Doenjang soybean is a comfort food in Korea. For Korean people, this soup reminds them of home cooking and their mother’s recipes. This stew is also a source of energy. When a mother feeds this dish to her child, they will feel comfort, and they repeatedly ask for the dish when nostalgia hits as the child has ingrained memories of their mom’s doenjang jjigae.
What is Doenjang Jigae
Well, firstly we have to know the difference between Doenjang Jjigae and Doenjang Guk. Doenjang Guk (된장국) is Korean soybean paste soup, and Doenjang Jjigae (된장찌) is Korean soybean paste stew.
Guk (국) tends to have more broth in comparison to the rest of the ingredients (vegetables and/or meat) than Jjigae (찌개). Doenjang-jjigae (된장찌개) or soybean paste stew is a vibrant, silky jjigae (stew) made with doenjang (soybean paste) and may include ingredients such as vegetables (scallions, aehobak, radishes, potatoes, chili pepper), mushrooms, tofu, seafood (shrimp, clams) and meat (beef, pork).
Often, small amounts of gochujang (red chilli paste) is added for a hint of heat. It is one of Korea’s most popular jjigae, served from breakfast to late at night. It is heartier, thicker and more pungent compared to doenjang-guk (soybean paste soup).
History of Doenjang Jigae
The origin and benefits of doenjang (soy bean paste) are not the same as those of any other food or seasoning throughout the world. Their origin is entirely unique. Koreans started farming and growing beans for the first time. The Korean culture of seasoning is very distinctive.
Historical records show that when King Shinmoon first welcomed his dad and his mother-in-law in year 683, doenjang (soybean paste) was one of the meals prepared and served during the Shilla Dynasty.
Hence, doenjang is one of the most significant foodstuffs in Korea for a long time. Historical records refer to doenjang as, cooked beans. This is another way to describe the salted fermented soybeans. Even so, Koreans have remarkably preserved their traditional flavours until today.
Health benefits of Doenjang Jigae
Soybean paste stew, or Doenjang-jjigae, is made with tofu, zucchini and other ingredients, seasoned with soybean paste. This paste, made from fermented soybeans, is further seasoned to bring additional flavour to the broth.
The primary ingredient that regulates the general flavour of the broth is the soybean paste. Both soybean paste and kimchi are very famous fermented food. The paste is made from fermented soybeans. It adds flavour to the food and helps to increase nutritional benefits as fermented soybeans have higher antioxidant activity than non-fermented soybeans.
In October 2016, the Korea Food Research Institute said they have found live lactobacillus in soybean paste. According to the institute, this lactobacillus helps to boost the immune system and protects internal organs, prevents colitis and has anti-influenza qualities.
You can also add green herbs such as wild chives and shepherd’s purse to boost your appetite, particularly in the spring, as both crops are great for your digestion and are an excellent remedy for insomnia.
In the spring, many people add zucchini, as well. Anchovies can also be added, along with red pepper paste to make a thick stew, dubbed gang doenjang jjigae (강된장찌개).
Where to find Doenjang Jigae in Malaysia
Not many Korean restaurants in Malaysia serve Doenjang Jjigae. For those that want to give it a try, you may visit Da Sa Rang (Subang Jaya) which serves doenjang jjigae at the affordable price of RM19.00. You can also try the beef doenjang jjigae set with rice at Shinmapo Korean BBQ (The Gardens Mall).
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