Friday, September 28, 2018

[Food] Doenjangjjigae (된장찌개, Korean bean paste stew)


[Food] Doenjangjjigae (된장찌개, Korean bean paste stew)

Today's menu, Doenjangjjigae :)

What would be on your ideal breakfast table? I would say a breakfast buffet in a five star hotel with various eastern and western-style breakfast dishes such as bacon and sausage, bread, cereals, Chinese Yumcha dumplings and bread, porridge, fruit juices, milk and Korean-style stew. Ever since I visited a breakfast buffet at a hotel where my friend once lived in China, I have always loved a breakfast buffet.

Chinese Yumcha dumplings and dimsums

If this were in my dreams, I wouldn't want to wake up XD

However, if anyone asked me 'What is your favourite breakfast?' then I would answer 'Korean-style breakfast with Doenjangjjigae (된장찌개, Korean bean paste stew).'

A typical Korean breakfast
Doenjangjjigae is a very typical Korean dish that is loved by most Koreans. 'Doenjang' is Korean bean paste and Jjigae means stew in Korean (Likewise 'Jjigae' of Budaejjigae). In historical Chinese records of 290 A.D., it is written 'Koreans are very good at making bean paste'. This means that Koreans have been producing and eating 'Doenjang' and other Korean style pastes for almost 2000 years.

So, as was the case with most Korean families, I woke up sniffing mom's Doenjangjjigae when I was young. Furthermore, it is very obvious that every Korean family has their own secret recipe of cooking Doenjangjjigae that has been passed down from generation to generation. And, I have never met any Korean who doesn't like Doenjangjjigae. Doenjangjjigae can be set on the table every meal time, and Koreans love to eat it with a bowl of rice after enjoying Korean BBQ.

Do you see that Doenjangjjigae pot on charcoal fire? I'm so sure it is being made after Korean BBQ time :)

"Which means I'm going to eat Doenjangjjigae and rice, Vance. Enjoy your cold noodles"

I finished my story as I grabbed my spoon to scoop some rice. Vance and I are in a Korean BBQ restaurant now. 

"But does it have to be so smelly? Don't you think you should consider your non-Korean friends when you order your favorite Doenjang dish?"

"My dear friend Vance, this is made of fermented bean paste so it is obvious that it smells of bean and something that you don't a man, Vance, take your chances as a friend of Jerry Kim."

"Man, it's not about being a man or not. It is a 'To be or not to be' matter. This smell will kill me soon.....aww..." Vance murmured as he gulped cold noodle.

Well...I understand Vance because what I'm eating is Doenjangjjigae that uses one of the most smelly types of Doengjang but I don't want to give up on my favorite dish. Doenjangjjigae is usually salty, a little spicy and (to Koreans) has a savory bean flavor with its unique smell of Doenjang. Doenjang's main ingredient is soybean. Now let's see how Koreans make Doenjang :)

Wash and steam soybeans
Traditional Korean Kitchen where Koreans made many Korean dishes

Pound all soybeans to bean paste then shape them into a cube or a circle to dry them in the air :)

And you put these dried bean paste into a crock with cloves of garlic, some red chili and charcoal to ferment and prevent any germs. In this procedure, soy-sauce is produced too. After 50 days of fermentation, you break dried bean paste bricks and mix them with chili powder, soy-sauce and dried bean paste powder. Then it finally becomes Doenjang :) but you need another long period of fermentation in a crock.
Doenjang (Korean bean paste)

"Looks like there are many veggies in this stew. What do you put into the stew?"

"Uhm....many...." then I listed the ingredients:

Rice-washed water, it gives a savory flavor to Doenjangjjigae :)

"You need rice-washed water, dried kelp and anchovy to make stock for the stew...and we usually put minced garlic, chopped onion for base flavor, and:

Korean green chili

Shiitake mushroom

.....for basic ingredients for the stew, and the stew's flavor differs according to what you choose to put in as a main flavor....there two choices, seafood or beef."



"'s interesting that the stew's flavor changed according to what you put...." 

Vance said as he nodded his head.

"Yeah, I'd rather choose meat than seafood...haha..."

"I'm not accustomed to this Doenjang smell though.....phew..."

Vance crossed his head.

"However it tastes really good, Vance...Try!"

"Nah...not even in my dreams."

"Haha! Someday I will put this Doenjang in your sandwich or lunch box!"

"Oh...I'm gonna kill you man....don't ever dream of it."

Doenjangjjigae with thick Doenjang paste, it tastes saltier and spicier than usual Doenjangjjigae

Doenjangjjigae with beef

Doenjangjjigae with seafood

Koreans love to eat barley rice and Doenjangjjigae together with any kind of kimchi
Nowadays you can buy a pack of Doenjang at any nearest Korean grocery :)

A Korean proverb says 'Taste of a bean paste is better than a Ttukbaegi (Korean pot for a stew)', which means that a Ttukbaegi's outside looks clean and bright but what people love is the bean paste's taste inside Ttukbaegi. This proverb means the same as 'You can't tell a book by its cover'. Bean paste maybe smelly but it tastes great :)

I want to be someone about whom people can say the above proverb about bean paste when they see me. I'm not good-looking but I want to be a 'good' man. How about you, guys? :)
Don't you want to talk it over a pot of Doenjangjjigae and some rice with me? :D

Bon appétit!

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