This doenjang marinated pork is another great option for your Korean BBQ. The salty, savory doenjang adds a deep umami flavor to the pork without overpowering it.
This doenjang (된장) marinated pork is another great option for your Korean BBQ. The marinade is quick to put together as long as you have doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste. Doenjang gives the pork delicious savory flavors.
No doubt the pork dish marinated in a spicy gochujang sauce — jeyuk bokkeum (dwaeji bulgogi ) is more popular these days. But this preparation, which is also known as maekjeok (맥적), dates back to early Korean history long before chili peppers were introduced to Korea. Maek refers to people of Goguryeo (고구려), one of the three ancient Kingdoms, and jeok means skewered meat.
Maekjeok evolved over time, and it’s believed to be the origin of today’s bulgogi. Over 1000 years later during Joseon Dynasty, it was served in Royal Court as seen in the famous Korean drama Daejanggeum (대장금), if you watched it.
Pork butt (aka Boston butt) or pork shoulder, known as moksal (목살) in Korean, is the best cut of meat for this dish. It’s a tender, lean cut that’s flavorful. Pork loin works well too.
You can find pre-sliced pork at Korean markets. If slicing the meat at home, partially freeze it for about an hour, depending on the thickness of your meat, before slicing.
The salty, savory doenjang adds a deep umami flavor to the pork without overpowering it. I added a little bit of acidity in the marinade to brighten the doenjang taste and bring the flavors together. If available, Korean plum extract (maesilcheong, 매실청) works wonderfully with this marinade, adding fruity sweetness to balance out the strong taste of doenjang.
The marinade can be easily doubled.
What to serve with
This doenjang flavored pork pairs well with buchu (garlic chives) and/or minari (water dropwort). You can serve the on a bed of raw or lightly stir-fried buchu and/or minari. The vegetables are in season during warm months and can be found in Korean markets.
Serve with red or green leaf lettuce and/or kkaennip (perilla leaves), in which to wrap the meat, along with ssamjang.
More pork recipes
Also see 10 Korean BBQ Recipes
Maekjeok (Doenjang Marinated Pork)Main Course
- 1 pound pork (Boston butt or loin), thinly sliced (about 1/4-inch thick)
For the marinade:
- 1.5 tablespoons doenjang, 된장, Korean fermented soybean paste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine or mirin or other white wine
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey, rice syrup (jocheong, 조청), or oligo dang (올리고당) or Maesil cheong (매실청), green plum extract
- 2 tablespoons grated onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- pepper to taste
- 4 ounces buchu garlic chives, (or mix with minari)
- If unavailable, substitute with 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- salt to taste
- oil for stir-frying
For the wraps:
- 1 or 2 heads of red or green leaf lettuce
- 10 to 15 perilla leaves (kkaennip, 깻잎) - optional
- crown daisy (ssukgat, 쑥갓) - optional
Ssamjang (sauce for wraps) - mix everything well
- 1 tablespoon gochujang, Korean red chili pepper paste
- 2 tablespoons doenjang, Korean soybean paste or to taste
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- If the sauce is too thick, use a tablespoon of water or soda to thin it.
- Thinly slice the meat (about 1/4-inch thick), if not pre-sliced.
- Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- Add the meat, and mix well until evenly coated. Marinate at least for 30 minutes.
- Cut the optional vegetables into 2 - 3 inch lengths. Heat a skillet with a tablespoon of oil, and briefly stir-fry the vegetables until slightly wilted. Salt to taste. Transfer to a plate.
- Heat a grill pan or a skillet over medium high heat and add the pork slices. Immediately lower the heat to medium. The marinade will burn if the heat is too high. Cook until the pork is cooked through and slightly caramelized, one to two minutes each side. Turn over a couple of times to prevent the marinade from burning.
- Serve on a bed of the optional stir-fried vegetables along with the vegetables for the wraps and ssamjang.
This recipe was originally posted in June 2014. I’ve updated it here with new photos and more information.