Learn how to make delicious and comforting Korean Beef doenjang jjigae (soybean paste stew) in an authentic way. The step by step tutorials will guide you through.

Beef donajng jjigae is boiling in a Korean stone pot.

When you see a pot of hot boiling beef doenjang Jjigae on the table, it is a welcome sign to anyone who comes for a Korean meal. This traditional Korean soybean paste stew is so nostalgic and comforting.

A 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 doenjang paste is commonly used for making doenjang jjigae (Korean soybean paste stew) but it is also used to create a variety of dishes, including soybean paste glazed salmon and squid and shrimp stir-fry.

Homemade Korean Soy Bean Paste stored in a glass jar is showing its golden color.

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 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?

Rice Water

Rinse water with rice several times

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

Swirl around the rice with fingers to remove the starch coating.

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

Collect the milky rice water 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 water or rice starch water (쌀뜨물, ssalttemool).  A great stock base to give the stew more in-depth flavor.

Rice water is collected in a cup

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

Choice Of Beef

Thin slices of marbled beef will be used to make beef doenjang jjigae.

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!

How to make Beef Doenjang Jjigae (Soybean paste stew)

Ingredients for Korean beef soybean paste stew

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.

Well marbled beef is thinly sliced on a cutting board.

Slice beef into big chunks.

1. Prepare a stock

A tablespoonful of doenjang is about to go into rice water in a stone pot.

Pour about 1/2 cup of rice 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.

A spoon is smearing doenjang paste against wall of stone pot to mix with rice water.

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.

A tiny bit of Korean chili paste is added to the stock

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

Rice water is added to the doenjnag jjigae stock

Pour the rest of the rice water and mix.

Thin slices of beef is added to Korean soybean paste stock in a stone pot.

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

2. Add Other Ingredients

Vegetables and potato are cut up to small dices.

Cut up your vegetables into bite sizes: tofu, potato, zucchini, onion, mushroom.

A handful of potato is added to the doenjang stock in a stone pot.

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

3. Finishing Touch

A spoon of minced garlic is added to doenjang stew in a pot.

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

Zucchini and fresh chili are added to Korean soybean paste stew.

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

Tofu is added to Korean doenjang jjigae

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

A tiny bit of Korean chili flakes adds a gentle kick to doenjang jjigae.

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.

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 a 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.

Other Doenjang Recipes

A spoon is dishing up doenajng jjigae with beef and vegetables from the stone pot to show.
A spoon is dishing up doenajng jjigae with beef and vegetables from the stone pot to show.

Beef Doenjang Jjigae (Soybean Paste Stew)

Make delicious and comforting Korean Beef doenjang jjigae (soybean paste stew) in an authentic way. The step by step tutorials will guide you through.
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  • Pour 1/2 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.
  • Add the the beef slices and bring the pot over med-high heat to boil.
  • What the stock is boiling add the onion, potato, mushroom and continue to boil for 2 minutes.
  • 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.
  • Serve hot with rice. Be careful! It is boiling hot.


*To make rice water: Rinse rice once and discard the water. Swoosh the rice in a bowl with your hand for 20 seconds and add the 2 1/2 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.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @beyondkimchee on Instagram. I love to see your masterpiece.