Soybean paste

Doenjang 된장

Doenjang is a signature ingredient in Korean cooking, used in many dishes, dips, soups and stews in Korean cuisine. It’s deep and rich, nutty and full of umami. Soup or stew made with doenjang are the most iconic and delicious of all Korean dishes.

Today most Koreans use commercially made soybean paste (it may or may not be labeled “fermented”), but traditionally we make it at home. The process takes about a year, my recipe is here if you want to try. It’s usually sold in brown tubs at the Korean grocery store. Keep in the fridge and use within 3 months. The top of the paste may oxidize a bit and turn brown, but it’s still edible.

It’s made by grinding soybeans into a thick paste and forming it into blocks that are dried and fermented for months before being soaked in brine for a few more months. The liquid becomes Korean soup soy sauce and the solids become doenjang.



This is my favorite brand, “Haechandul.” However, Wang or Soon Chang can also be pretty good.

Soy Bean Paste (Doenjang)I prefer doenjang that is not too dark or light, but a nice brown color like this one.

doenjangThis one looks a too light to me.




  1. ellekimura Malaysia joined 8/13 & has 1 comment

    Dear Maangchi,

    is the Haechandul , wang and soon chang brand are suitable for vegetarian and contained any animal substance?

  2. Kamil Poland joined 2/11 & has 3 comments

    Dear Maangchi,

    I just received my long waited soy bean paste but I don’t know if it is good.
    The consistency is just like on the photos you uploaded but the colour is different-it’s dark black. I have never eaten it before so I don’t know if I don’t get ill!?

    Please answer me
    Best wishes,

    • Libelle Germany joined 10/09 & has 30 comments

      Hi there, Kamil! Soy bean paste can come in many different shades of brown. I’ve even had soy bean paste vary in colour from the same manufacturer, I guess every batch is different! ^^ Just make sure its soy bean paste you have and not black bean paste which is used for jja jang myun. Hope that helps. ^^

    • budji Philippines joined 4/16 & has 2 comments

      I’m worried about mine too. Last one I bought from the same brand is light brown, but this one is dark. Expiration date is 2018 so I’m confused if I can use it.

      See full size image

  3. lovex3jennyy New York joined 6/12 & has 8 comments

    Hi Maangchi

    I bought my first soy bean paste yesterday I’am excited to make soups and stew especially for my mother who is going to give birth any minute now!!, But i have a question regarding the paste…it came with a white packet inside and im not sure what am i supposed to do with it.

    Thanks – Jenny

  4. Jasper Philippines joined 5/11 & has 26 comments

    hi maangchi.. do i have to keep this in the refrigerator once i open it?

  5. Isabel Philippines joined 2/10 & has 13 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    Is the Korean soy bean paste the same as the Japanese miso?

  6. ainah Malaysia joined 11/11 & has 2 comments

    Hi..maangchi…I’m from malaysia…I just wanna ask I would like to make kimchi but at my place it’s quite difficult to find sweet rice flour. Is it possible if i replace it with corn starch?Is it the taste still delicious?tQ

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,051 comments

      I would use regular flour instead of starch powder. Good luck with your kimchi making!

    • Muffin21 Dubai joined 6/11 & has 3 comments

      Sweet rice flour is same as glutinous rice flour or also known as sticky rice flour in South East Asia! I can buy them in the Middle East! I’m sure you can buy them in Malaysia! I make kimchi with Maangchi’s recipe..minus the squid. It always turn out excellent! Good luck!

    • medusagurlyeah Adelaide joined 1/14 & has 31 comments

      It’s the flour to make “biji salak”.
      Same thing, just called differently.
      Korean recipes and cooking uses some same ingredients us Sg and Ms ppl use too.

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