In this week's recipe for bibimbap, I mentioned gochujang, the brick-red Korean condiment rich with spicy, umami flavor. A jar or tub of gochujang is well worth having around, and not just for cooking traditional Korean dishes. In English, gochujang is frequently referred to as Korean red pepper paste. Besides red chiles, it contains glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, salt, and sometimes sweeteners such as corn syrup, sugar, or honey. Somewhat like a spicy miso paste, gochujang is thick and concentrated, and it can be used in varying amounts depending on the desired level of pungency and heat.
Korean dishes that call for gochujang include bibimbap, ddukbokki (spicy rice cakes), and certain types of jjigae (stew). It can also be mixed with ingredients like vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and garlic to make sauces and dressings. With its complex spicy-savory-salty-sweet flavor, I like adding gochujang to stir-fried vegetables and using it in marinades for meat and tofu. Meanwhile, Anjali uses it to make spicy Fried Chicken Wings.
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
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