Doenjang Jjigae (Korean Soybean Paste Stew)

Doenjang jjigae is a stew made with fermented soy bean paste, doenjang. Tofu is typically added along with some vegetables. It is one of the most representative dishes of everyday home-cooked Korean meals. Doenjang is an essential part of the Korean cuisine, and every Korean home has it all year around. Its deep rich flavor is created by several months of fermentation and aging. Doenjang is traditionally homemade, but there are many high quality commercial versions available in Korean grocery stores. This hearty stew is my husband’s all-time favorite meal and my go-to dish when I want to make a quick satisfying meal. The distinct aroma of sizzling doenjang makes my mouth water every time I make this dish.

Ingredients:
9 oz tofu
1/2 medium zucchini (mushrooms and potatoes can be added if desired)
1/2 small onion
2 oz pork belly, shoulder, or loin (or use beef, clams or shrimp if desired)
1 chili pepper (green or red)
1 scallion
2 tablespoons Korean soybean paste (doenjang)
1 teaspoon Korean chili pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 cups of anchovy broth or water*
(*Use the water used to rinse rice, ssal ddeum mul for jjigae/stew or anchovy broth. For anchovy broth, boil about 7 or 8 medium dry anchovies and 1 3-inch square dried kelp in 3 cups of water for 10 minutes.) 


Cut the tofu and zucchini into about 1-inch cubes. Thinly slice the onion and pepper. Roughly chop the scallion. Slice the meat into thin strips.

Preheat a small pot with a little bit of oil. Sauté the meat, soybean paste, chili pepper flakes, and garlic over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the water (or anchovy broth) and stir well to dissolve the soy bean paste. Cover and boil over medium high heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onion, tofu, zucchini, and chili pepper. Boil for an additional 10 minutes. Throw in the scallion with 2 minutes remaining.

Serve with rice while it is still bubbling from the heat.

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Comments

  1. This will be one of my first thing to eat when I visit Korea.
    It’s been 15 years I haven’t been to Korea… and this June, I will be there.
    Any tips? Especially great places to eat?
    I am half Korean, and unfortunately forgot how to speak Korean since 8 years old…

  2. Thanks for stopping by. That’s nice you get to go to Korea! There are so many great places to eat everywhere. Try the places that specialize in a particular type of food, like stews (doenjang jjigae, sundubu (soft tofu) jjigae), Chuncheon dakgalbi (if you like chicken and spicy food), nakji bokkeum (stir-fried octopus), etc. Also, check out ZenKimchi Korean Food Journal and SeoulEats for English information about restaurants in Seoul. SeriousEats has a post on “Snapshots from South Korea” which has a lot of information too. Hope this helps. I will let you know if I can think of anything else before you leave.

  3. Thanks for the tips, I will eat anything good in Korea. So I’m open to any suggestions. Great websites, I will definitely make a lot of memos before I go.

    Thank God I have my mum to take me around. She’s Korean… She used to a pop singer in the 80’s. Shin Yu Giong. I don’t know if you’d know her. :)

  4. I really like your blog. Thank you. I’m subscribing to it now.

    Mi-ae Choi

  5. Mi-ae, thanks for visiting and subscribing! Hope you try some of my recipes and let me know how they turn out for you.

  6. This is all Korean comfort food that I can’t live without although my hubby is not so fond of the smell. :P
    Thanks for sharing. Looks great!

  7. Thanks for checking out my blog! I love doenjang jjigae too. Hope one day your husband will acquire the taste and enjoy the aroma of doenjang.

  8. I was just looking around and had two questions regarding this recipe. I’m new to using tofu and wanted to know whether you need to pres it to remove excess moisture before using it in this dish?

    and also if your using salted anchovy sauce, how much do you use when making this dish? (bought the Korean sauce after checking out a different website but never got a chance to use it)

  9. Toni – Thank you for checking out my recipe.
    Regarding your questions, you do not need to press water out of tofu since it will be cooked in liquid anyway. You would want to remove excess water if, for example, it is to be pan fried in oil. If it is to be used in the drier dish such as Korean dumplings(mandu), you would need to squeeze out as much water as possible.

    Anchovy sauce is quite salty and pungent, so if you want to use it in this dish, use a small amount like one or two teaspoons, depending on how salty your Doenjang (fermented bean paste) is.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. I would also love to hear how it turns out for you if you make this dish.

  10. Made the dish this past week, and I am with your husband on this one . . . I love it too. Never had a need to stock tofu but now plan on having it around just for this dish (as well as it being a great source of iron).

    Made it exact with potatoes and leftover chicken (goes great with the rice, so filling). I can see myself making this dish once every 3 months. Thank you for the fast reply and the recipe.

  11. Anonymous says:

    thanks for sharing this recipe! i actually would like to make the seafood version of this stew.. would i still use meat in the stew? also, wad kind of seafood can i include in?

    thanks for your help! :)

    LO

  12. No, you don’t have to use meat in the seafood version, but you can if you want. It’s not uncommon to add meat to seafood doenjang jjigae. It’s a matter of preference. Regarding your second question, any type of seafood can be added. The typical ones are clams, mussels, shrimp, squid, and oysters. But you can use any one or combination of them. My family loves the seafood version too. Please let me know how it turns out for you. Thanks for trying my recipe.

  13. I was so excited when I found your blog last week. This will be my first recipe, the dish I always get at our favorite Korean restaurant here in Salt Lake. Thanks so much for all the recipes and advice. Your photos are beautiful.

  14. Helena – Thank you very much for the nice words. It is really exciting to me to hear from someone like you who love Korean food and want to try my recipes. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  15. I make this a few days ago, instead of meat I place seafood with it. It came out really good too. I realize I forget to post a comment here. Sorry this comment is a little late, but still would like to let you know this is a great recipe. I enjoy all your recipe keep up with this page.

  16. Thank you, mskutin! Seafood is common in doenjang jjigae too. I am glad it turned out well for you. Thanks for letting me know and Happy New Year!

  17. This looks so delicious! I recently made this with some watercress it was so good. Thanks for sharing.

  18. is the tofu the silken or firm?

  19. You can use silken tofu too, but the classic for this stew is firm tofu. Korean firm tofu usually has two types, “soft” for stews and “firm” for pan frying. But you can use either one with no significant difference in the results.It’s a matter of preference.

  20. That looks so simple and delicious! I have some doenjang at home but I didn’t know what to do with it, but now I do. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll try it out soon. And I love your blog too! :)

  21. Fern@tofoodwithlove – Thank you! Let me know how it turns out. Enjoy!

  22. Hi Hyosun, I just made this last night and it’s super delicious! My husband said it tasted really authentic, and that we don’t have to eat at Korean restaurants anymore :)

  23. Thank you, Fern. You’re awesome!

  24. making this now!!! yum!!!!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Hyosun, this is one of my favorite Korean dishes. Can you give me a recommendation for the brand(s) of Doenjang that you think are best?
    Thanks.

    Courtney

  26. I just made this as a vegetarian version using only tofu and it tastes amazing! What a great recipe! Thank you so much for posting it.

  27. Thank you for sharing this wonderful and traditional stew!

  28. Hi thank you for your recipe! What type or cut of pork and beef do you use? The pork photo looks on the fattier side….is it from a Korean market?

    • I usually use fatty cut of pork such as belly or shoulder, but it’s a matter of personal taste. Fat adds rich flavor though. I think the photo was pork belly from a Korean market. Beef chuck or any other cheap cut with some fat would be great for stews. I also updated the ingredient list to reflect this. Thanks!

  29. Omg. It turned out so good! I have been trying so many different ways of making this but couldn’t quite capture the depth of flavor it needs to have. The key was in the anchovy broth, which I had been making the wrong way this whole time! The stew was deep while being 쉬원해. I am going to make a whole pot of anchovy broth!!!! Thank you so much for sharing your family recipe with us.

    • I’m very happy to hear that. Yes, Anchovy broth makes a big difference. Thank you for using my recipe and letting me know how it turned out for you.

  30. How well does this soup hold up? Can you store it or freeze it, or is it a hot off the stove soup?

    • Sorry about the late reply. I’ve been out of town with limited internet access. Yes, it is a hot off the stove soup. But, it will store well in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. I wouldn’t recommend freezing. Thanks!

  31. Hello. I just made this for my mom to eat tomorrow and turned out amazing. Better than the version most restaurants here in San Diego make. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes.

  32. Thank you so much for the recipe :)
    I would like to ask, when using seafood, at what point should one add it? I want to use shrimp but they cook so fast so it feels like they should be added towards the end…

  33. I just made this and am about to eat it for lunch right now. Turned out really good. I’ve tried making doenjang jjigae w/ different brands and varying the amount of paste added to the stew, but your recipe is the one I like best so far. The broth tasted light and not too salty but somehow had depth to it. Maybe sauteing the doenjang made the difference. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    - Cam

  34. Hi Hyosun, I am thinking of cooking this stew for a group of friends. Could you advise on how many this recipe serves? Also I only have small anchovies where I live, would you be able to let me know in weight how much I should use to make the broth? Thanks so much!

  35. How do I subscribe to your blog

  36. Hi! My grandma used to use this beef for dwenjang jjigae, it was sogogi but I don’t know what kind it is or the name and I can never find it in Hmart. It has bones in it too and they were bite size pieces. Could you have any idea what it could be? I know it’s not pork. Thanks!

  37. I love you site. Can you tell what brand of ttengchang you use? Thank-you.

    • Thank you, Josehpine! Right now I use Q-rapha brand which is a local brand in the Washington DC area. Before that I was using what my mother-in-law made at home. Try to look for locally made home-style doenjang your local Korean markets offer if possible. Otherwise, click on the Ingredients tab above and see the photo of one of the popular doenjang brands in Korea. Cheers!

  38. Hi, I’ve made this a couple of times and it’s great! This round I used beef instead of pork and the meat turns out a bit tough. Any tips on how to keep the beef soft?

    Thanks!

    • Cut the meat thiner, boil longer over lower heat (medium), or use tender beef. Hope this helps. Thanks for using my recipe!

  39. Shaun Holyoak says:

    I made this for the first time today and it was delicious!! The flavor is so interesting and complex and it was just the right amount of spicy. Thanks for all these amazing recipes! I’m completely obsessed.

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