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. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Check this out. I posted it on the forum to share the information with others.

  2. Hey Maangchi!
    Could you tell me where to get soybean paste recipe?

  3. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    You can use soy bean paste for so many different kinds of dishes. I don’t know much about black bean paste. I use it only for jjajangmyun. Why don’t you ask your questions on the forum on my website? You may get good tips from someone else! Thank you!

  4. Hi Maanghi,

    I was wondering if you can use the soy bean paste or black bean paste for anything else other than soup. Do you have any non-stew/soup recipes with these ingredients? Thank you. Love your blog! I’ve cooked many of your recipes and all are delicious!

  5. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

  7. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    It’s interesting that you found me by searching the word “food” on the internet. I feel honored to be in the food category. : )
    Thank you for your support! You bought my book even though you can download it for free.

  8. I am always trying to find videos and podcasts to take to work with me. I did a search for “food” recently and found you by pure chance. I absolutely love your videos, your style, your commitment to such lovely traditional food.

    I watched all of your videos in two days and now I’m looking forward to more more more. I was inspired by you to cook something new, but it didn’t taste as good as your dishes look:) Maybe with more practice.

    I did buy your book, so that will surely help.

    Thanks so much for all your hard work and excellent site. I’ll put a link to you on my own site and tell everyone I know to try Korean cuisine!!

  9. Maangchi joined 7/08 & has 12,047 comments

    to make meju. only soybeans are used.

  10. Hey Maangchi! I was asking you about home made doenjang the other day – can’t find the thread now but thanks for the wikipedia link. I can see why you wouldn’t want to make it anymore since it sounds time consuming and labor intensive. I’ve been looking everywhere for instructions on how to make the meju and I’m surprised not to be able to find any. I think home made doenjang is Korea’s best kept secret! You could make a fortune off it Maangchi! Here’s my main question: Do I need to get anything other than soybeans to make meju? If you can answer that I’ll love you forever! I can see from watching your blog that you really know what you’re talking about.

  11. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Hi, keith,
    Thanks a lot! (kam sa ham ni da!) : )

  12. Dear Hammer, (Maangchi:)

    Thank you! I love your videos, you have a great personality and it comes across well on camera. I worked in kitchens years ago and sometimes miss it. Your knife skills are outstanding and best of all you also appear to have all your fingers. I live in Washington, DC and we have a large Korean population, you have made them proud.

    Thank you again for sharing,

  13. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Hi, Keith,

    Yes, it is a littl different taste between Japanese miso and Korean doenjang even though it’s from the same ingredient soybeans.

    I sometimes use japanese miso when I make miso soup which has not many ingredients. For miso soup, after making delicious stock using dried anchovies, I just use a little bit of japanese soybean paste (miso),very little sea plant(miyuk), and a few cubes of tofu.
    And sprinkle a few chopped green onion, that’s all! I just enjoy the soup as it is.

    However, Korean style doenjang jjigae(soybean stew)needs a lot of ingredients as you see in my “Tofu stew…” video.

    Thank you very much for your interest in my recipes.

  14. Hi Maangchi,

    Is there a difference between this soybean paste and the Japanese paste used for miso? I live in the Washington, DC area and have been shopping at several Korean markets for years. Your videos and website taught me so much about the many different ingredients that I have passed over before. I am much better educated and can’t wait to try some of your recipes.

    Thank you and keep up the good work,

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