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Vegan Doenjang Jigae (된장 찌개) Recipe

May 12, 2013

ddeonjang jigae

I’m a BIG fan of doenjang jjigae (된장 찌개). I could eat it almost every meal. At the multi-course full meals served by han-jung-shik restaurants, doenjang jjigae is often treated almost like an afterthought, but it’s always been a star attraction dish for me. My mother-in-law makes a really yummy doenjang jjigae. The problem with her cooking is that she so strongly uses son-maht (hand-taste) that she always says she doesn’t have a recipe. So the last time we were in Korea (wow, it’s been almost exactly two years now, due to the preparation and arrival of the baby), I made sure to watch how she made her doenjang jjigae so that I could do my best to replicate it. Sunnie also make me doenjang jjigae all the time, so she also had a secret ingredient to add an additional depth to the stew – pickled peppers!

So this recipe is my take on a recipe after watching Sunnie and her mom make me doenjang jjigae. However, there is definitely a son-maht approach to this dish as the strength of the jjigae depends on how much doenjang you put in it at the end. I tend to like really strong flavors, so I use a lot. Sunnie usually prefers more simple flavors, so she might use less. It’s entirely up to you, but there are a couple of tricks I figured out to make this simple dish fantastic!

Vegan Doenjang Jigae Recipe
(serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as part of a multi-course meal)

1/2 an onion, chopped
1 medium potato, chopped
1 medium korean squash (hobak) or zucchini, chopped
1 bunch of enoki mushrooms, with root end chopped off
1/2 block of medium firmness tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pickled pepper
water or kombu broth to cover
doenjang to taste (approximately 2-5 Tbs, depending on desired strength of flavor)


  1. Put chopped potato and onion in a pan, cover with water or kombu broth, and bring to a boil. We usually just use water, but if you want a bit more flavor, you can first boil a piece of kombu sea-weed, something we do with many of our jjigaes to create a broth.  Alternatively, if you are short on time you can just add the piece of kombu and bring to a boil with the other ingredients.
  2. Once the potatoes and onions are nearly cooked, add the hobak (or zucchini if you don’t have access to Korean squash) and the pickled pepper. This is Sunnie’s secret ingredient; it is optional if you can’t find it but definitely adds more depth to the flavor. If you can’t find it, you can use a regular green Korean pepper or a jalapeno if you have nothing else. Continue to boil until all ingredients are cooked. Here is omanim’s secret: you want to boil the potatoes and onions quite well until the potatoes are soft enough to almost be breaking apart. This adds potato starch and thickens the stew.
  3. Turn down the heat and add the desired amount of doenjang. Mix in the doenjang well. Doenjang is very good for you and super high in probiotics, so you don’t want to boil it too long in high heat, as it will kill the beneficial bacteria.
  4. Add the mushrooms, tofu and bring it briefly to a boil.
  5. It’s ready to serve with rice and other banchan!

This is the doenjang we use. There are multiple good brands, but you really have to just kind of taste to see what you like. Even the same brand’s doenjang can taste significantly different as it continues to ferment, so it can taste different depending on when you buy it.

ddeonjang jigae ingredients
Here are the prepared ingredients, minus the water or kombu broth.

Korean pickled peppers
These are what the package of pickled peppers looks like in case you want to pick them up! 🙂

ddeonjang jigae
Remember to cook the potatoes and onions first so that they are well done. If you add the other ingredients too soon, they will get overcooked. Cooking down the potatoes and onions will produce a strong flavor and enough starch to thicken the stew.

ddeonjang jigae
Remember not to boil the doenjang at too high of a heat too long in order to preserve the vitality of the priobiotic bacteria. Add it and taste to get the desired strength of flavor – a lot of doenjang to make it very strong if you’re like me or less to  have it more mild if you prefer more simple flavors like Sunnie. Enjoy!

33 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2013 6:38 am

    Good idea, this is the perfect dish to make vegan…doenjang ensures there’s plenty of flavour. Doenjang jjigae is such a pillar of Korean cuisine that it has its own movie, crossing thriller/romance/culinary genres.

    • Bill permalink*
      May 13, 2013 9:33 pm

      Interesting! Hadn’t heard of that one. We’ll have to check it out. We love food dramas/movies! 😉

  2. Erin permalink
    May 13, 2013 2:37 pm

    I realize that this is sick, but I actually eat doenjang straight out of the tub like peanut butter out of the jar. Sad. So sad. But so good.

    • Bill permalink*
      May 13, 2013 9:26 pm

      Ha ha! Wow, someone who likes doen jang more than me!!!!

  3. May 14, 2013 2:30 pm

    The brand of doenjang that you show is exactly the type that we can get here so I am assured of something close to your results. Not sure about getting the salted green pepper but I am going into the city today so might check the Korean mart :). We are in autumn here in Tasmania and this looks like something perfect for tea tonight. I will be heading in to my daughters for another weekend of Korean cooking adventures. I might have to wheel this one out as my contribution 🙂 Cheers for sharing it with us all 🙂

    • Bill permalink*
      May 16, 2013 8:56 pm

      You guys are committed to your Korean food! So awesome 🙂 Hope you enjoy!

      • May 17, 2013 1:13 pm

        Cheers for the recipe, at least I will get something great in the vegan selection 🙂

  4. May 16, 2013 4:16 am

    Just discovered your blog and LOVE it as I’m trying to introduce more vegetarian cooking in our meals. A question: can you please tell me the korean name for the pickled pepper? I live in Italy and ask for ingredients in the italian equivalent, but I always like to have a back up name in case the store owner (korean, naturally) is not exactly sure what I’m asking for. Thank you!

    • Bill permalink*
      May 16, 2013 8:56 pm

      Thanks, Rowena! Here is what Sunnie says: 풋고추 절임 or 고추 장아찌 Pootgochu julim or Gocho jangachi. Good luck and thanks for visiting!

  5. May 24, 2013 5:25 pm

    I made this, but with parsnips instead of carrots…was AMAZING i recommend it!

    • Bill permalink*
      May 24, 2013 8:15 pm

      Interesting – will have to give it a try. Thanks!

  6. May 24, 2013 5:26 pm

    whoops…*potatoes not carrots

  7. June 15, 2013 5:38 am

    This sounds like a great meal for my local vegan restaurant. I will need to suggest this to them.

    • Bill permalink*
      June 16, 2013 5:33 pm

      Thanks for visiting! Hope they’ll give it a try (and jealous that you have a local vegan restaurant)! 🙂

  8. kennyf permalink
    July 16, 2013 7:29 pm

    Don’t think I have Doenjang Jigae before, what’s the taste?
    It looks like a Miso soup with more veggies. 🙂

    • Bill permalink*
      July 16, 2013 7:32 pm

      Hi, Kenny. Doenjang is essentially Korean miso, so it does have a similar taste. But deonjang jigae tends to have a stronger flavor and is more of a stew (jigae) as opposed to a soup (guk). Hope you give it a try!

  9. Sharon permalink
    July 20, 2013 10:17 pm

    My hubby doesn’t care for zucchini, so I used bok choy instead and it turned out great. Even the kiddos loved it. I also used to peppers, which I do think adds a little something. Thanks!

    • Bill permalink*
      July 21, 2013 10:26 am

      Great! Glad everyone enjoyed it!

  10. July 24, 2013 6:23 pm

    Sunnie, it looks good. I love doenjang.

    • Sunnie permalink*
      July 31, 2013 1:59 pm

      I know, Debbie. 된장 is awesome!! 😉

  11. August 5, 2013 4:27 pm

    I tried this soup/stew and it was DELICIOUS! It’s like a combination of potato soup and miso soup together with additional spicyness from the pickled pepper. I used 2 pickled pepper since I like spicy. My American husband likes it too. It took me a while to shop inside a Korean market to find all the ingredients. I was even able to get the Korean squash looking at the pictures in this blog. Question about Korean pickled peppers: I bought a whole bag like pictured above and only used a couple. How long will they last (I transferred them into a glass jar) in the fridge?

    • Bill permalink*
      August 7, 2013 2:12 pm

      Hi, Debbie. So glad you liked it! They are pickled so they should last quite a long time. We keep ours in a glass jar, just like you, and they last for a very long time. Also make a good, easy banchan, so you don’t have to save them just for the doenjang jigae.

  12. Corrin Radd permalink
    September 25, 2013 7:44 pm

    Made this for my family today–so simple and so good. Post more recipes when you get a chance!

    • Bill permalink*
      September 28, 2013 7:22 am

      Great, glad you enjoyed it, Corrin! Yes, we have a healthy backlog of recipes to post. Just need to find some time to post them! 🙂

  13. Kent permalink
    December 23, 2013 2:51 pm

    Question – do you just put the pepper in or do you cut/chop it or something? I hope to try this before too long!

    • Bill permalink*
      December 23, 2013 3:42 pm

      Hi, Kent. You do cut the pepper up first. Keep in mind the most typical mistake is putting too much water in. You want it to thicken up a little bit from the potatoes releasing their starch when they soften so you get a thicker, more velvety broth. It’s a stew not a soup. Good luck and hope you enjoy!

  14. September 14, 2014 7:22 pm

    I must’ve made this recipe at least fifty times by now — sorry for the late thanks!!! My husband and I love it, definitely one of our most favorite comfort foods. Thank you again.

    • Bill permalink*
      September 15, 2014 10:06 am

      Awesome, MJ! That’s great to hear. You’re exactly right on it being a comfort food. This is probably my fave if I had to pick a Korean dish. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  15. January 27, 2017 9:33 pm

    I’d been wondering for so long if doenjang is actually vegan and I guess the paste itself is! AW YIIR!

    • Bill permalink*
      February 23, 2017 3:16 pm

      Yes, doenjang for the win! 🙂


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