Is it just me, or do you ever ponder about what food is out there that you’ve never heard of or tasted, but you’d absolutely love?
After years of being exposed to Korean food on a pretty regular basis from when I was about 11 years old, I started to think about other ethnic foods I’d never tasted (because until then, I really had only eaten Italian and British dishes.) Since that time, I’ve fallen in love with many Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Mexican and Peruvian dishes, just to name a few, but I still wonder what else is “out there” as I’ve not really travelled outside of North America and Europe. I’d like to share one of my favorite soups with you, which I learned about from my Korean friends, Soon and Oke, who also introduced me to so many other amazing Korean dishes like Mung Bean Pancakes. Doenjang Chigae is made from a soybean paste base (it does contain wheat, so it is not gluten free) and includes lots of healthy ingredients like onion, garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, tofu, green onions and jalapeños. It is spicy, but if you don’t like it too spicy, you can omit the hot pepper paste and jalapeños. If you order this in a Korean restaurant, it will come out in a scorching-hot stone bowl, bubbling away like magma in a volcano.
My mother ordered it once and wondered why there was an empty bowl nearby, and I suggested that maybe she was supposed to dish it into that bowl to eat it. We asked the waitress towards the end of our meal, and she told my mother that she had actually eaten it out of the serving bowl. If you would know my mother, you’d realize just how horrified she was to hear this. Of course, being the supportive family that we are…the rest of us just had a good laugh!
Doenjang Chigae aka Korean Bean Paste Soup
6 cups (48 oz) beef stock (including a bit of beef if desired) I used water with 2 tbsp of Better than Boullion
3 tablespoons soybean paste (found at Korean markets)
1 teaspoon or tablespoon Korean hot pepper paste (optional)
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and chopped
1 medium, or 2 small potatoes
8 oz firm tofu, diced
4 oz enoki (or sliced, plain white) mushrooms
2 or 3 green onions, chopped
1 or 2 jalapeños (optional) chili pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
cooked sticky rice (to serve)
Place broth, soybean paste, hot pepper paste (if using) in a pot and bring to a boil.
Once it comes to a boil, add the chopped potatoes, and simmer for 5 or 6 minutes.
Next, add the zucchini, garlic and onion, continue to simmer about 5 minutes.
Now add the mushrooms…
then the tofu.
Lastly, add the green onions and jalapeños.
Let the soup come to a boil for a minute, so it’s very hot, then immediately place into warmed serving bowls and add a tablespoon or so of cooked rice.
If this soup won’t warm you up on a cold winter’s day (it was 32ºF here in LA today) nothing will!
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