Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

Food for Dummies: 된장국 (Fermented Soybean Paste Soup)


Hi everyone! I’m going to post a recipe for 된장국 (dweinjangguk-fermented soybean paste soup). It’s one of my favorite Korean soups, and there are so many different accepted varieties of it that I don’t feel bad posting my own version. The following recipe is a combination of the process my friend showed me and my own alterations, so while it may not be completely traditional, it’s still pretty tasty!


Half a head of cabbage
1 heaping spoonful of 고추장 (Gochujang: Red pepper paste)
1 to 3 peppers (optional)
1 spoonful of anchovy powder
About 4 heaping spoonfuls of 된장 (Dweinjang: Fermented soybean paste)
300 grams of tofu
1 or 2 small onions
One squash


Warning: Your kitchen will smell really bad at first (anchovy powder). This is normal. Don’t worry, it will later smell amazing.


1. Take a large pot and fill it three quarters full of water and set it to boil. Take a smaller pot, also fill it three quarters full of water and set it to boil.

2. Roughly chop the cabbage head into medium-sized pieces and rinse them.

3. Put the cabbage into the small pot of boiling hot water. Let it cook for three minutes.

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4. When the water in the larger pot comes to a boil, put in the anchovy powder.

5. Take the soybean paste and place it in a fine-meshed sieve over the large pot. Use the sieve to evenly distribute the soybean paste and get rid of clumps. Do this one spoonful at a time. Also add in the red pepper paste.


6. Drain the water from the cabbage, and put the cabbage into the larger pot.

7. Chop up the onion and peppers into medium-sized pieces. Put them in the larger pot.

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8. Chop the squash into thin, half-circle slices.

9. Chop the tofu into medium-sized chunks.

10. Lower the temperature and place the tofu and squash into the pot.

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11. Place the lid on pot and leave the soup to simmer for ten or more minutes.

12. Serve hot with rice (rice recipe not included). Enjoy!


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안녕하세요! My name is Emily and when I started this blog I had received a 2010 – 2011 F*lbright grant to teach English in South Korea.  I then decided to apply to renew my grant, so I am now staying in Korea until July 2012. This blog is not an official F*lbright Program blog, and the views expressed are my own and not those of the F*lbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

I graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in Philosophy Pre-Law and Classical Civilizations, and found myself 3 months later teaching English at SGHS. The town that I taught in, SG, is a small town of 12,000 people, an “읍” (eup) rather than a “시” (shi – city), and though it was sometimes hard teaching in such a small town I really enjoyed the unique experience of being the first foreign teacher SGHS had ever had. I lived in the largest part of the county which is significantly bigger (40,000 people) than the town the school is situated in, but is also considered rural by Korean standards.

During my second grant period (2011-2012) I decided to change schools and I currently teach at CPHS which is located in an even smaller town than previously, in Jeollanamdo.

This blog is meant to serve as a reflection not only of being a Native English Speaking teacher in Korea, but also of living as a foreigner in rural Korea.