Spicy, sweet with a richness that only the combination of doenjang and gochujang can impart. With a stovetop grill, you can enjoy these Korean grilled beef skewers any time of the year.
It goes without saying, of course, that it won’t be a Korean dish unless the flavors are authentic. And that means using the correct seasonings for the marinade.
What is doenjang? Is it the same as miso paste?
Doenjang is Korean fermented soybean paste made with meju (dried soybean bricks) and brine. That might sound like a description of miso paste but doenjang is coarser, has a stronger flavor and isn’t sweet.
In an Asian grocery, Korean soybean paste is either doenjang or ssamjang. The latter is a spicy seasoned paste. To make sure that you’re getting the right thing, read beyond “soybean paste” on the label and find the part that says doenjang.
What is gochujang?
An fermented red chili paste, gochujang is sweetish due to the starch in the glutinous rice which is one of the ingredients. It is combined with doenjang and a few other ingredients to make ssamjang.
Can ssamjang be substituted for doenjang and gochujang?
I understand that for people who don’t cook Korean food at home all that often, it sounds more practical to buy just one paste instead of two. If you don’t like it, it feels less wasteful to throw out one tub instead of two. BUT…
To start with, ssamjang is a table condiment. Doenjang and gochujang are generally cooking ingredients. Still, in a very loose sense, you may substitute ssamjang for doenjang and gochujang to make the marinade for this dish. The downside is that it will be more difficult to make adjustments to suit your taste.
If you want something spicier, there’s no way to up the heat because you don’t have gochujang. If you want something less salty and you dilute the marinade with water, you dilute all the other flavors as well. So, I don’t recommend making the substitution.
Korean Grilled Beef SkewersRecipe by
- 500 grams thinly sliced beef
- Place the beef in a mixing bowl.
- In a small food processor or blender, drop in the garlic and ginger.
- Add the doenjang, gochujang and sugar.
- Pour in the soy sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar and sesame seed oil.
- Add a quarter cup of water and process to make the marinade.
- Taste and adjust the flavor, if you prefer.
- Add the marinade to the beef, mix well and leave for fifteen minutes (the meat will soak up all the marinade).
- Thread the beef with skewers.
- Heat the grill and cook the beef skewers over high heat, in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding, about two minutes per side.
- Serve your Korean grilled beef skewers as an appetizer or with rice as a main course.