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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!


Bachelor Bap – Lazy Vegan Recipe

April 15, 2013

bachelor bap 2

So there are quick and easy recipes and then there are lazy recipes. This is my “I’m too tired or lazy to put anything into fixing a meal” recipe. Around our house, I don’t tend to cook if I’m only cooking for myself, and Sunnie is the same way. But sometimes there is nothing in the fridge, and you have to eat. So this recipe, which I call Bachelor Bap because it’s so easy to prepare and perfect for lazy vegan guys (or girls) or a late night snack, arose out of one of my lazy episodes. At first, Sunnie would make fun of me for eating it all the time, but I started to notice that suddenly I wasn’t the only one eating it when I made and soon she was making it for herself all the time too. Now it’s become a frequent option at our dinner table, and not just because Tevyn is keeping us so busy all the time – it’s because it’s seriously yummy.

There’s not really an equivalent in Korean, but we had a request for hangul in our recipes from David on our Facebook page, so much like bachelor’s kimchi (총각 김치), bachelor bap is 총각 밥.

This is a lazy man’s bibimbap, as you just toss in the ingredients with rice and stir it up. The ingredients are really simple – sheets of kim (roasted seaweed or nori in Japanese), perilla (kkaennip) oil, and perilla (kkaennip) rice seasoning mix.

bachelor bap ingredients

Bachelor Bap (총각 밥) Lazy Vegan Recipe

Enough rice for each serving (fresh or reheated if you’re feeling particularly lazy)
2 or more sheets of roasted seaweed (kim, 김)
perilla oil (들기름) to taste
perilla rice seasoning mix, called shiso in Japanese, to taste


  1. Scoop enough rice to fill you up into a bowl (reheat if you’re too lazy to make fresh rice and there is some in the fridge).
  2. Tear sheets of kim into roughly bite sized pieces. Don’t try too hard; it’s good enough.
  3. Sprinkle perilla rice seasoning mix on top to taste (you can always add more later if it’s not strong enough).
  4. Drizzle perilla oil on top to taste (you want a decent amount, I’d say at least one and maybe a couple of tablespoons). Again, you can always add more later.
  5. Stir up until the seasoning and oil are well mixed in and the kim shrinks down.

Perilla (kkaennip) oil
This is the perilla oil that we use. Kkaennip is traditionally more of a peasant food. Sesame oil was preferred by the court and is more commonly used in bibimbap, but we definitely prefer perilla oil in bibimbap as well as bachelor bap!

perilla (kkaennip) rice seasoning
This is the perilla (called kkaennip in Korean, shiso in Japenese) rice seasoning mix that we use. It is essentially just dried and crumbled kkaennip leaves, salt, and sugar. You could probably make your own, but this is bachelor bap, and that’s too much work.

bachelor bap
Dump all the ingredients on warm rice. The rice seasoning and oil are to taste, and you can always add more later, but don’t be skimpy. This is a salty-fatty tasting dish.

bachelor bap
This is basically a lazy bibimbap, so you’re just mixing (bibim) everything up!

bachelor bap
And there you have it, bachelor bap! Despite being a lazy vegan’s dish, it is really yummy and kind of addictive. Give it a try!

Ssam-bap Recipe!

March 14, 2013

ssam-bap ingredients

If you travel outside of Seoul like Bill and I do when we visit Korea, you will see a lot of really cute Ssam-bap restaurants in the countryside. It is like a staple country food dish. While many restaurants serve the dish with a small plate of meat these days, the main focus is on the Ssam.

Ssam (쌈) means “wrap” in Korean. So you use various leaves as a wrap to wrap rice and ssamjang (wrap sauce, a yummy bean paste). This is another great Korean peasant food dish. Very simple yet satisfying. The funny thing is that nowadays these peasant dishes are served at classy, up-scale han-jung-shik (Korean full meal) restaurants, as they are considered healthy, well-being food. We have it when we are being lazy and don’t want to cook. It’s not fancy but its healthy, easy, and satisfying!

Ssam-bap Recipe

korean green peppers
perrilla leaves
red lettuce
cabbage leaves
napa cabbage leaves
kimchi (optional)


1. Make white or brown rice. Prepare ssamjang and kimchi.
2. Clean korean green peppers, perrilla leaves, red lettuce and cabbage leaves. Leave all of the leaves whole and slice the peppers.
3. Steam cabbage until the leaves start becoming clear, but not mushy- takes about 15 minutes when I cook them!
4. Rinse the steamed cabbage immediately in cold water so it stops cooking. If you don’t rinse, it will keep cooking and will be over cooked. It will not taste good!
5. Arrange the korean green peppers, perrilla leaves, red lettuce and cooked cabbage leaves on a plate and serve with rice, ssamjang and kimchi.
6. Wrap the leaves with ssamjang, kimchi and rice like a taco and enjoy! 😉

This is the ssamjang that we use. This is a Haechandle brand, but “Soonchang” makes a good ssamjang too!

ssam-bap cabbage leaves
Steam the cabbage until slightly translucent, but don’t overcook! Rinse with cold water right away to stop the cooking.

ssam-bap leaves
You can mix and match what leaves you use and even combine them. We sometimes like to place a perilla (kkaennip) leaf inside of a lettuce or cabbage leaf when we make wraps.

Wrap the ingredients up like a taco and enjoy! Be sure to be generous with the ssamjang – that is what really makes the ssambap! And add some kimchi if you like – makes it really yummy.

Some restaurants will put it together for you like this when they serve their Ssam-bap.

ssam-bap ingredients

Ssam-bap: a simple, healthy, and delicious Korean peasant food!

Goodbye Year of the Dragon & Our Little Dragon’s 100th Day Celebration

February 10, 2013

새해 복 많이 받으세요! Happy lunar new year! It’s the start of the year of the snake and the end of the year the dragon. 2012 was a crazy year for us. Sunnie started a new job, we moved, and then welcomed our son, Tevyn, into the world less than a month after relocating!


In Korea, the traditional first big celebration for a new baby is the 100th day celebration, 100 days after the baby is born. Families have a big feast and invite friends and family over to celebrate the birth. We of course had to do the same and cooked up a vegan Korean feast for our guests.

100-Days 7

We had many of our favorite dishes at the celebration, including japchae

100-Days 5

and soy curl bulgogi

100-Days 4

mung bean pancakes

100-Days 3



and green onion pancakes

green onion pancakes

kim-mari, fried seaweed rolls


and a variety of rice cakes, along with yak-gwa cookies

korean rice cakes

and finally some yoo-boo cho-bap (tofu pockets stuffed with seasoned rice).

Yoo-boo cho-bap

What a year for us 2012 was! Tevyn is also my excuse for not posting as much as we’d like to. My nickname for him (among others) is Captain Timesuck! That’s his official superhero name until he gets old enough to claim his own.

So, his 100th day celebration was all about the food and friends. I’ll post about his first birthday celebration later this year and some fun Korean traditions we’ll be observing then.

Best wishes and blessings for a wonderful year of the snake!

Vegan Goongjung ddeokbokki (Palace ddeokbokki, Soy sauce rice cake) Recipe!

January 18, 2013

Palace Ddeokbokki

My parents came to visit us from Seoul and then my brother came from LA to visit us during the last several weeks, so we’ve been super busy. We had so much fun with them. Bill and I have been having a lot of ddeokbokki lately, and we’ve been making various versions. The other day, we made Goongjung ddeokbokki, which literally means, palace ddeokbokki – so the idea is that it’s a royal dish, rather than an every day person’s dish. Its main flavor is soy sauce, rather than pepper paste, like the more popular ddeokbokki. It’s a really nice option to have for ddeokbokki!

Vegan Goongjung ddeokbokki (Palace ddeokbokki, Soy sauce rice cake) Recipe!

3-4 pieces of kelp/kombu
3 big, dried shitake mushrooms
1 pack of rice cake
3-4 Tbs of soy sauce
3-4 Tbs of sugar
1 Tbs of diced garlic
1 cup of sliced onions (you can always substitute with onion powder and garlic powder if you don’t have onions and garlic handy)
veggies (such as carrots, cabbage, chives, green onions)
black Pepper
sesame seeds

1. Soak the kelp/kombu and shitake mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes and reserve the water. Slice the mushrooms into bite sizes after soaking.
2. Slice the onions, cabbage, carrots, chives, green onions (I just throw in whatever I have!).
3. Heat the pan and add the reserved kelp/kombu and shitake mushroom water, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, onions (or garlic/onion powder), black pepper, salt, and sesame seeds. Bring to a boil and let it boil for several minutes.
4. Put the rice cakes and sliced veggies into the pan and boil until the rice cakes are soft. The veggies will become nice and soft too! Let the sauce soak into the rice cake which should turn darker brown.
6. Add some sesame seeds,  salt and black pepper to your liking and continue to briefly stir over heat.
7. It’s ready, enjoy!! 🙂

Palace Ddeokbokki

Slice up whatever veggies you have, but one thing that I wouldn’t skip is cabbage!

Palace Ddeokbokki

You need your kelp/kombu and shitake mushroom water too – it can improve most vegan Korean dishes, super important!

Palace Ddeokbokki

Add your sauce ingredients and bring to boil.

Palace Ddeokbokki

Add your veggies and rice cake!

Palace Ddeokbokki

The rice cake needs to become soft and brown. The veggies will turn soft as well.

Palace Ddeokbokki

Add some more salt, black pepper and sesame seeds to taste. And it’s ready!

Palace Ddeokbokki

You have palace style ddeokbokki – super easy!  🙂

Goodbye, 2012: 10 most viewed posts of the year

December 31, 2012

Hope everyone is having a great New Year’s eve! To wrap up the year, I thought I’d highlight our top 10 most viewed posts during 2012. Our first post ever remains our most viewed post! 🙂

Check out the list below and see if there are any you haven’t read yet.

1. Welcome: Vegan Kimchi Recipe!
2. Vegan Tofu Kangjung (General Tso’s Tofu) Recipe
3. Vegan buffalo hot tofu “wings” recipe
4. Vegan Korean Bulgogi Style Seitan Recipe
5. Red pepper powder (kochukaru / gochugaru)
6. WWATD?!: 2010 Kdrama Awards
7. Vegan Japchae (Korean Sweet Potato Noodles) Recipe
8. The Audacity of Psy – Gangnam Style!
9. Ddeok-ko-chi (Spicy Fried Korean Rice Cake Sticks) Recipe
10. Vegan Shindangdong Style Ddeokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cake) Recipe!

Thanks for another great year and best wishes for the new year!

WWATD?! I Need Romance 2012

December 16, 2012

I Need Romance 2012 poster

Another WWATD?! post wrapping up a Kdrama we finished a little while ago. Fear not, gentle readers, I have a solid excuse for our reduction in posts these days and will share it with you- as soon as I have a chance to post about it! 🙂

Sunnie and I started watching I Need Romance 2012 because we were looking for a light-hearted romantic comedy to help us relax at the end of long days. We hadn’t seen the original series and thought we’d just give it a try as no other dramas had really grabbed our attention. Very shortly after starting to watch, we almost stopped. The show was initially short on romance and on comedy, focusing instead on the passionate, frustrating, and ultimately destructive relationship between Joo Yeol Mae, played by Jung Yoo Mi and her longtime on-again, off-again boyfriend Yoon Suk Hyun, played by Lee Jin Wook. The two live together in a duplex that is more of a divided, single house that was left to them by their parents, and have dated and broken up with each other since they were in high school. The series starts with their moving from friends who are exes to friends “with benefits”, and Yeol Mae, who despite her denials wants more than this from Suk Hyun, quickly starts transitioning from her cheerful self to a frustrated, manipulative, and clinging woman, who is not very likeable, while Suk Hyun’s boyish charms soon seem more like dense immaturity.

As I mentioned, at this point, we were about ready to jump ship. Who needs the stress?! But we just couldn’t find another drama to pull us in, so we came back to give it another go and were very happy that we did. Yeol Mae soon finds herself drifting more and more towards a new man in her life, Shin Ji Hoon, played by Kim Ji Suk, who we last saw as the uber-annoying boy friend in Personal Taste. Here, he’s very likeable and brings the maturity that the other two in the love triangle seem to lack.


Additional characters also lighten things up as we get a very Sex In the Cityish trio of friends, with Yeol Mae’s friends Sun Jae Kyung, played by Kim Ji Woo, who is very much in the unapologetically sexy and devil-may-care Samantha role, and Woo Ji Hee, played by Kang Ye Sol, who plays the prim and proper Charlotte character. Things are further shaken up in Yeol Mae and Suk Hyun’s home when the younger Kang Na Hyun, played by Kim Ye Won, starts living with them while collaborating with Suk Hyun on a project, and unaware of the duo’s history together, starts to fall for him. Her character, kind of annoying in her youthful bluntness and awkwardness, really starts to grow on you as the series progresses.

While we never do get full on rom-com hilarity with this series, what we do get is a very interesting triangle of the three leads, who are all enjoyable to watch. It’s always interesting to me to see someone like Kim Ji Suk, who was so obnoxious and annoying in Personal Taste, get the chance to show he can be charming and likeable in a series like this. We’re currently watching him in Alice in Cheongdamdong as well. What you get with this show is a view of Yeol Mae and Suk Hyun’s long relationship, and all of its passions and frustrations, revealed as more and more is revealed as they peel back the layers. You know there is a strong love on both sides there, but what is that Suk Hyun knows that has kept him from ever being fully there for Yeol Mae but unable to let her go?

We really enjoyed this show. Unfortunately, like too many Kdramas, they just couldn’t nail the conclusion. It’s hard to think of many shows that do – I could count them on one hand, and I Need Romance 2012 is no different. Really enjoyable, building towards an interesting conclusion after episode after episode of hinting, innuendo, and back steps, and finally – eh, ok. Not horrible but not fully satisfying. Here, once again, it’s the main course that is the star and the dessert an afterthought. So because we so thoroughly enjoyed this series, we’re left again wishing for more and what could have been if they just could have nailed the ending! I Need Romance 2012 has solid acting throughout, and a very clever and unique photographic approach to the editing that really lends a nice touch and atmosphere to the series, particularly in the many flash backs to previous moments in Yeol Mae and Suk Hyun’s relationship. We liked the series enough to go and briefly check out the original I Need Romance, but, eh… not so much.

Several nice songs on the drama’s OST too. Somehow, some of the songs remind me in some way of my favorite Kdrama OST ever, Coffee Prince:



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