Korean Soybean Paste Soup

Twoenjang - Tchigae

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    8

    First-Course Servings

Appears in

Korea is the only country in Asia—except for regions of northern China—that uses beef as part of the regular diet. This delicious soup starts out with strips of steak marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and kimchee—Korean preserved cabbage. The Koreans eat kimchee with almost every meal, and once you’ve tasted it you’ll find it easy to understand why. Kimchee is easy to find in any grocery that sells Korean food products, or you can make it yourself.

Another staple of the Korean diet, and an essential flavoring in this soup, is twoenjang—fermented soybean paste. Twoenjang is the Korean equivalent of Japanese miso, which in a pinch can be used as a substitute.

Ingredients

  • ½ pound steak such as sirloin strip or tenderloin, sliced into strips about 1 by ⅛ inch thick
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped, and crushed to a paste with the side of a chef’s knife
  • ¼ cup dark Japanese soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • ¾ cup kimchee, sliced into strips the same size as the beef
  • 3 tablespoons twoenjang or dark miso
  • 5 cups water or beef or chicken broth
  • 2 green Thai chilies or Jalapeño chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cakes of tofu, preferably firm Chinese type, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 12 dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked in just enough water to cover for 3 hours and quartered, or 12 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, quartered
  • ½ pound daikon, about a 4-inch length, peeled and cut into fine julienne
  • 4 scallions, both white and green parts, finely sliced
  • salt and pepper

Method

In a 2-quart mixing bowl, toss together the steak, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Leave the steak in this marinade for 30 minutes to an hour.

Drain the steak and quickly dry it in paper towels—don’t leave it in the paper towels for more than a minute or two, or it may stick. Discard the marinade.

Heat the peanut oil in a skillet until it just begins to smoke. Add the beef strips and gently stir them around for about 3 minutes, until they brown slightly. Turn the heat down to medium, add the kimchee and the twoenjang, and stir for a few seconds, until the twoenjang coats the pieces of beef.

Add the water, chilies, tofu, mushrooms, and daikon. Simmer the soup gently for about 10 minutes.

Add the scallions and simmer for about 30 seconds more. Season the soup with salt and pepper.