My essential weeknight recipe isn't a specific dish but a piquant and versatile condiment, dipping sauce, and marinade that livens up everything from tofu to meat, vegetables, dumplings, and noodles. Of all the recipes I have learned from my partner's Korean mother, yangnyeomjang is one of the most indispensable. Comprised of several of my pantry essentials like soy sauce, sesame oil, and gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder), the sauce is spicy, salty, nutty, a little sweet, and rich with flavor.
In addition to serving yangnyeomjang as a dipping sauce for Korean pancakes and dumplings, we spoon it over simple fried tofu or steamed vegetables (it's especially good with broccoli), toss it with soba and all kinds of Asian noodles, and use it as a marinade for meat, tofu, and tempeh. I can't tell you how many times this sauce has come to the rescue when we're too busy, lazy, or low on main ingredients to cook something complicated!
Yangnyeomjang - Korean Seasoning Sauce
Makes 1/4 cup
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons gochugaru
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, crushed or whole
1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 scallion, chopped
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust quantities, if desired.
Related: Recipe: Kimchi Tofu Summer Rolls
(Image: Emily Ho)