A Year to Learn Korean Cooking: Doenjang Jjigae

Today let’s learn about cooking doenjang jjigae at home! This stew is one of the most popular dishes in Korean cuisine.

About the South of Seoul “A Year to Learn Korean Cooking’ Series

Many of us live in South Korea for only a year. However, the time flies past faster than we can imagine. At South of Seoul, we decided to create a simple series that will offer 2-4 dishes to learn each month so that when you leave South Korea you have a slew of new dishes you feel comfortable making anywhere.

This series is a collaboration with Kimchi Rednecks. In 2020 they created the first blog in this series Online Resources for Learning to Cook Korean Food. These two love to have adventures in the kitchen and share the results with their community. Be sure to follow Kimchi Rednecks on YouTube for other great videos about living life in South Korea.

cooking doenjang jjigae
Doenjang Jjigae

About Doenjang Jjigae

Doenjang Jjigae (된장찌개) or soybean paste stew is one of the most popular of the traditional Korean dishes. The main ingredient is doenjang or fermented soybean paste. However, this stew is not the same as doenjang-guk (soybean paste soup) because it is much thicker with more ingredients. In addition, many people also compare this to Japanese miso soup, but the flavor is quite different with doenjang giving a more intense, savory flavor.

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doenjang paste
Doenjang Paste

Doenjang (된장) is a staple in Korean kitchens (see our blog on Korean pantry staples for more information). Often used in many dips, soups and stews in Korean cuisine because it has a deep earthy, nutty flavor and is full of umami. While many Koreans still make the fermented soybean paste at home (this process takes about a year), most buy the ones available in the market for quick and easy preparation.

Ttukbaegi pot
Ttukbaegi pot

Typically, chefs make doenjang jjigae in a ttukbaegi (earthenware pot) and serve steamed rice and banchan (side dishes) alongside it. The most common ingredients for doenjang jjigae are doenjang, dried anchovies, white radish, Korean chilli pepper, minced garlic, water, onions, green onions, potato, zucchini, and medium-firm tofu. However, there are other variations which use other meats (crab, beef brisket, clam, etc.). In addition, this dish can easily be made into a vegetarian dish and there are recipes available to show you how.

Often when you are enjoying a Korean barbecue meal, restaurants serve doenjang jjigae as it is the perfect complement to the grilled meats.

Biggest Hurdle In Making Doenjang Jjigae

The anchovy stock is not difficult to make if you choose to do so. If you make your own stock, buy some dashi bags to use (bags for cooking stocks to easily remove ingredients). However, you can also buy premade soup stock bags that you simply drop in water and boil to make your stock. If you choose not to make the anchovy stock, you can also use vegetable stock and it still tastes fantastic. This dish is one of the easiest to make and enjoy.

Some people may find the smell of the doenjang unpleasant. Just like some folks do not enjoy the smell of aged cheese, some may not enjoy the smell of aged soybeans. The smells have many similarities.

Three Recommended Doenjang Jjigae Cooking Videos to Watch

Since this is Korean comfort food, it is incredibly easy to find this dish in Korean restaurants. But cooking doenjang jjigae at home is quick, easy, and satisfying to make. Consequently, we eat this year round as it is not a heavy stew and we can easily change up variations if we want.

Watch these three versions of doenjang jjigae and then make one of your own!

Korean American Doenjang Jjigae

Seonkyoung Longest’s Doenjang Jjigae

Korean Doenjang Jjigae

Paik’s Cuisine Doenjang Jjigae

Americans in Korea Doenjang Jjigae

KimchiRednecks’ Doenjang Jjigae

Let Us Know How It Turns Out

When you make doenjang jjigae for the first time at home, be sure to leave a comment  and let us know how it turned out! Also, if you live in Pyeongtaek you can even share your success (or failure) with us in the Pyeongtaek Food & Fun Facebook group.

Read more in our Year to Learn Korean Cooking Series

A year to learn Korean cooking