A well-executed doenjang jjigae, or fermented soybean paste stew, can be a quiet but powerful exercise in restraint. This simple recipe allows the umami-rich flavor of the doenjang (DWEN-jahng) and the natural sweetness of onion, zucchini and radish to shine. The oil-packed anchovies here may not be as traditional as dried, but they are an effective substitute that I learned from my friend James Park. You can make this dish vegan by skipping the anchovies and swapping the slightly lily-gilding rib-eye steak for cubed medium-firm tofu.
- Serves: 2 persons
- 5tablespoons doenjang, plus more to taste (see Tip)
- 4garlic cloves, crushed and coarsely chopped
- 1small red onion, cut into medium dice
- 1medium zucchini, cut into medium dice
- 5ounces Korean radish, peeled, quartered, then thinly sliced crosswise
- 3ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
- 1(4-inch) square dasima (dried kelp), cracked into small pieces
- 4oil-packed anchovies, drained
- 1tablespoon soy sauce
- 1thin, boneless rib-eye steak (about 6 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces
- Steamed white rice, for serving
Step 1To a medium pot, add the doenjang, garlic, onion, zucchini, radish, mushrooms, dasima, anchovies, soy sauce and 3 cups cold tap water, and season lightly with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to gently boil, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables start to soften and the broth tastes intensely savory and as salty as the sea, about 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning with more doenjang or salt as desired; the stew should be assertively seasoned.
Step 2Stir in the steak and continue gently boiling the jjigae, stirring once or twice, until the meat is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve with bowls of fresh white rice.