28 August 2010

Doenjang jjigae: intensely good

Here is a delicious stew--perfect for summer when mixed up with a green salad, and warm and spicy for when the days get cooler.  I'm not Korean, but I have certainly fallen in love with the cooking of Korea, and I'm so excited to share this dish with you!  Ever since my college roommate Steph started buzzing about doenjang jjigae (say: dwen-jang jee-gay), I have been on a quest to figure out what it tastes like and to learn how to make it.  This is a real home-style Korean stew that gets its name (and its primary flavor) from the gloriously savory and salty fermented soybean paste doenjang.

Cooked in the tasty broth are chunks of tofu, potatoes, zucchini, and onions, plus shiitake mushrooms and a little bit of seafood.  The first time I had this, I tried the version made by the ajumma at my local Korean market, who uses clams and adds dried whole red chilies. Served over rice and with a green salad and kimchi alongside, this was a beautiful meal with a rainbow of colors, textures, and flavors.

Now another way you can serve this--and which I recommend--is serving it up a la Maangchi, by putting your serving of rice, jjigae, and salad all together in a big bowl and mixing it together.  Then drizzle it liberally with cho-gochujang (a sweet and sour chili sauce which normally is served with bibimbap, but which I find works really well here).  I know it might sound a bit strange to mix the salad in with the warm rice and stew, but trust me, it is really really good.
~ ~ ~

Of course, as with any home-style recipe, there are many variations for this doenjang jjigae recipe, and here I use a combination of anchovies and shrimp and get a subtler heat from de-seeded jalapeno.  I was pretty excited, though, how the overall flavor of mine was quite similar to that of my Korean shopkeeper's version.  This recipe is great--with it you'll see how easy it can be to cook up authentic flavors of Korea in your own kitchen!

But is the doenjang flavor generally too intense for non-Koreans?  This was a question Steph posed and that initially got me curious to see if I could handle, nay, enjoy doenjang.  After my culinary explorations, my personal palate says this stuff is delicious.  What do you say?

Doenjang jjigae 된장 찌개
(Korean Soybean Paste Stew, Serves 4)

6 Tbs. fermented soybean paste (doenjang, 된장)
2 cups cubed potato
2 cups cubed zucchini
1 cup sliced yellow onion
1 jalapeno, seeds and ribbing removed, julienned
8 dried or frozen anchovies (mareun myeolchi, 마른멸치), heads and backbone removed
5 large raw shrimp
1 ounce (about one cup) dried sliced shiitake mushrooms
14 oz. (396 g) firm tofu, cubed
4 green onions, chopped

Steamed Rice
Green Salad (recipe follows)
Cho-Gochujang (Chili Paste Sauce, recipe follows)

In a medium- to large-sized pot, whisk the doenjang into a cup of water.  Add the potato, zucchini, onion, and jalapeno.  Finely mince the anchovies and shrimp and add to the pot, along with the shiitake mushrooms.  Add more water to barely cover the ingredients, then gently mix the ingredients.

Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender.  Gently stir in the tofu and green onions and continue cooking until tofu has heated through.

To serve, place a scoop of rice in a bowl and spoon the doenjang jjigae over.  If desired, add green salad straight to the bowl and mix together, drizzling with cho-gochujang to taste.

Green Salad

8 cups mixed greens, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 a large English cucumber, sliced into half-moons
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 yellow onion
3 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. rice (or apple cider) vinegar
1 Tbs. roasted sesame oil
1 tsp. sesame seeds
Salt to taste

In a large bowl, toss together the greens, cucumber, and green onion.  Finely grate the yellow onion over the salad, adding both the grated onion and the onion juice.  Whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil, then sprinkle over the greens along with the sesame seeds and toss.  Season to taste with more salt.

Cho-Gochujang (초 고추장)
(Sweet and Sour Korean Chili Paste Sauce)

3 Tbs. Korean red chili paste (gochujang, 고추장)
2 Tbs. superfine sugar (or honey)
2 Tbs. rice (or apple cider) vinegar
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. roasted sesame oil
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.  A delicious condiment used traditionally for bibimbap, this sauce is great on almost anything!  Store any leftover sauce in the refrigerator for later use.


Angie said...

This jjigae is my absolute favorite! Sometimes my mom adds in a tablespoon or two of gochujang in it for a spicier flavor. You should try it; it's really good!

erica said...

mmm, I would love to bump up the spice factor...don't know how the rest of my family would handle it, though. =)

Anonymous said...

YUM! I'm sending a friend of mine over here too who loves Korean food and has been looking for a kimchi recipe . . . great pictures, and I can't wait to try this recipe! Looks like a trip to the Asian grocery store must happen soon . . . =)

Anonymous said...

How funny that I've been wanting to post some more Korean recipes on Tasty and here you are already doing a great job of it! This is one of the ultimate comfort food. Plus, pretty healthy for you. The gochujang sauce... I usually make it without the sugar since I find that gochujang has a natural sweetness to it... but eveything else is the same, plus I add some chopped green onions and use it as a salad dressing and serve almost like banchan.

Post a Comment