Doenjang jjigae (된장 찌개)...
...is one of the quintessential dishes that you associate with Korea along with kimchi jjigae, galbi and bibimbap.
So what is a
yakisoba doenjang jjigae? It's a Korean stew that's flavored with doenjang (fermented soybean paste) and various vegetables, meats and/or seafood. You'll usually get this at the end of a Korean BBQ along with rice or you may see some people order it a la carte for lunch or dinner. The strong flavor of the fermented soybean takes some time to get used to if you haven't been raised in a Korean household and I believe it's one of the most underrated and under the radar Korean dish in the popular food scene.
I grew up on this stuff as a little boy in Korea. The one thing about Korean food you'll see is that there's a real
humbleness humility to most of the dishes. Doenjang jjigae is made from cheap ingredients but they're combined and prepared in a way to develop the most flavor with what's given. Look at galbi as another example. It's a cheap cut of meat that's marinated to make it more flavorful and tender after you grill it. There's a lot of history and culture to each of these dishes and it's important to keep the heritage alive even in the US.
The secret (I think) to making great doenjang jjigae is choosing a good doenjang and the anchovy stock. There's a place in Duluth, GA that make's their own doenjang and I use the stuff from there but if you can't get your hands on something like that, use the best doenjang you can buy at the Asian supermarket. Make sure you refrigerate after opening if you buy one from the supermarket. Sometimes you can buy anchovy stock at the supermarket or they may have tea pouches with some anchovies and vegetables inside on the shelves. If all else fails, use light chicken stock but the flavor really isn't the same. There's a lot of ways to make doenjang jjigae, but this is what I do to make mine.
Makes 2 servings
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons of doenjang
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- leftover steak (ribeye works wonders) or 1/4 pound of steak diced (you can also use seafood like clams, oysters or keep it vegetarian. To this day, I have never seen chicken in a doenjang jjigae)
- 2 cups of anchovy stock
- half of an onion, diced
- 1 small potato, peeled and diced
- half of a zucchini, diced
- half of a tablespoon of gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
- half block of firm tofu, drained and diced
- 1 jalapeno, sliced
- 1 package of enoki mushrooms
1) In a hot pot, add the tablespoon of sesame oil. Once the oil is hot enough, add the doenjang, minced garlic and uncooked steak. If you're using leftover steak, we'll add that in later. Stir the steak around for a minute or two along with the doenjang until the steak is browned. Take care not to burn the paste and garlic.
2) Add the diced onions and potatoes and cook for another minute.
3) Add the 2 cups of anchovy stock and bring up to a boil. Once at a boil, cook for about 2 minutes so the potatoes start to get tender.
4) At this time, add the zucchini in (and the leftover steak if using). Cook for another 2 minutes. Add the gochugaru in and stir to incorporate into the stew. Add the diced tofu and cook for another minute to warm the tofu through. Be careful while stirring at this point as the tofu will break apart if the stew isn't stirred gently.
5) To finish, add the sliced jalapeno and enoki mushrooms and cook for another minute. Serve immediately with fluffy rice.
Notice that no salt is added at any point while making the stew. The fermented soybean paste is salty as it is and you can add a little more to the stew if you need that extra seasoning. The chili flakes add a nice kick and changes the color of the soup to a vibrant, reddish brown color.