Monday, February 21, 2011

Doenjang jjigae (Korean bean paste and vegetable stew)

I don't know if any of you are as addicted to Maangchi's videos as I am.  In my opinion the whole world (outside Korea) owes Maangchi a round of applause for introducing us to so many Korean dishes.  This is one of them.  The video and recipe for it are here, and the dish comes together in not much longer than it takes to watch her make it.  My version is halved and veganized, but otherwise it's Maangchi's recipe:

Doenjang jjigae
Serves 2

1 small potato, cubed
1 cup zucchini or other vegetable (I used green pepper, but green beans would also be delicious), chopped
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 hot green chili
1 green onion
1 cup cubed soft tofu
2 tbsp doenjang (Korean soybean paste)
1 tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), optional
1/2 to 1 sheet nori (optional)

Put the cubed potato, green pepper or zucchini, onion, garlic, and chili into a small saucepan or, if you're fortunate enough to have one, a ceramic pot like Maangchi's, and add enough water just to barely cover.  Bring the mixture to a boil:

When it's hot, add the 2 tbsp doenjang:

Stir it in and continue to boil the stew, covered, until the potatoes are tender.  It will look like this:

Meanwhile, prepare the tofu and green onion:

Add them to the stew, along with the shredded nori, if using, and mix gently.  The original recipe calls for dried anchovies and a few shrimp, so if you want to replicate the taste of the sea--and it does add something nice to the dish; I'm sure traditionalists will say it's essential--feel free to use nori or experiment with konbu or wakame or the sea vegetable of your choice.  

Continue to cook until everything is heated through.  Maangchi smears a little Korean red pepper paste on to the completed dish like a condiment, but I added a dollop directly to the stew.  It's entirely optional but I liked the extra lick of fire...
While the stew is cooking, prepare a green salad, just greens and cucumber and a few green onions, along with a dressing made of:

1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp Korean hot pepper flakes
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Toss the dressing with the greens and sliced cucumber.  To assemble the dish, put some rice and stew in a large bowl.  What I was using for rice is a mixture of various rices and different grains, but rice or a rice-barley mix would be the real Korean way:

Add some salad:

And mix it all together (she really does this, and as mixing salad with the rest of the meal is something I also regularly do, I was pleased to copy the technique, but there's no rule that says you have to; the salad tastes very good on its own, as does the stew):

And enjoy!  The stew is a little like a very thick miso soup, though doenjang has a special robust fermented taste quite different from Japanese miso and a bit difficult to describe, but delicious. This one-pot dish can be ready in the time it takes to cook rice and is perfect for a winter supper after work.


  1. It's about two hours before I'll get to eat dinner but of course now I'm starving after reading your post. I love the way the tofu looks like it's soaked up the flavor from the stew, and has been transformed from bland to great. I'm partial to nori, but dulse does a nice job of adding a pleasant sea flavor to Asian dishes.

  2. As soon as I saw the title, I knew I was going to love this one! This has my name written all over it! I can't wait to try it.

  3. It looks so good! I've never heard about the videos before but I will make sure to check them out.Thanks for the tip!

  4. Really looks delicious! Wish you and Rose took dinner reservations.