Gochujang has been a part of Korea’s food culture for over 1,000 years but only recently has it become popular among Westerners. It has become a trendy ingredient as Western tastes have grown more cosmopolitan. Also, cooks have been creative with gochujang so that its use is no longer limited to traditional Korean dishes.
Gochujang is made with meju, which is dried and fermented soybeans. Boiled soybeans are formed into blocks before being dried. The meju is combined with rice flour, salt, and a significant amount of Korean red pepper. Many gochujang producers will include a sweetener. The blend is then fermented for months. This paste’s versatile flavor profile allows it to enhance dishes from all over the world. Take a look at some of these delicious (and often creative) gochujang uses to make full use of it.
Spanish soups may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Korean condiments, but gochujang is a surprisingly effective addition to this dish. Not only does the flavor from the fermented soybean enhance the tangy notes of gazpacho, but gochujang can also enhance the color as well. Gochujang’s deep redness brightens the color that gazpacho gets from tomatoes.
The savory quality of gochujang makes it a great addition to marinades. With a gochujang marinade, you get the savory and salty characteristics of garlic and soy sauce matched with a little sweetness. You can use it by itself but because of its thick consistency, you will probably need to thin it out with a liquid. Your options are varied and include vinegar, stock and beer. Note also that if you plan to grill food that has been marinated in gochujang, you will need to do so on a low heat as it burns easily because of its sugar content.
Bibimbap is one of the better known Korean dishes in the west. The name translates to mixed rice. It consists of a bowl with rice, meat and vegetables along with eggs. The combination is greatly enhanced by the use of gochujang. As in many other dishes, you will need to thin the gochujang out to get it to the right consistency for mixing in with everything else.
The name of the tteokbokki dish can be spelled in a number of ways including topokki and ddeokbokki. It translates to stir-fried rice cake. Tteokbokki is one of the traditional applications for gochujang. The dish consists of chewy rice cakes in gochujang. Other ingredients like seafood, eggs, and even hotdogs may be added to it.
Soondubu jjigae is a spicy stew made with tofu, kimchi, and meat. It features a base of anchovy stock and gochujang. The gochujang, anchovy flavor and tofu combine to create an intense umami note that makes this dish a classic Korean comfort food.
One of the oldest and most beloved uses for gochujang is gochujang fried rice. The main ingredients are literally just rice and gochujang. Secondary ingredients include eggs and scallions.
French fry dip
You can combine gochujang with ketchup to make a spicy and flavorful dip for French fries.
Otherwise known as a Korean dipping sauce, ssamjang is a spicy paste made with gochujang. It also includes a soybean paste called doenjang and assortment of other seasonings including onions and sesame oil.