this brown stem vegetable. It was sooo good. Do you have a recipe for this?


cooking.eating.carousing. November 3, 2012 at 9:54 am

Hi Susan, this sounds very similar to yukgaejang to me. The brown stems are kosari, it’s a type of korean fernbrake (I cooked yukgaejang previously but couldn’t find kosari in my local korean grocery). Google it and see if that’s what you’re after. I don’t think Holly has that recipe, all the more reason to beg her to do one……


Holly November 3, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Yes, I think it is Yukgaejang. It is quite spicy though, not for everyone. I used to eat often but not so much these day. I better make it soon.


Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom November 3, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Holly, this looks amazing!!! Thank you for sharing this!


Serena November 4, 2012 at 12:33 am

One of my favorite friggin soups!! Second to Kimchijigae! Can’t wait to try this out in my clay pot!


Laura November 4, 2012 at 11:56 am

Is the soybean paste something I could find in an Asian market with a decent Korean section? This looks like something I must try!


Holly November 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm

You should be able to find the paste easily if the store has decent Korean section. Hope you get to give it a try.


Laura November 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Thanks I will. I was worried when you said yours was homemade that maybe it had to be homemade. :)


Hyosun Ro November 5, 2012 at 12:10 am

Holly – Nothing beats homemade doenjang. I’ve been blessed with my mother-in-law’s doenjang all these years. Your mouth-watering jjigae is making me hungry!


Holly November 5, 2012 at 7:22 am

Hyosun, you are so lucky to have your mother-in-law’s doenjang every year. Nothing beats homemade especially when is comes to the doenjang. I would love to make my own someday but hesitant to start by knowing how much work it is involved.


Jess November 5, 2012 at 2:48 am

I always get nostalgic with food. for me, food is so much more then an energy source!

i loved your post with the story of your family and the pics are great. i am now craving this stew like crazy…i have all the ingredients, just need a good piece of beef!


Holly November 5, 2012 at 7:19 am

Thanks Jess. I hope you get to try this stew with beef. It is so Korean!


Kocinera November 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm

This looks so amazing! And those photos of the marbled beef are making me really hungry. :D I’d love to give this stew a try, especially now as it’s starting to get cold–it looks so hearty and comforting. Yum!


Christina C November 15, 2012 at 4:57 am

This post made me so happy. Doenjang Jigae is my all time favorite soup and I can never get it exactly like my mom or my favorite Korean restaurant. I never thought to use the rice water. Thank you so much. This soup brings memories of being a kid and my mom making me this soup whenever I was feeling sad, bad, or it was just plain out.

I can’t wait to try this!!!

I’m also really excited to find your site. I grew up on delicious homecooked Korean food and I could eat it everyday.


Holly November 15, 2012 at 8:20 am

Hi Christina, I am glad that you found my site, too. Hope this stew come close to your mom’s. Growing up with Korean food myself, I can’t give up doenjang jjigae! Thanks for the comment.


Lucy L November 15, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I’m going to buy a stone pot because it’s Holly-approved to make better tasting stews! hehehe. I love doenjang stews after I tried your other doenjang recipe!!


Holly November 15, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Great, Lucy! If you liked the other doenjang stew, you will like this one, too. The stone pot keeps the stew hot longer. Have fun making this stew.


Stacey December 1, 2012 at 3:10 am

This looks amazing :) was so happy to stumble on your blog. I used to teach English in Korea and now that I’m back in the UK, I miss the food (and the country) so much. The doenjang jjigae was my favourite dish, I will definitely try this recipe. Thanks! :) x


Charles December 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Beautiful post, and beautifully described memories of this food. Thank you so much!


Sandra's Easy Cooking February 16, 2013 at 3:40 am

What a lovely post, Holly! I enjoyed reading as much as looking at those mouthwatering pictures…they are like from magazine cover! Also delicious recipe.


Susan February 18, 2013 at 8:10 pm

I made this tonight and all I can say is “hello Korean stew, you are going to be a regular part of our dinner meals from now on!!” Delicious!


may May 10, 2013 at 7:01 pm

hi Holly i can’t find zucchini in malaysia
i don’t know zucchini is what kind of
fruit can u tell me pls.


Holly May 11, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Yes, there are lots of zucchinis in Malaysia. It looks similar to cucumbers without the bumpy texture on the skin. Zucchinis are vegetable, not fruit.


Christian July 29, 2014 at 10:34 am

With all respect – technically it’s a fruit. (Anything with seeds is considered a fruit.) Veggies are stems, leaves & roots. (My apologies for the correction.)


Diana May 17, 2013 at 3:41 pm

this looks delicious! I’ve been looking for this meat, what is it called in Korean? I can never find it at the Korean supermarket.


Holly May 19, 2013 at 11:18 pm

I used sirloin with lots of marbling. Chadolbaggi is particular name of the beef cut for this dish but might be hard to find


Aaron September 21, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Just made this for the first time tonight. It turned out amazing. A spiritual experience for sure!

Thank you!


Caroline January 6, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Do you know where I can buy wheat free soy bean paste? I looked online but cannot tell if the products at are wheat free.


Holly January 6, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Look for organic pastes. H-mart Sometimes carry them.


Christian July 29, 2014 at 10:24 am

Thank you for such a wonderful site and how you simplified everything. I am an American male and I LOVE Doenjang Jjigae. This recipe (although disliked by my wife) will grace my table from now on.
Do you have a recipe for how to make our own Doenjang?
-A happy belly


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