I’ll try anything twice. Once just leaves too much up to chance. Maybe it was made poorly, maybe I wasn’t in the mood, maybe the weather was wrong, maybe I just wasn’t ready to appreciate it yet. Twice is the bare minimum to see if one actually likes (or dislikes) something. Case in point, Doenjang Jjigae (soybean paste stew), I really didn’t take to it the first time I tried it. It came as a bit of a shock to the senses, a flavor that was wholly new to me. Doenjang is a Korean fermented soybean paste. Similar in idea to Japanese miso, however not so similar in taste. More pungent, stronger in flavor, and coarser in texture, doenjang might actually take trying twice to “get” it.
Doenjang Jjigae probably ranks second, right after kimchi in culinary significance for Korea. A staple of household dinners, nutritious and easy to make. Where kimchi provides vegetables and fiber doenjang provides protein, vitamins, and essential amino acids to round out a healthy diet.
My recipe is somewhere between Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall and Maangchi, being partially adapted from both of their recipes. That said, being that it is pure home cooking there are a lot of variations out there. None of which are probably more or less authentic representations of the stew. Like most home cooking your mom (and occasionally dad) makes the most “authentic” version of whichever particular dish in question.
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 1 medium size potato, peeled and cubed (~1/2 inch cubes)
- 1 small zucchini or similar summer squash, cubed (same size as potato)
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 6-7 dried anchovies, heads removed, chopped
- 1 small piece of kelp (optional)
- 1 green or red chili pepper, sliced
- 4 shrimp or 5oz. of lean pork, sliced thin.
- water to cover
- 4 T. of doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
- 6 0z. of soft tofu, cut into large cubes
- 2 green onions, chopped
- In a pot* put the chopped onion, cubed potato, cubed zucchini, minced garlic, dried anchovies, kelp piece (if using), sliced chili pepper, and shrimp or pork. Add just enough water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
- When it comes to a boil stir in the doenjang. Cook over medium high heat until the potatoes are just done, about 15 minutes.
- Add the cubes of tofu and continue to cook for about 5 minutes. Garnish with the chopped green onions.
- Serve with rice.