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Vegan Chung-gook-jang-jigae Recipe

November 13, 2011

I’ve blogged previously about how Chung-gook-jang jigae is soooo good for you. (Chung-gook-jang is the Korean version of Natto. Please see my post about Natto and Chung-gook-jang to see how amazing fermented beans are!) Macrobiotic guidelines strongly suggest that you eat Natto and Chung-gook-jang as much as you can, and they are very widely used both in Japan and Korea for their amazing medicinal healing strength for stomach cancer. It is very widely known that doctors of oriental medicine have stomach cancer survivors eat fermented beans everyday – for the rest of their lives!

Anyway, Chung-gook-jang jigae is a really yummy way of using Natto/Chung-gook-jang. Chung-gook-jang sauce adds Korean spices for flavor to the plain Natto, and creates a strong fermented bean paste flavor. It has a very unique stinky cheese like smell and has a very strong flavor that you will recognize right away. It is a very famous Korean dish that can even be controversial even among Koreans – some think that it is the yummiest thing in the world, and some Koreans think the smell is just too much! I never used to look for it or cook it, until Bill fell in love with Chung-gook-jang jigae.

Bill first learned about Chung-gook-jang jigae on Best Chef (Grand Chef), a Korean drama about chefs cooking in modern Korean society. In the drama, the young chef for one of the top traditional Korean restaurants in Seoul cooks Chung-gook-jang jigae for a North Korean dignitary who is visiting for an important diplomatic meeting. The dignitary does not like the jigae, and the young chef sets out to find out how he messed up. He discovers that the restaurant manager had stocked a Chung-gook-jang that didn’t smell, as some customers had complained about the smell when it was prepared. The young chef remakes the dish with a traditional, stinky Chung-gook-jang and saves the day!


Bill was intrigued by the story and tried Chung-gook-jang jigae at a Korean restaurant in Chicago and fell in love with it. I have to admit that he is much more adventurous with food than I am. I tend to need quite a bit of time to get used to food that has strong flavors, but he is so open to them and loves them right away! But if you’re like me, you might not like it right away; you might need some time to acquire the taste. Basically I guess it’s like the process of people learning to really love stinky cheese (without the cruelty and sadness of dairy!).

Anyway, since then we’ve been making Chung-gook-jang jigae quite a bit. All you need to do is visit a Korean grocery store and find Chung-gook-jang, and it’ll be a really quick and easy meal that is nutritious and very traditional Korean! If you are brave enough, you can try it. Even if you’re not courageous enough to try it, now you know about this famous Korean dish that is controversial even among Koreans! =)

Vegan Chung-gook-jang jigae Recipe

5-6 Tbs of Chung-gook-jang (Some Koreans use half Chung-gook-jang and half normal Korean bean paste instead of 100% Chung-gook-jang.)
1 potato (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
1/2 tofu package (cubed)
1/2 Korean zucchini (optional, chopped)
1 green onion (chopped)
1-2 Korean green pepper (optional, de-seeded and chopped, more or less depending on your preference)
1-1/2 cups of water for Chung-gook-jang broth (more or less based on how strong you want the flavor)

1. Put the potatoes, onions, and green pepper (and zucchini/green onions if desired) in a small pot with water to cover and boil until all are cooked. Add cubed tofu at the end.
2. Put the measured water into a small pot and boil water. Lower heat and add Chung-gook-jang to the water. This should be pretty thick, as most of your water is in the other pot. Bring to boil again and turn off heat.
3. Add two scoops of the cooked potatoes, onions and green pepper into a bowl and add two or three scoops of boiled Chung-gook-jang soup on top.
4. Serve with brown rice and other banchans!

This is the Chung-gook-jang that we get!

I like to cook the broth and veggies separately, it always tastes better that way.

See the beans? The broth should be really thick.

And this is your Chung-gook-jang jigae! Soooo yummy… 😉

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Maria permalink
    December 18, 2011 1:24 am

    Just curious — you are buying the chung-guk chang paste in North America, and it looks like it is coming from the frozen section? I haven’t been able to find any here yet.

    • Bill permalink*
      December 18, 2011 8:58 am

      Yes, we found ours in the frozen section; although, I have also seen it in the refrigerated section of another store. Good luck! We’re not exactly surrounded by big Asian groceries and haven’t had trouble getting it, so I would think there’s a good chance a store near you carries it. You might ask about it too as sometimes they can pick something up during their next shipment.

      • Maria permalink
        December 19, 2011 8:49 pm

        Thanks Bill! I actually went in and asked the lady at my tiny today, and she directed me to a mysterious corner of the refrigerated section and I found it. She did question the wisdom of my cooking it in an apartment though, so I guess it will be with all the windows open, or I’ll take it to my parents house to cook. (She also wondered why on earth anyone would want to cook or eat it, but I love it!)

      • Sunnie permalink*
        December 20, 2011 11:19 am

        Maria! So glad that you found it! We just had another batch last night… yeah, it’s difficult to cook chungookjang in an apartment. Kudos to you!! 😉 Hope you enjoy it!!!

  2. Ragtag permalink
    May 26, 2013 2:03 am

    All this talk of its stinkiness has me curious.
    I’ve overcome the smell of freshly opened kimchi jar, and I don’t mind durian. It can’t be as bad as Taiwanese steamed smelly tofu, maybe I’ll try it someday.

    • Bill permalink*
      May 26, 2013 2:27 pm

      Give it a try! I like the taste so it doesn’t really smell bad to me – just strong.

  3. Erin permalink
    June 3, 2013 5:05 pm

    Thank you for turning me on to chung-gook-jang! I have some thawing in the frig, and I keep nibbling on it. I’ve been eating natto for about 8 mos now, and I love it over brown rice with mustard and tamari for breakfast.

    • Bill permalink*
      June 4, 2013 7:37 pm

      Hi, Erin! Glad you like chung-gook-jang! I’m not surprised since you’re a natto fan as they are similar in some ways. Natto for breakfast – breakfast of champions! 😉 I have to admit I tend to get stuck on my cereal, but natto for breakfast is right up Sunnie’s alley.

  4. David Lee permalink
    May 26, 2015 6:27 pm

    Hi, great post.
    It’s also worth noting that the tofu should be of the softer variety in order to obtain a more authentic taste. Also, don’t be afraid to add a little diced kimchi. The added spicyness and the cabbage really sets this jjigae off.

    • Bill permalink*
      May 27, 2015 2:37 am

      Hi, David. Thanks for the suggestions – all good ones. 🙂

  5. October 19, 2017 7:34 am

    Reblogged this on mamabatesmotel.


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