Central to Korean food is the tradition of fermentation which gave birth to several health-benefitting food varieties including kimchi, ganjang (soy sauce), gochujang (chili paste) and doenjang (soybean paste). The fermented nature of the dish aids in digestion and cancer prevention, among many others.
Doenjang-jjigae is milder than its comrades in the stew department when it comes to spice levels. The color of the stew is an easy giveaway, when compared to pop of red in kimchi-jjigae, doenjangjjigae possesses a brownish color. The soybean paste is perhaps one of the many deeply-rooted traditions in Korean cuisine as the records show that this product of soybean fermentation was produced earlier than the Three Kingdoms period.
The abundance of Js aside, what makes doenjang-jjigae a particularly special dish is its texture given the amount of ingredients included in the dish. Usually served with a bowl of steaming rice, the doenjang-jjigae is the perfect accompaniment to polished white rice, an empty stomach that craves for relief and a body in need of nourishment.
Served in black earthenware pots (ttukbaegi), this dish is usually overflowing with other ingredients integral to it such as zucchini, onions, potatoes, tofu and seafood, the latter of which usually varies according to taste. The seafood choice could either be shrimp or clams, but there’s honestly more fun when you’re stuck with opening the clams and we call this delayed gratification.