Doenjang Jjigae (Korean Soybean Paste Stew)

A mainstay in my mom’s cooking repertoire, she made it at least once a week for family dinners.

Doenjang Jjigae (Soybean Stew) in a Clay Pot on the Counter, and in the Surroundings, a Bowl of Rice, a Bowl of Banchan, a White Kitchen Towel, and a Twiggy Plant in a Pot

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

Doenjang jjigae (Jjigae means "stew.") is one of the classic Korean stews—another is kimchi jjigae. It’s made with doenjang, (a fermented soybean paste), a handful of simple vegetables like onion, potato, and squash, and sometimes proteins like beef, pork, or seafood such as clam and shrimp. A mainstay in my mom’s cooking repertoire, she made it at least once a week for family dinners because it is hearty, healthy, and easy. 

This deeply savory stew is also a go-to order for those in the know at Korean BBQ joints. It’s shared with the whole table as the perfect palate cleanser between bites of grilled meat and shots of soju. Once you become acquainted with the rich, comforting taste of doenjang jjigae, you’ll find yourself going back for it again and again.

Simple Tip!

Doenjang jjigae differs a bit from doenjang guk (doenjang soup), which tends to be lighter and brothier than this thicker, richer stew.

Overhead View of Doenjang Jjigae in a Clay Pot on a White Kitchen Towel and Surrounded by a Bowl of Rice, a Small Bowl of Sauce, and a Wooden Spoon

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

The Doenjang You Use Is Key—Here Are My Recommendations

For me, doenjang jjigae is the most representative of Korean foods because it highlights a uniquely Korean ingredient: doenjang. Doenjang is made by soaking fermented soybean blocks in salt water for several months, then draining the liquid (which is ganjang, or soy sauce). 

Though it’s similar to its Japanese counterpart miso, it differs in that it’s a wild fermentation using only soybeans, whereas miso incorporates wheat for a more controlled fermentation. This means that doenjang tastes completely different depending on the region, the duration fermented, and the season it is made. 

Even among supermarket brands, there is a wide variety. Some are saltier, some more savory, while others have ingredients like onion, garlic, or fish mixed in for extra flavor. It’s important to season with salt against the specific doenjang you have.

The doenjang you use is everything in this dish, so using a high-quality, specialty doenjang will go a long way. I like Sempio Tojang or 100-Day Soybean Paste.

Close-up of Doenjang Jjigae Topped With Sliced Scallions

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

How To Serve Doenjang Jjigae

Doenjang jjigae is great to share family-style—a small pot can go a long way since it’s so flavorful and packed with big chunks of veggies and tofu. Pair with grilled meats or fish, or serve simply with a bowl of rice and banchan.

Recipe Variations

  • If you can’t source dried anchovies—I buy mine at H Mart—use beef bone stock, chicken stock, or good vegetable stock. The better your stock, the better your jjigae, but if you use high-quality doenjang you don’t need anything other than water!
  • Add a big handful of spinach for an even deeper flavor.
  • Toss in chopped baby bok choy for a delicious crunch.
  • Sprinkle in a tablespoon of gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) at the end for a spicy kick.

Doenjang Jjigae (Korean Soybean Paste Stew)

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Servings 4 servings

You can find cheongyang peppers, a Korean variety of green chili peppers, at most Asian grocery stores, like H Mart. You can use jalapeño peppers in a cinch.

Ingredients

For the anchovy broth

For the jjigae

  • 1/3 cup doenjang, like  Sempio 100 Day Soybean Paste or Sempio Tojang

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch half moons

  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into large chunks

  • 1/2 medium gray squash or green zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch half moons

  • 5 ounces medium firm tofu, cut into 1x1x1/2-inch pieces

  • 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)

  • 2 green onions, chopped

  • 1 red or green cheongyang or jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced (See Note)

Method

  1. Make the anchovy broth:

    Use your fingers to remove the heads and guts of the anchovies, and discard them. Add the anchovies and 4 cups of water into a medium pot over medium-high heat. Bring to just below a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes until the broth smells flavorful and becomes a bit cloudy and yellow in color. 

    Scoop out and discard the anchovies. Then, scoop out 1/2 cup broth and set it aside.

    Large Anchovies Boiling in a Korean Clay Pot Filled With Water for Soybean Paste Stew Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

  2. Prep the doenjang:

    Add the doenjang to the reserved 1/2 cup of broth, and whisk to dissolve. It is okay if small chunks remain, but most of the paste should be incorporated into the broth. Set it aside.

    In a Bowl, Deonjang Paste Whisked Into the Reserved Broth

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

  3. Cook the jjigae:

    Bring the anchovy broth back to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the doenjang mixture, garlic, and potatoes, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. 

    Add the onion, squash, and tofu. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes until the potatoes and squash are tender. 

    Taste for seasoning, and stir in fish sauce if the broth lacks saltiness or depth. Remove from heat, and top with green onions and sliced chilis. Serve immediately.

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    Doenjang Added to Clay Pot of Filled With Anchovy Broth on the Stove for Doenjang Jjigae Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

    Clay Pot Filled With Deonjang Jjigae Ingredients Boiling on the Stove

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

    Cheonyang Peppers and Sliced Scallions Added to Soybean Paste Stew

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

    Doenjang Jjigae (Soybean Stew) in a Clay Pot on the Counter, and in the Surroundings, a Bowl of Rice, a Bowl of Banchan, and a White Kitchen Towel

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
119 Calories
2g Fat
20g Carbs
7g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 119
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 23mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 19mg 97%
Calcium 169mg 13%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 491mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.