I have a recipe for you all (those of you who dare to try this dish) that always makes me reminisce of Mom’s home cooking. Oh my goodness! Never in my life did I think that I’d miss Mom’s cooking simply because I grew up eating it and I was so…used to it. Never again will I take her food for granted! Lesson learned.
Now that I’m married and live about 30 minutes away from my parents, which thankfully isn’t terribly far, I enjoy my Korean roots and delicious Korean dishes. In fact, this past year I’ve been discovering just how proud I am to be Korean.
The other day I went out to S-Mart, a great Korean grocery store near our home, and purchased all the necessary ingredients to make this dinner.
Alright! I confess…I didn’t actually make the meat nor the veggie side dishes. Who has time to make all of this within 2 hours?! Well, I’m hoping that someday I can plan it out ahead of time and go on a Korean side dish-making-marathon.
If you go into Korean markets, they will always have a decent selection of different marinated meats, which one has to cook on the pan or a grill. This time I purchased 2 lbs. of 불고기, or as English speakers would call it–Bulgogi.
The one thing that I did put lots of effort into was the fermented bean stew. Korean food is known to taste bold, spicy, and rather unique. We love to eat pretty much everything that’s been fermented! And this stew is proof of that because it includes the ingredient named Dwen-jang (fermented beans).
I have to note, however, that I forgot to add one essential but still optional ingredient called 청국장 (chong-gook-jjang). This interesting ingredient
stinks smells very strong and is somewhat of a longer fermented type of bean paste. Thus, my stew wasn’t as bold tasting as it should be, but it worked and Greg loved it!
It’s like pre-packaged “surprise”! [Source]
Some people prefer to leave it out altogether and instead add some spicy pepper paste to this traditional stew, but my mom always taught me that chong-gook-jjang rends the most potent and delicious flavor. I would have to agree!
Fermented Bean Stew [된장찌개]
- 2~3 C of water (depending on ingredients, etc.)
- 3 TBSP fermented bean paste (refer to 1st bean paste picture)
- 1 TBSP stronger fermented bean paste (refer to 2nd bean paste picture–optional)
- 1 tsp Korean crushed hot pepper
- 1/3 C chopped red bell peppers
- half a block of firm tofu, cubed in 1×1″
- 1 C cubed potatoes
- 1 whole cubed Korean squash (or zucchini)
- 1/2 C sliced mushrooms
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 chopped garlic cloves
- 3~4 dried anchovies (optional)
- 4 green onions, cut in 3 inches
- Pour water into a pot (or stone pot if you have one) and add all the fermented bean pastes, hot pepper, bell pepper, potato, onion, garlic, and anchovies if you choose to use it. Cook it on medium-high heat. Stir it gently so that the paste dissolves, and let it come to a boil.
- Once it boils, add the tofu, squash, and mushrooms. I add this later on because these ingredients tend to cook faster than the former ingredients. Simmer for at least 12 minutes on low-medium heat. Stir gently every now and then.
- When the flavors have come together rather well, add the green onions and cook for another 4~5 minutes. And voila!
This stew seems to pair up really well with bulgogi meat, rice, and some spicy kimchi on the side!
And although I might have scared you a bit with all these crazy Korean ingredients, I hope you trust me when I say that although the ingredients themselves are really unappealing on their own, the final outcome is always amazing and unforgettable!
I hope you have a blessed day and stay in touch! Eat well, be well, and love a ton!
Do you miss Mom’s cooking a lot? If so, what is a particular dish?
Have you tried Korean food?
Are you a spicy or mild food type of person?