Korean Soul Food: Doenjang Jjigae



There’s nothing more comforting than hearing the chopping of vegetables with the smell of fragrant broth in the air for a Korean. I know a lot of people will identify with going back home after going to school/academy and stepping into the house with your mother busily preparing a nutritious dinner.

Doenjang jjigae is a soup with a base made from dissolving fermented bean paste into water or a broth, usually kelp and sardines, and is a staple in the Korean diet. Whether at home or outside in restaurants, doenjang jjigae can be found all over the place.
A variety of vegetables, such as zucchini, potato, onion, etc is added and the soup along with other seasonings such as light soy sauce, gochujang (red chili pepper paste) and gochugaru (chili pepper powder).
Basically, every household has their own version of this quintessential Korean comfort food, and I’m going to show you my own.

There are different versions of doenjang jjigae, but i’m a fan of bolder flavors so I add more doenjang (fermented bean paste) than others. This recipe will easily serve up to four people. If you live alone, no worries because Korean doenjang jjigae tastes better the next day anyways. I always make a big batch and eat it continually for a few days with other side-dishes.

The ingredients needed for this endeavor will include

For the broth
6 cups/900ml of water
4 pieces of dashima (konbu kelp)
5 large-ish dried sardines sans heads and guts
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons of doenjang
1 tablespoon of soju
1 tablespoon of hot chili pepper flakes

Other ingredients
1/2 onion, chopped
1 small potato, chopped
1/2 small zucchini, chopped
1 hot chili pepper, sliced thinly
Handful of white paengi mushrooms (a.k.a. enokitake mushrooms)
I didn’t have any tofu in the house but usually, doenjang jjigae has tofu in it. I highly recommend adding a pack into the broth.

Top with green onions.

Now, on with the cooking!

(1)DSC_0094 Dashima, also called konbu is a type of kelp used mainly for broths. For an extra-rich soup base I added four, but two will be fine.

(2)DSC_0095 De-head and de-gut your sardines. 

(3)DSC_0096 Put your sardines and kelp into a pot and let the ingredients seep for a good 10 to 15 minutes.

(4)DSC_0098 Crush ze garlic into a fine-ish paste. It’s okay if it’s a little coarse. 

(5)DSC_0099 Prep your other ingredients. Please use any other random vegetables you have in your fridge. Any kind of mushrooms work out great, as well as other root vegetables.

(6)DSC_0101 Our doenjang is a little darker in color than those found in the supermarket because it’s homemade.

(7)DSC_0103 Take out the dashima and boil the water in the pot until it boils. After five minutes, remove the sardines and add in your doenjang, chili pepper flakes, garlic, and soju. 

(8)DSC_0104 Throw in all the rest of the ingredients. Now at this time I realized my pot was much too full and it started to overflow, so I changed to a bigger pot. Please use a nice-sized pot. Don’t make the same mistake. I hate doing extra dishes blech. 

(9)DSC_0105 Remember your kelp? slice that up as well and add it into the broth. Boil until all the flavors meld together and the vegetables are soft. 

(10)DSC_0107 For those of you who like things spicy, please add the fresh chilies.

(11) DSC_0108 When the vegetables soften, throw in the paengi mushrooms. They cook in no time so make sure you add them in the end. 

(12)DSC_0115Top with fresh green onions, and enjoy it family-style with a variety of other side-dishes and main dishes. On this particular day I also had grilled meat. Doenjang jjigae is a staple menu enjoyed with grilled meat in any Korean BBQ restaurant.

I hope you enjoyed my recipe, good luck in the kitchen!

Until next time 🙂


One response to “Korean Soul Food: Doenjang Jjigae

  1. 핑백: Noodle Bar at Home (Feat. Korean Janchi Guksu) | yorimcha·

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