Move over sriracha, Korea’s red pepper paste gochujang is taking the world by storm.
We love Korean food, Dave and I come from different culinary backgrounds but we’re both easily sold with the depth, umami and fermented awesomeness of Korean food. It’s interesting, healthy and has so much history.
It’s not surprising that 2016 seems to be the year of Korean food with the Koreatown cookbook hitting the bestsellers list and gochujang becoming the next big ingredient. No matter what recipe you choose you’re sure to run into a very popular ingredient – gochujang.
Gochujang is fermented soybean chili paste made from gochugaru (red peppers), fermented soybeans and sticky rice. Sometimes known as kochujang, it’s become so popular because of it’s rich umami flavour. Some people call it spicy miso and other say it is sriracha’s more interesting cousin but this red pepper paste is a pillar of Korean cuisine.
Dave always says that a menu has to be written so that people can confidently order a dish. If they can’t pronounce it they won’t order it. One of the biggest fears trying new food is looking stupid, so foods from around the world can be intimidating when you don’t even know how to pronounce it – which is why some restaurants are so smart to number the dishes.
But have no fear. Here’s how to pronounce it.
Where to Get Gochujang?
Traditional gochujang is fermented in jangdokdae, large earthenware pots, that families stored in their backyards for years. You can still make it at home although it’s easily found in a supermarket.
If you live in a city you’ll easily find it in a supermarket if your city has a Korean community. However, if you go to a Korean supermarket you’ll hit the jackpot. If you cannot read Korean make sure you choose a red container and not a brown one as that will be soybean paste or duenjang. Mostly likely there won’t just be one type, but many brands and different levels of spice.
This is good and bad.
Which one should you get? This is where you need to get out of your comfort zone and ask for help. We like spice but not too much so I noticed some brands showed the level of spice in English and others did not. I took a few brands to the checkout and my cashier picked out this medium hot gochujang.
If you can’t get it in your town have no fear Amazon is your friend. You can get a 500g tub like I bought or a squeeze tube of gochujang if you want to take it everywhere with you. Celiacs be aware that most commercial products do contain wheat so you may need to visit a speciality shop or make it on your own,
How to Use Gochujang?
Traditionally gochujang is used in many korean dishes like bibimbap, bulgogi and the dipping sauce for lettuce wraps – ssamjang.
But it can also be used as a marinade, sauce, or dip. It can replace your sriracha or Tabasco sauce. It’s very versatile and works great on chicken wings, Korean beef short ribs, or pork.
TRY THIS FIRST: Korean Gochujang Ribs
I like it in my grilled cheese sandwiches, a squirt in broth soups to make chicken noodle a little less ordinary. Toss vegetables in a bit of it before roasting them in the oven. Add gochujang to your stir fry for an added kick.
How to Store Gochujang?
As a condiment it will keep in your fridge for a long time as long as it’s covered and cold. If it changes colour it’s a sign to toss it out. If you don’t think you’ll use it often it freezes well like tomato paste.