Doenjang Jjigae, the ultimate Korean comfort

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
 
Ingredients
  • 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.
Instructions
  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

 

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Comments

  1. says

    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. 

  2. Cptfitz says

    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!

  3. Hyosun Ro says

    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. 

  4. S. Z. says

    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.

  5. beyondkimchee says

    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.

  6. beyondkimchee says

    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.

  7. beyondkimchee says

    @a6366f025ddce6dd53bdcb8a1d6ccbeb
    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…

  8. beyondkimchee says

    Sophia
    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.

  9. beyondkimchee says

    @ff5a7342455262aefc19b0703b5a1649
    Yes, cook more for your parents. Sharing food with your loved ones is like sharing your heart. It will bring precious memories.

  10. says

    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!

  11. says

    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.

  12. Carloline says

    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.
     
    Thanks.
     
    Caroline

  13. beyondkimchee says

    @e5ff742b14eddf1a5cd63be711b937b1
    Hi Caroline
    yes, you can omit the chili flakes and fresh chilies, too. Hope you nephew would enjoy the stew you made.

  14. says

    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.

  15. beyondkimchee says

    @c01c21604566414f02d0c6fc1bbc8346
    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.

  16. Duncan says

    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
    Kuantan

  17. beyondkimchee says

    @8d9f8fcf78188c19595f52aa36ac77b0
    Hi Duncan
    Yes, we are excited to have your young family in our home as well. Have a safe drive to KL.

  18. Laure says

    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?

  19. beyondkimchee says

    @c46dca1d3f64dbbcb816542492a27df4
    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.

  20. Nicole says

    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

  21. beyondkimchee says

    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.

  22. LucyL says

    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!  

  23. LucyL says

    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.

    • Holly says

      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.

  24. JazzySister says

    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!

  25. Leah says

    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 says

      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.

  26. mintz says

    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-

  27. says

    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 says

      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.

  28. says

    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.

  29. Ivonne says

    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!

  30. says

    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.

  31. KimMe says

    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.

  32. Shadia says

    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.

    • says

      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.

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