Easy Doenjang Jjigae (Fermented Soybean Paste Stew)

Difficulty Easy

Delicious, savory, flavorful, and easy– Doenjang Jjigae (Fermented Soybean Paste Stew) is classic Korean comfort food. Make this 20-minute, mouthwatering, absolutely irresistible Korean stew at home!

What is Doenjang Jjigae?

If there’s one dish that defines Korean home cooking, it’s Doenjang Jjigae — a savory, hearty stew that’s flavored with Doenjang (fermented soybean paste).

Packed with tofu, meat, and various vegetables, the taste is deliciously savory and pungent from the umami-packed doenjang paste that thickens and flavors the stew.

So cozy, comforting, and absolutely delicious! I simply cannot resist a bubbling, jiggly pot of this cozy Korean stew!

As a bonus, it’s ridiculously simple to make at home. That’s why it’s classic Korean home cooking. Delicious AND easy — most Korean households make and eat Soybean Paste Stew regularly.

If you’re a fan of Korean dramas, you’ll routinely see people eating this dish. That shows you the popularity of Doenjang Jjigae. Everyone cooks and eats it!

Ingredients:

  • Doenjang. Korean fermented soybean paste. Can be found in a glass jar or plastic tub at the Korean market. Salty, umami-rich, vegan, and gluten-free. Use the best Doenjang or soybean paste you can find. The older and more fermented the Doenjang, the more pungent, rich, and deep the flavor. I recommend 100 day fermented Doenjang at the Korean market for best deep flavor.
  • Tofu. Medium firm to extra firm works best. If you like softer, be careful as it will fall apart easily.
  • Gochujang. Korean fermented chili paste. A little bit adds depth of flavor.
  • Soy Sauce. Adds umami depth and richness.
  • Onion + Garlic. The aromatics add so much flavor!
  • Pork Butt/Shoulder. Good flavor, not too fatty. Pork and doenjang complement each other so well! You can also sub with pork belly, pork loin, or pork ribs. Chicken or beef are also good substitutes.
  • Vegetables. Classic vegetables commonly found in Korean Soybean Paste Stew: potato and zucchini. Potato thickens the stew. Zucchini absorbs all that thick, stewy flavor. But feel free to rummage in the fridge. Squash, pumpkin, and sweet potato thicken the stew and add a mild sweetness. Shitake, enoki, or brown mushrooms add an earthy flavor. It’s also good with leftover bits of bean sprouts and napa and/or green cabbage. You could even add kale, carrots, Asian eggplant, and Brussels sprouts, too.
  • Chili Pepper. Although Doenjang Jjigae is not usually spicy, a sliced jalapeno or fresno chili adds a subtle spicy kick. For me, it’s an essential ingredient.

What is Doenjang?

Doenjang is Korean fermented soybean paste. A fermented food item, Doenjang is deeply and intensely flavorful.

Salty, savory, and full of umami depth — it’s the base of so many delicious Korean recipes. It’s also vegan and gluten-free, making this Korean staple easy to vegetarianize or veganize.

The older the Doenjang, the darker and more pungent it will be. I prefer dark, flavorful 100 day-old Doenjang for the best taste. But if you prefer milder, regular “Mat” Doenjang works great!

Instructions:

  1. Cook pork and onion. In a medium saucepan, cook pork and onion until the onion is slightly wilted. (It’s ok if the pork is still pink).
  2. Add hard vegetables (potato, squash, sweet potato), water, doenjang, gochujang, garlic, soy sauce, and bring to a boil. Cook until potatos are soft, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add soft vegetables (zucchini, cabbage) and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add tofu and chili pepper. Cook until tofu is heated through.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a sprinkle of fish sauce if it tastes flat.
  6. Garnish and serve!

Watch how to make it:

PRO Tips:

  • Find the best Doenjang you can. Homemade is best but any dark, strong-smelling doenjang will yield good results. I use 100-day aged Doenjang from the Korean market.
  • Add fish sauce at the end. Many Korean cooks use anchovy stock as a soup base. To keep this recipe fast and easy, I substitute with a sprinkle of fish sauce at the end instead. Note: if using good doenjang, you probably won’t need the fish sauce.
  • Taste and adjust flavor, right before serving. Doenjang is a fermented food that changes in flavor, depending on the age. I recommend tasting your jjigae at the end. If it tastes flat, add a sprinkle of fish sauce. If it’s too salty, add a pinch of sugar or more water. If it’s too watery, add more doenjang and/or gochujang to thicken.

Variations:

A classic of Korean home cooking, there are endless variations to Korean Soybean Paste Stew.

  • Make it spicier. Add 1-2 Tbsp more of Gochukaru and/or Gochujang. Or add more chili peppers at the end.
  • Add seasonal vegetables. Add different vegetables, depending on the time of year. I like buttercup or kabocha squash and potato in the fall and winter. For spring, bean sprouts, zucchini, and cabbage taste light and fresh.
  • Change up the protein. If you don’t eat pork, swap with beef or chicken. Clams, mussels, shrimp, squid, or white fish are also good additions.
  • Make it vegan. Swap the pork with shitake mushrooms for a “meaty” texture. Don’t forget to leave out fish sauce at the end to make it completely plant-based.
  • Thin the broth. Add more water for a thinner broth. It won’t be so thick and chunky.

Special Equipment: Ttukbaegi or Korean clay pot

Koreans use Ttukbaegi or clay pots to cook Doenjang Jjigae. The clay pots easily transfer from stovetop to table. An easy, one pot meal!

Note: Clay earthenware pots take longer to heat but also take longer to cool — keeping jjigaes bubbling hot, even at the table! So good!

Ttukbaegi come in different sizes. I recommend a medium-sized (1000ml) Korean clay pot for my Doenjang Jjigae recipe, which serves 2.

If you don’t own a clay pot, a medium stainless steel pot also works. Cook everything, as stated in the recipe. Before serving, divide between two bowls.

FAQ:

Is Doenjang the same as Miso?

Doenjang and Miso are both fermented soybean pastes. But Miso is fermented with Koji, a rice based starter — giving it a slightly sweeter, milder flavor. Doenjang, on the other hand, is fermented with salt — giving it greater depth and sharpness.

I like to think of Doenjang as a souped-up miso paste. It’s more complex, deeply flavored, earthy, and pungent. Doenjang can also be quite chunky with lots of texture. Sometimes you’ll see pieces of partially crushed soybeans in the thick paste.

Do I need to use a sieve when adding Doenjang?

Doenjang can be quite chunky and textured. When added to stews and soups, distinct bits of soybeans can float on the surface. Some people prefer a less “beany” texture and use a fine mesh sieve to achieve a silkier, smoother finish.

Personally, I don’t mind the texture. But at the end of the day, it depends on what kind of Doenjang you use and your personal preference. Do what you like best!

If using a sieve, use a spoon to push doenjang through before adding to the soup pot. A fast, easy way to remove the texture but keep the flavor.

How do I store Doenjang (Korean Soybean Paste)?

Store Doenjang in the coldest part of your fridge, tightly sealed. It can dry out so make sure it’s covered well.

FYI: Doenjang is a fermented food product; it keeps aging and changing over time. The taste and color will continue to deepen. Technically, it can last several years. But over time, it will look and taste very differently!

More recipes with Doenjang:

More Korean recipes:

bowl of korean soybean paste stew (doenjang jjigae) with two bowls of rice

Easy Doenjang Jjigae (Fermented Soybean Paste Stew)

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
Delicious, savory, flavorful, and easy– Doenjang Jjigae (Fermented Soybean Paste Stew) is classic Korean comfort food. Make this 20-minute, mouthwatering, absolutely irresistible Korean stew at home!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Soup, Stew
Cuisine Korean
Servings 2
Calories

Equipment

  • 1 Medium 1000ml Claypot (Korean Ttukbaeggi) or Medium Saucepan

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup/ 8oz pork shoulder, roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small Korean (grey) zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch chunks (about 1 cup) (can be subbed with kabocha or butternut squash
  • 1 small potato, cut into 3/4-inch chunks (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup Doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 box medium or firm tofu, drained, halved and sliced
  • 1 Fresno or Jalapeno pepper, sliced (optional)
  • dash fish sauce (optional)

Garnish:

  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • drizzle sesame oil
  • sprinkle sesame seeds

Instructions
 

  • Prep pork and vegetables: Roughly chop pork shoulder. Chop the onion, potato, and zucchini. Slice chili pepper. Mince garlic.
    white bowl filled with zucchini, potato, onion
  • Cook pork and onion. In a medium clay pot (or saucepan), heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add pork and onion, stirring occassionally. Cook until onion is mostly soft, about 2 minutes. It's ok if the pork is not completely cooked through.
  • Add water + seasoning. Add water, doenjang, soy sauce, gochujang, and garlic. Add potato and any other hard vegetables (such as squash), if using. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer until potato is soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add soft vegetables. Add zucchini and other soft vegetables (cabbage, bean sprouts, etc.), if using. Cook unti soft, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add sliced tofu and chili pepper. Add tofu and chili pepper and simmer for 2-3 more minutes, until the tofu is heated through and all the flavors meld together. Spoon liquid over the tofu, if needed.
  • Garnish and enjoy. Sprinkle with green onion, drizzle of sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Serve hot with rice and kimchi. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

*Taste and adjust flavor, right before serving. Doenjang is a fermented food that changes in flavor, depending on the age. I recommend tasting your jjigae at the end. If it tastes flat, add a sprinkle of fish sauce. If it’s too salty, add a pinch of sugar or more water. If it’s too watery, add more doenjang and/or gochujang to thicken.
Variations:
    • Make it spicier. Add 1-2 Tbsp more of Gochukaru and/or Gochujang. Or add more chili peppers at the end.
    • Add seasonal vegetables. Add different vegetables, depending on the time of year. I like buttercup or kabocha squash and potato in the fall and winter. For spring, bean sprouts, zucchini, and cabbage taste light and fresh.
    • Change up the protein. If you don’t eat pork, swap with beef or chicken. Clams, mussels, shrimp, squid, or white fish are also good additions.
    • Make it vegan. Swap the pork with shitake mushrooms for a “meaty” texture. Don’t forget to leave out fish sauce at the end to make it completely plant-based.
    • Thin the broth. Add more water for a thinner broth. It won’t be so thick and chunky.
Keyword Doenjang, Jjigae
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
30 minutes, All Recipes, Korean, Main, Pork, Soup, Weeknight Meals

One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Made this tonight for my family using ground pork (because that is what was available at the store) & soft tofu. It was delicious! I cut the squash & potato in advance so that the meal came together very quickly.

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