Dwan-Jjang Gook (Soybean Soup)

It’s really unclear how to spell Korean words in English. Sometimes I think they sound one way, but then the conventional spelling that most people online is completely different. Anyway – I think it should be spelled “dwan-jjang” but I have seen “doenjang” and “ddanjjang” and some others. Regardless of the English spelling, dwan-jjang is fermented soybean paste. It’s made in a variety of ways, but One Fork, One Spoon wrote a little bit about it, so hop on over to read up if you are interested.

Personally, I find the word “fermented” to be a bit off putting, which is why I excluded it from the title of my post. Anyway – this is a quick way to make dwan-jjang gook, or fermented soybean soup. From start to finish it takes less than 30 minutes. I start my rice first, and then start on the soup. I usually make my rice in a cast iron pot or a stoneware pot… Let me know if you want me to do a more in depth post on making rice without a rice cooker.

A quick note before I do get started, for people with gluten intolerance or sensitivity to wheat, this is NOT the soup for you. Many of the commercially manufactured dwan-jjang pastes include some form of wheat… if you are set on eating the soup, you will have to do significantly more research into what types of commercially produced paste do not contain gluten.

Dwan-Jjang Gook (the way my mother makes it)

  • 1/2 cup of dried anchovies, or “mael-chi” 
  • 4 cups of water
  • 3 tablespoons of dwan-jjang paste (I suggest started at 1 tablespoon and working your way up as your paste may differ in flavor and saltiness than mine.
  • Scallions (optional)
  • 1-3 teaspoons of soy sauce (also, for gluten sensitive folks, almost all commercially manufactured soy sauce contains wheat so watch out for this also)
  1. Boil4 cups of water with the anchovies for about 20 minutes
  2. Remove the anchovies from the water and discard
  3. Muddle the gwan-jjang paste 1 tablespoon at a time into the anchovy stock, and bring to a simmer
  4. Add soy sauce to taste
  5. You can add any variety of vegetable at this point. My favorite is spinach.
  6. Pour the soup over rice and enjoy!!

Easy right?!

Little anchovies in water

SONY DSC

Washed spinach leavesSONY DSC

Skimming the anchovies out of the soupSONY DSC

Dwan-jjang pasteSONY DSC

Adding the paste to the soupSONY DSC

White rice and spinach leaves (I usually just pour the hot soup over the leaves so my spinach is “just” wilted, but feel free to add them to your soup as it simmers.SONY DSC

Soup, rice, and spinachSONY DSC

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