Dig into this veggie and tofu loaded Doenjang Jjigae recipe with abandon! A delicious and comforting Korean soybean paste stew, ready in 25 minutes from start to finish.
Doenjang Jjigae (Korean Soybean Paste Stew)
Like much of the world right now, my mom is addicted to watching Korean dramas. It’s a daily thing!
As many of you know, my mother is visiting us from Japan for a couple of months.
So between shopping trips and a bit of sightseeing, we always make sure to set aside a couple of hours for her to stay current on her shows.
Therefore, it didn’t come as much of a surprise that after watching a couple highly foodporn-saturated episodes of Let’s Eat one day, she suggested we go have Korean food at a new restaurant that opened in our neighborhood.
We tore into plates of japchae noodles, a crispy pajeon pancake, soon tofu, spicy kimchi jjigae, steaming bowls of soondubu – and all the wonderful assorted banchan (small side dishes) that tend to accompany a Korean feast.
It was delicious!
However, there was one thing conspicuously missing from the menu that night: Doenjang Jjigae.
You see, I absolutely love this rich and silky veggie loaded Korean tofu soup.
It’s a savory stew that has a star ingredient (one that I’ll tell you about in a second) that just sends the flavor into overdrive!
And, since we missed it on the menu that night, I decided to whip it up at home.
I’m super excited to share this doenjang jjigae recipe with you today, friends.
My hope is that, once you make it, you’ll love it as much as I do!
Btw… are you a Korean drama fan? Be sure to tell me about your favorite shows in the comments!
What is doenjang jjigae?
Doenjang jjigae (된장찌개) is an iconic Korean stew usually composed of meat, vegetables and tofu.
I used daikon, tofu, zucchini and mushrooms in this recipe – but you can feel free to experiment with the ingredients in your own creations.
And while there are many ingredient variations found in doenjang jjigae, it almost universally utilizes a Korean fermented soybean paste as its main flavor component.
This soybean paste is called doenjang (된장) and is made of soybeans and salt or brine.
And while it has some similarities to regular miso paste, in that it is made of soybeans, I find that doenjang has a more funky flavor.
You see, regular miso paste generally has a sweeter and more mild flavor.
Doenjang brings a more earthy, salty punch to this yummy Korean soup.
That said, in a pinch you could totally use awase miso.
Now, the difference between soup and stew is a fine line indeed. I find that the viscosity of this doenjang jjigae recipe straddles that line perfectly.
It’s not quite as thin as a consommé, however it’s not as thick as a traditional beef stew either. I’d say it’s the perfect happy middle ground!
And it’s delicious!
How do you cook Doenjang Jjigae?
It’s not often that you get such fully developed flavors in a stew that only takes 25 minutes to make from start to finish.
But full flavor is exactly what you’ll get from this easy-to-make doenjang jjigae!
To start, simply pour four cups water (or dashi broth) into a pot over medium-high heat.
Then add about three tablespoons of doenjang, three cloves of minced garlic, two teaspoons of gochugaru and a two-inch piece of dried kelp.
Bring that mixture to a boil.
At this point, add a large chopped zucchini, a diced onion, about a cup of quartered button mushrooms, a cup of sliced daikon radish, a block of cubed tofu and a thinly sliced chili pepper to the pot.
Bring it all back to a boil.
Once it’s bubbling, lower the heat to medium-low and let it simmer away until your veggies are properly cooked. This should take about 15 minutes.
Now, do a little taste test. Add a tablespoon or two of soybean paste if needed. Like it strong? Go for broke!
As soon as you’ve nailed down this doenjang jjigae to your own taste, it’s ready to go!
Just pull the kelp out, ladle your Korean stew into bowls, top with some chopped scallions and dig in.
You can serve with rice, or just eat it as is.
Is Doenjang the same as miso?
As I mentioned already, there are some differences between miso paste and doenjang.
Korean doenjang paste is made solely from soybeans and salt – and is fermented to the point of earthy funkiness.
Miso is a bit smoother, milder and slightly sweeter. You see, miso is produced by adding rice and a koji starter to the soybeans before fermentation.
Those subtle variations in production are responsible for the differences in flavor. However, you can totally substitute one for the other if you’ve only got one handy in your kitchen and you’re putting dinner together to feed hungry mouths ASAP!
While you can probably find many of the ingredients you’ll need to whip up this yummy Korean doenjang jjigae recipe at most Asian grocery stores, it never hurts to do a bit of price-comparison shopping, right?!
Here are a few of the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe on Amazon:
I also added dashi stock to the water to add a bit more savory depth to my own doenjang jjigae – but this is completely optional.
Is Doenjang vegan?
Doenjang paste is made with only soybeans and salt. Therefore the paste is completely vegan.
Now, in my own version of the composed dish, I mixed a bit of dashi stock with the water before adding it to the pan. If you use dashi, it won’t be 100% vegan. You see, dashi is make with fish.
That said, if you just stick to the recipe as it’s printed below (with water), this doenjang jjigae is a vegan recipe all the way!
A Korean tofu soup you can make year round
One of the best things about this doenjang jjigae recipe is that you can make it all throughout the year.
Of course, this warming simmered stew is perfect when sitting down to dinner with friends and family in the wintertime.
A couple cans of cider and a big pot of this fermented soybean paste stew is the absolute antidote to the chilling winter winds that howl away just outside the frost rimmed window.
However, many simmered dishes are just too heavy to eat when it’s a bazillion degrees outside.
Well, not this one!
Doenjang jjigae is light enough to whip up in the summertime.
Hey – eating hot soup in the summer cools you off!
Short explanation: You eat hot soup. It makes you sweat. The moisture on your skin catches the breeze and brings your body’s surface temperature down. Science 🙂
Since the broth is on the lighter side – and because it’s all veggies and tofu inside – it makes a great full-flavored summer treat.
I love it when a dish can pull double duty!
So, what about you? Is there a dish you make that can be enjoyed in the summertime and the winter alike? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Happy cooking, friends!
Other delicious and easy Korean recipes:
- Japchae 잡채; 雜菜 – Korean Glass Noodles (Vegan)
- Korean Sticky Chicken
- Vegan Jajangmyeon (Korean Noodles With Black Bean Sauce)
- Kimchi Fried Rice
- Kimchijeon (Kimchi Pancake Recipe)
- 25 Asian Side Dishes
- 27 Japanese Recipes You Can Make At Home
- 29 Tofu Recipes That Will Make You Rethink Meat
Did you like this Doenjang Jjigae Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
Doenjang Jjigae (Korean Soybean Paste Stew)
A veggie and tofu loaded savory Korean soybean paste stew. Perfect for the winter or summer months… yummy year-round!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
- Category: Vegan
- Method: Simmered
- Cuisine: Korean
- 4 cups water (or dashi broth)
- 3 tablespoons doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste) or miso paste (I use awase miso which is a mix of white and red miso paste)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 2-inch piece dried kelp (seaweed)
- 2 teaspoons Korean chili pepper flakes (gochugaru)
- 1 large zucchini, cut into half moon slices
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 cup button mushrooms, quartered
- 1 cup Korean radish or daikon, cut into thin half moon slices
- 1 block (12-14oz) tofu (medium or firm), cubed
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 1 Korean chili pepper or jalapeño, thinly sliced (optional)
- Cooked rice, to serve with (optional)
- In a pot over medium heat, add water, soybean paste, garlic, dried kelp, and Korean chili pepper flakes, and bring to a boil.
- Add zucchini, onion, mushrooms, radish, tofu and chili pepper, and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until all the vegetables are cooked – about 15 minutes.
- Do a taste test – adjust flavor by adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of soybean paste if needed.
- Pull the kelp out, divide into serving bowls, top with scallions and serve with rice.
Leftovers of this doenjang jjigae recipe will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Keywords: Korean, vegan, vegetarian, stew, spicy tofu soup