Gettin’ jiggy wit’ dwaenjang jigae

Okay…I agree that it’s a corny title and that I’m totally dating myself, but I couldn’t resist. Anyway, this is another dish that I have been futzing with for the past twenty or so years. Jigaes are great in general because they are quick and easy to make, don’t require hard-to-find ingredients (at least with my concoctions) and are robust with flavor. Of course, like every dish, there are a million ways to make this. I’ve had some that included shellfish, potatoes, pork belly, and even SPAM. Regardless, this dish should always be accompanied with rice. I prefer steamed white rice, but the other night I actually had it with some leftover mushroom risotto. Whatever. It totally worked.

I discovered that the key to this recipe is the dried anchovies which you can find in your local Korean grocery store. You’ll find that the anchovies come in different sizes, you want the bigger ones which should be about 1-2 inches long. These are the kind that are usually used in soups. The smaller ones are usually used when making the anchovy banchan. Anyway, if you don’t have any, don’t fret. The jigae is not going to be a total failure without it. Oh and if you have some Littleneck clams, throw some in at the end. They’re ready to serve when the clams open.

Dwaen jang jigae

About 3-4 servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup dwaen jang (fermented soybean paste)
1 tablespoon gochuchang (red pepper paste)

About 6-8 dried anchovies
6 white mushrooms, quartered or diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 package of tofu (I buy the 14 oz. size), diced
2-3 Korean chilies, sliced (I use anaheim peppers as a substitute)
3 cups of water

Saute the garlic and onions in a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat for about 2 minutes or until onions start to soften. Add dwaen jang and gochujang and mix until the onion mixture is coated, about 2 more minutes. Add water, anchovies, zucchini, and mushrooms. Cover and bring to a boil. Add tofu and peppers and simmer on medium high for 15-20 minutes. Voila….dwaen jang jigae!

A note about the anchovies – if you have a large tea infuser or cheesecloth, I would recommend using either for easier clean up. You can break up the little fishies and pack them into the infuser or wrap them up in a cheesecloth. If you don’t have either lying around, fish out the anchovies before serving. Or leave them in. Some people like them. I’m not a big fan.

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