What Is Gochujang, and How Do You Cook With It?

updated Sep 8, 2023
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Have you ever seen those plastic tubs of hot pepper paste in Korean or Asian markets and wondered what it was? It’s gochujang, which is one of the backbone ingredients of Korean cooking. It’s a thick, sticky condiment that’s spicy and very concentrated and pungent in flavor. (It’s often used in recipes alongside kimchi, another beloved Korean condiment.) It’s used in marinades in meat dishes or used to punch up soups and stews. We love the kick and depth of flavor that it adds to everything we stir it into.

Quick Overview

All About Gochujang

  • Gochujang, or red chili paste, is a staple condiment in Korean cooking
  • Made from glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, salt, and sometimes sweeteners
  • Spicy, very concentrated, and pungent in flavor
  • Ultra-versatile and can be used in marinades and dipping sauces, or to flavor soups and stews

What Is Gochujang?

Gochujang is a red chili paste that also contains glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, salt, and sometimes sweeteners. It’s a thick, sticky condiment that’s spicy and very concentrated and pungent in flavor. Heat levels can vary between brands, so check the packaging to see if it’s labeled with any kind of spice-level indicator.

How to Use Gochujang

Think of gochujang as similar to miso paste — a little goes a long way, but it’s also very versatile. Gochujang can be used in:

  • Marinades for meat dishes like Korean bulgogi
  • Stirred into dipping sauces
  • Used to punch up stews or soups.

The thick texture of gochujang means that it is a bit difficult to use straight up, so it is usually thinned out with a liquid of some sort. Also remember that if the gochujang contains sugar, searing or grilling meats marinated with it have a tendency to burn easily.

How to Store Gochujang

Once opened, gochujang should be stored in the refrigerator. Like miso, it has quite a long shelf life, as long as it hasn’t dried out or changed in color. Should you find yourself with a lot of gochujang leftover, remember that it can be used up in lots of different ways.

Credit: Alice Choi

Gochujang Recipes

Looking for some ideas to use gochujang? Here are some of our favorite recipes that include this savory and spicy condiment: