2.247 Pulmuone Haemul Doenjang Jjigae (with recipe)


9 (Fri) September 2011

Pulmuone Haemul Doenjang Jjigae


by me

at home

-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

with W and DJ

At the outset of GMTD, I described doenjang jjigae (된장찌개) as “one of the most popular and most commonly eaten broth dishes in Korea” (see 1.039 Doenjang Jjigae + Pan-Fried Samgyeopsal) but never really gave it proper attention (see most recently 1.174 Doenjang Jjigae). I seek to rectify this long neglect by presenting my recipe for the dish.

Pulmuone is a local company that produces a wide variety of foodstuffs, particularly quick-fix items, such as sauce bases.  Although they don’t market their products or their image very aggressively, they’ve somehow managed to cultivate a reputation for quality and reliability.  They were pushing organic before it became chichi (not that I need to make things more complicated, but I’m going to try incorporating dictionary.com’s corresponding Word of the Day into each post).  Personally, it’s the only Korean brand to which I would claim brand loyalty, although I don’t know why and can’t remember how it started.  But it’s gotten to the point where I’ll buy Pulmuone-brand ice over others if given a choice.

One of my favorite Pulmuone products is their doenjang jjigae sauce base, specifically the haemul (해물) (seafood) variety.  First, it’s convenient: unlike pure doenjang, which requires a stock and additional seasonings, this sauce base just needs water.  More important, however, I like the taste of it: unlike pure doenjang, which can have a funky smell of varying degrees resulting from and depending on the length of the fermentation process, this sauce base is virtually funk-free.  I much prefer it this way, though purists (who equate funkier with better) would likely disagree.  Although it’s a seafood sauce in name, and the label does indicate that it contains several types of seafood extracts, the finished stew doesn’t overtly taste like seafood.  Adding clams or shrimp, for example, would give it seafood flavor and make it look like a seafood stew.  I’ve never felt the need because I believe that it’s fine as is.


1 (130 ml) package of Pulmuone Haemul Doenjang sauce base
500 ml water
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped large scallion (daepa)
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
3 cups chopped green cabbage
1 cup cubed tofu
2 tbsp sliced thin scallion (jjokpa)

If served as a main dish, it should be enough for 2; but if served as a side dish, it should be enough for 4.

1.  In a medium-sized pot over high heat, add the sauce base + water and bring to the boil.

Tip: The instructions on the package call for 400 ml of water, but I find that the broth is too salty with that amount, so I add 100 ml more; even 200 ml more would be acceptable, making it a milder guk (soup).

Tip: The instructions call for the water and other ingredients be added in stages: first 200 ml of water with items that take longer to cook (e.g., potatoes and zucchini), and then the other 200 ml of water with the sauce base, and finally tofu and chili peppers at the end.  I don’t see why the water and sauce base can’t all be put in from the beginning.

2.  Setting aside the thin scallions, add the remaining ingredients, bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Tip: Here, I used 1 cup of shiitake mushrooms because that’s what was available in the fridge.  Feel free to use any combination of vegetables in whatever amount that will fit in the pot, including other types of mushrooms, potatoes, zucchini, celery, etc.

Note: 3 cups of cabbage may seem like a lot at first, but the cabbage will immediately wilt down; even 4 cups would work.

4.  When the vegetables are just tender, remove from the heat and sprinkle the scallions on top.

5.  Serve with steamed rice or as an accompaniment to Korean BBQ.

(See also FOODS.)

(See also PLACES.)

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