CheongGukJang – Ultimate Stinky Ass Soup


NOTE: This is the “Dead Body Soup” that Andrew Zimmern tried on Bizarre Foods. This name comes from an urban legend of Korean students in Germany making the soup and the German neighbors calling the police, fearing that there was a dead body in the apartment. To know more about the filming of the South Korea episode, the foods and the restaurants, click here.

One of my favorite aspects of Korean cuisine is the stinky soybean pastes and soups, including Doenjang Jjigae, Ssamjang, and CheongGukJang 청국장. I had been wanting to figure out how to make this at home for a long time. I recently purchased some Korean cookbooks and thought I’d take the task of making a stinky soup. Besides, I finally had made my dashi.

Earlier in the week at the store, I had found this package of extra stinky soybean paste in what looked like a yogurt container. The cashier laughed when she rang it up and showed it to her fellow cashier, saying what I’m sure was, “Look what this crazy foreigner is buying.”

This is a blurry picture of what the inside looks like.

Since I finally was going to make this soup, I made it special by cooking it directly in the bowl — another cool whacky Korean idea. I put some dashi in the bowl and set it on medium flame.


I then added some chopped onions.

When it started to boil, I added some kimchi.

Then maybe three tablespoons of CheongGukJang paste.

After smoothly boiling it for a while, I finished it off with some mushrooms, chopped green onion, and tofu. You can add salt to taste, but the CheongGukJang paste and kimchi add a lot of salt to the soup already.

I carefully placed the boiling soup bowl on my commemorative “Dokdo is Ours” towel on a tray. This soup/stew is so strong, you need a bowl of rice to balance it. It’s funny because it has no meat in it (unless you count the anchovy essence in the dashi) yet it tastes like a meaty soup, like a chili or cheese soup. I am far from being a vegetarian, yet it feels wholesome to not need a greasy slab of flesh with every meal.

ADDENDUM: I told my girlfriend about my soup. She suggested to also add a dab of gochujang (red pepper paste), and throw in some thinly sliced hot peppers and garlic at the end.

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18 thoughts on “CheongGukJang – Ultimate Stinky Ass Soup”

  1. Ha! Love this post. I grew up with the stinky stuff. Never bothered to individually identify any of it until i was older and realized that yeah, the stinky shit is GOOD. most of the time.

    found your blog recently. it’s great fun. and great to get a new perspective.

    Reply
  2. hi, i’ve been dropping by now and then.
    food, mmmm. love the stuff. and i can never get enough korean food. i wish my husband liked kimchi. : ) he still thinks it smells like rotten garbag.

    Reply
  3. It takes a special person to like fermented foods. I wonder if it comes from a genetic survival need of our ancestors. From what I’ve read, some foods supply us with more nutrients in fermented form, along with the obvious benefit of boosting our immune systems.

    Reply
  4. yeah, “rotten garbag”. I eventually had to tell him not make any comments when I’ve had the kimchi jar out. he’s been kind enough to oblige me. and i don’t think he’d believe the health benefits of kimchi, though it had crossed my mind to mention it to him. : ) thankfully he loves spicey food though!

    Reply
  5. Hi, I just found your blog after googling “oyster stew” images. You food descriptions are great, images helpful. I’m a foodie too, lived in Korea (Seoul and Namhae Do) for a while and am also from the gulf coast (Pensacola). This is a great site, keep up the good work.
    Since I haven’t read through the entire blog, have you explored the food cart issue yet? You know, all the different fish sticks and sticky cakes for snacks? Thanks for sharing your experiences in Korea. It’s has the best food! What I wouldn’t give for some crispy spicy chicken and a cold, cold beer.

    Reply
  6. I really want to do food carts. Usually when I’m at a food cart, I don’t have my camera. Bad habit. Some of us have been talking about doing street food walking tours in Seoul. I’ve done a bit about odeng and the Crab Man. I want to do more.

    maryeats.com has a good video on street food.

    Reply
  7. I love Cheonggukjang, but I have to chime in and say that it is NOT vegetarian unless you make the stock sans anchovy, and even then vegetarians have to be careful to make sure they get a kimchi variety that hasn’t been made with fish sauce or by throwing fish right in there with the kimchi. It’s pescetarian (sometimes, but rarely, known as pesco vegetarian). Vegetarian as a standard (also known as lacto-ovo vegetarian) avoids anything that requires the death of an animal to make, like broth made from dried fish or gummy candy made from horse hooves.

    Reply

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