Doenjang Jjigae, the ultimate Korean comfort

by Beyond Kimchee on November 18, 2011 · 59 comments

Doenjang Jjigae
Doenjang Jjigae (Korean soybean paste stew) reminds me of my father.

As I recollect, he loved this stew.

My father passed away almost 6 years ago by car accident. And I didn’t even get to say good-bye to him. After he is gone I realized that I never had a chance to serve this stew for him.
In fact I never got a chance to cook anything for him.
And that hurts me…, and brings me to tears. I know he would have enjoyed this stew very, very much.My mother used fix this stew quite often just for him.
Of course her Doenjang paste is all home-made, and she has her secret to give this stew more depth. Nothing can’t beat the home-made.
But I personally don’t think you would go out and buy 50 lb bag of soy beans to make home-made Doenjang. So I will show you how to make this comforting stew with a store bought paste to taste just like Koren mothers would make.
There are several versions of Doenjang Jjigae and this, perhaps, is one of the basic ones.


First, let’s start with rice.
Why rice? You will find out soon.
Besides you gotta cook rice to eat with this stew anyway.

BTW I mixed white rice with brown rice, in case if you are wondering.

Rinse the rice once, just once okay?

Add a little bit of water and start tossing the rice rapidly, with swirling motions, for 30 seconds.
You will see the water turning into milk-ish.
Add about 2 cups of water to the rice and swirl around.

Drain to save this milk-ish water into a bowl, about 2 cups.
This is what we call, “ssal-tte-mool (쌀뜨물)”, the rice starch water.
This will enrich the stew.
Now go ahead rinse the rice a couple more times and cook by your usual way.

Here are our ingredients of the day.
Doenjang paste, Korean chili flakes, onion, zucchini, garlic, dried anchovies, sea kelp, mushroom, chilies, and Asian leek or green onion.
But I am missing one important thing…

This one, the tofu! I used soft tofu but you can use firm if you like. Cut into cubes.

Dice your onion,

and the same goes to zucchini…

Cut off the bottom from the enoki mushrooms. You can use any mushroom of your choice.

If you want to stick to the authentic style, use a stone pot. This small pot is about 1 quart size.
Bring to your heat source.

Toast your anchovies for 1 minute.
The reason is that most dried anchovies are stored in the fridge or freezer and they get damp, which means, fishy!
Toasting will remove the fishy smell.

Pour the rice starch water and add the dried sea kelp. Let them boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove our sea friends and discard them.

Add the Doenjang (soy bean) paste.
You need to mash them down to incorporate with stock. Whatever left in the mash, throw them back into the stock.
You can use coarse mash strainer for this job or use the back of a spoon and smash it to the pot.

Add onion and zucchini slices,

and chili flakes. Let it boil.

Add tofu and garlic.

Add chilies and boil for 2 minutes.

Lastly add mushroom and the Asian leek. Done!
Remove the pot from heat.

Hold your breath while you’re tip-toeing to carry this boiling pot to the table. It is hot!


Doenjang stew is voted #1 comfort stew among Korean men.
Do you have Korean male in your life?
Surprise him with this stew,

and he will adore you for the rest of your life.


Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Korean Soy Bean Paste Stew


Doenjang Jjigae
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 cups rice starch water*
  • 6-7 dried anchovies
  • 1 piece (3") dried sea kelp
  • 2 generous Tbsp Doenjang (soybean paste)
  • ½ package (4 oz) tofu, cut into 1" cubes
  • ½ onion diced
  • ½ zucchini diced
  • 1 tsp Korean chili flakes
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 1 green or red chili sliced
  • ½ package enoki mushrooms or one handful of any mushrooms sliced
  • ½ Asian leek or 1 green onion sliced
* rice starch water : rinse rice once with water and drain. Add a ½ cup of water again, toss and swirl around the rice for 30 seconds. You will see the water turning into milk-like. Add 2 cups of water and swirl to collect all the starch from the rice. Drain to save the starch water in a bowl.
  1. Bring small 1 qt stone or heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat. Toast the anchovies for 1 minute and pour the rice starch water to the pot. Add the sea kelp and bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the anchovies and sea kelp, discard them.
  2. Using a coarse mesh strainer, mash the Doenjang paste into the pot so it gets incorporated with stock. Add onion, zucchini, chili flakes and let them boil. Add tofu, garlic, chili and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Lastly add Enoki mushrooms and green onion. Remove the pot from heat and serve hot with rice.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2


Get Free Email Updates!

Signup now and receive an email once I publish new content.

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Comment

Rate this recipe:  

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

leaf (the indolent cook) November 18, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Oh Holly, sorry to hear about your father. This makes me think, I must cook more for my parents when I see them. What a comforting stew this is – I can see why this could be the way to someone's heart!


Sophia November 18, 2011 at 9:55 pm

This stew moves me too, because it reminds me of my grandfather who passed away three years ago. I will always have the image of him slurping noisily at the stew, and us burping at the same time. 


Smoky Wok (Tastes of Home) November 19, 2011 at 12:12 am

I love doenjang jjigae, very comforting indeed – I'm sorry about your father…


Cptfitz November 19, 2011 at 6:19 am

I don't think this could look or sound more delicious! It brings back awesome memories of my childhood in Korea. Thanks for the recipe, I love your blog!


Hyosun Ro November 19, 2011 at 6:39 am

Holly – I am very sorry about your father. That's so sad. You're right this is no. 1 comfort food for Koreans, especially men. This makes me hungry for it, and I am just having my first cup of morning coffee. 


S. Z. November 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Hollly, this is a touching post. I've loved your blog ever since I knew about it. I love you even more now that you are finally doing a doenjang jjigae post, because I've always wanted to make one, but never could. Maybe it's the rice starch water that was missing.


beyondkimchee November 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm

S. Z.
Thanks for the comment.Yes, the rice starch water will thicken the stew quite nicely and brings deeper flavor, too. Give it a try and let me know how it turned out.


beyondkimchee November 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Hyosun Ro
Thanks, Hyosun! A pot of Doenjang Jjigae and a grilled fish is one of the most common humble dinner and I often miss that. Hope you enjoyed your coffee and had a great Saturday morning.


beyondkimchee November 19, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Thanks. Yes, I do remember, too, of the smell of Doenjang Jjigae in my house or my friends house as a child. It was the natural alarm for us that the dinner is almost ready. I love the smell…


beyondkimchee November 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Hi Sophia, I am sorry about your grandfather.
Your description of how your grandfather enjoyed the stew was so right! Many Korean men, especially older generation, would do that. My father didn't burp but he did slurp his soup or stew though.


beyondkimchee November 19, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Yes, cook more for your parents. Sharing food with your loved ones is like sharing your heart. It will bring precious memories.


Purabi Naha November 19, 2011 at 6:36 pm

I love Korean food and I am really happy to have bumped upon your blog today!! Loved this jijigae recipe. Following you now. I would love your visit to my blog on Indian/Hong Kong food!


Bee November 20, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Your blog is something I was looking for – detailed instructions on how to make Korean everyday food. I am currently living in Seoul and want to learn more about Korean home cooking before we move again. Thanks for all the tips and recipes! Well come here more often.


Shuhan November 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm

wow definitely looks like comfort food. any kind of stew or soup bubbling in a hot claypot is heaven.


Carloline November 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Hi Holly
Thank you for the recipe. Iam going to cook this for dinner. Will it be much different if I omit the chillie flake? Because my young nephew still could not take spicy food yet.


Jen November 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm

my five year old son loves this soup. i will use your recipe next time!


beyondkimchee November 20, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Hi Caroline
yes, you can omit the chili flakes and fresh chilies, too. Hope you nephew would enjoy the stew you made.


beyondkimchee November 20, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Wow, that is impressive. He's got some Korean factor in his taste bud.


Trang November 21, 2011 at 6:20 am

I love your blog. The recipes are clear and the photos are just too professional, like they are taken out of a cookbook.

I love any kind of Korean soup, especially during the kind of winter in the Midwest region of the U.S.


beyondkimchee November 21, 2011 at 6:56 am

Thanks Bee. You are welcome to my site anytime.


beyondkimchee November 21, 2011 at 7:03 am

Hi there
Thanks for visiting my blog. I am not so familiar in cooking with Indian ingredients so I am glad that I found your blog as well. Look forward to learn great Indian recipes from you.


Duncan November 22, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Hi Holly, this is Duncan from Kuantan. You have a beautiful blog and quite a talent for cooking. My wife is excited to be staying at your place this coming weekend! What a lovely idea to be doing this blog for your children – you can't go wrong when it comes to food. Have a look at my blog too:

Duncan In


beyondkimchee November 23, 2011 at 6:10 am

Hi Duncan
Yes, we are excited to have your young family in our home as well. Have a safe drive to KL.


beyondkimchee November 23, 2011 at 6:12 am

Hi Trang
Thanks for the compliments. Hope you can visit my site as often as you can.


Laure November 23, 2011 at 10:58 am

Hi Holly, I'd like to make this soup, but Doenjang paste is impossible to find where I live. Would miso be an acceptable substitution?


beyondkimchee November 23, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Hi! You can use miso but it will taste a little different. Generally Miso is milder than doenjang but you can look for miso that is stronger in flavor. Look for deep brown tone of miso rather than yellow.


Heol February 14, 2012 at 7:14 am


Nice Blog!
I like asian food and this recipe is simple.

Thank you


wildbutterfly26 March 1, 2012 at 1:14 am

this seem to be so good!


Nicole March 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm

This is lovely. I've actually never seen this bad with the starch of rice water… It's interesting! Soy bean paste soup is my favorite Korean soup! :) I don't doub that your father would be extremely proud of you and loved to call you his daughter!

I do think it's funny though that this stew is voted #1 among Korean men. I am half-Korean and my boyfriend is too, but he doesn't like this soup at all! Haha. I made some (for myself) and he tried it, but he stuck to his mother's yuk-gae-jang instead! :P


beyondkimchee March 1, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Ha ha! I know doenjang is not for everyone. Most Korean men (in Korea) loves doenjang stew. It truly is voted for #1 comforting stew for them to miss their mother's cooking even though their wives are great cooks.


Sarah March 18, 2012 at 1:02 am

I made this last night and it was delicious! Thanks so much for this recipe. 


beyondkimchee March 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Hi Sarah
I am glad that you liked the stew. Thanks for the comment.


LucyL March 20, 2012 at 3:13 am

I made this last night and added fresh clams to it and had it with rice & korean seaweed, it was sooo good! My bf loved this dish so much so I teased him and said he must be korean as this is a favourite dish amongst korean men hehe. Can't believe that doenjang paste is so tasty, we have a similar chinese doenjang paste which is sweeter and i use it to steam salmon and it's delish!  


beyondkimchee March 20, 2012 at 7:11 am

I had tried cooking salmon with miso but never with Chinese paste. Will it be similar?


LucyL March 22, 2012 at 2:29 am

yes, you can buy chinese doenjang it's called "min see". It's more pungent than miso and sweeter than doenjang so it tastes different to using miso. I've used miso for salmon too and it's not the same. You need around 1 teaspoon of min see mixed with a little water for 1 salmon steak.


Serena June 2, 2012 at 6:04 am

I made this without the anchovies and added Korean radish. This dish turned out excellent!


Pearl December 15, 2012 at 10:02 am

I have noticed there are seasoned and unseasoned paste. Is it okay to use the seasoned paste?


Holly December 15, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Hi Pearl
Is the “seasoned Paste” in the green container? if it is, then it contains some chili paste in it. So omit the chili paste in the recipe.


JazzySister December 27, 2012 at 2:10 am

I’ve recently developed an affinity for Korean dramas and one thing that stands out to me is the food!! – of all things…lol. This soup looks scrumptious! I will definitely try it which means time for another trip to the Asian market where I get odd looks when I go in knowing exactly what I’m looking for (African American woman tends to stand out…hahaha). Nevertheymind, the food is SO worth it!


Leah January 20, 2013 at 2:19 am

Thank you for the recipe and for sharing about your family. I too have the sense that your father would be proud. We have to imagine what our deceased elders who loved us would feel and say. They are still with us in significant ways.

Now, then. I finally made my first stew with your recipe, and I’ve just slurped it down with pride and delight, with sides of rice and kim (laver) that I toasted myself. I lament the wasteful packaging of pre-toasted kim!

I did make one change to the cooking method, that I want to share. I learned this from the world of fermentation, and it’s a technique that I think all true lovers of Korean culture, a culture devoted to healthfulness, would welcome, even though it changes the order of this traditional method.

The thing is that as a fermented product, doenjang and miso are alive. Doenjang offers more benefits alive than dead, but boiling kills it. So I skipped the early doenjang step and proceeded nearly to the end. Then I added the mushrooms and leeks (not green onions) (and clam meat, as a treat.). Then I drew a little liquid from the cooking pot, covered it, and TURNED OFF THE HEAT.

I put the bit of liquid in a small bowl and mashed the doenjang in it thoroughly. THEN I put the thinned doenjang back into the pot, stirred a little, poured it into my serving bowl (no stone pot here yet, alas!), and topped it with the green onions, which cook in the residual heat. I enjoyed knowing that that the stew still held the live cultures of the doenjang.

Thank you again for your wonderful recipe. I, in my own way, offered this first doenjang jjigae of mine to the memory of your dad.


Holly January 20, 2013 at 9:53 am

Hi Leah

Thank you so much for your comment and sharing the tip on adding the doenjang paste at the end. I remember reading an article about it in some Korean cookbook of fermented food. You are right, adding it at last will increase the benefit of getting the most of live culture of the paste. It also will bring the stronger flavor as well. Thanks for your kindness of offering this stew to the memory of my deceased father. I appreciate it.


Leah January 20, 2013 at 2:21 am

(oops – I didn’t use leeks, but the above describes when I would add them if I had used them.)


Leah January 30, 2013 at 12:36 pm

My 10 month old loved this stew. One of my childhood favorites!


mintz February 22, 2013 at 12:49 am

I’ve been having cravings for doenjang jjigae for so long! We do have Korean food in lots of places here, but doenjang jjigae is not found in the cheaper range food stalls. I had one at an authentic Korean restaurant once, but it’s expensive :(
Was watching 1박2일 members eating stew and suddenly thought of searching for the recipe. Such joy to find your posts!! ^^ I don’t really like to cook, but I think I’ll try your recipe soon! Thanks for the recipe :D

-from Singapore-


franco March 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I would like to try to make it but the problem is that I hate tofu. Any suggestion how to replace it with other thing?
Besides, in Italy we dont have enoki mushrooms, we have “porcini”. But I think it would be OK


Holly March 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm

You can omit the tofu. Porcini has its own strong flavor compared to other type of mushroom. You can use it, but if you can find button mushrooms or oyster mushrooms they would be better fit.


lumina vacuum food sealer bags April 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it
was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for first-time blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.


Ivonne August 3, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I just finished reading your recipe and I´m sure it is delicious, I really enjoyed the way you wrote down this recipe, your writting skills are very much enjoyable and your pictures, simply amazing, my boyfriend is mexican but im sure not only koreans but any men would be conforted by a soup like that!, keep up the amazing work!! Greetings from Mexico!


Ruth August 23, 2013 at 10:31 pm

My husband and I recently bought soybean paste and were looking for a recipe to use it. I made this soup following your instructions and my husband loved it. Thanks for all the details. I am looking forward to keep cooking from the recipes on your website.


Gloria November 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Instead of the dried anchovies can I use dashi powder?


Holly November 4, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Yes, you can.


KimMe November 19, 2013 at 5:26 am

The smell of doenjang jiggae was the most inviting I had ever experienced in Korea. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to fix it for my family.


Shadia May 4, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Hi holly thank you for the recipe, I want to make this for my whole family, so I’d need to triple the ingredients. However, I was wondering if I’d still need to add more anchovies or would it be enough.


Holly May 5, 2014 at 9:09 am

You don’t need to triple the amount of ancovies as long as your get the right amount of the stock. You might need to add a little more water, though.


Matt Wilson September 8, 2014 at 9:19 am

Wow, looks so delicious!


{ 4 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: