Korean Food Journey: Gochujang
Time to continue our little Korean food journey. Now that we discussed the iconic dish from Korea, let us move away from dishes. Instead I want to focus on some core ingredients for a while. The first ingredient you will need in your pantry is 고추장 (gochujang). Like kimchi gochujang is fermented product utilizing red peppers. This time, however, the end product is a thick sweet and spicy paste ideal for cooking.
A Spoonful of Gochujang in Everything
The reason why I am so eager to discuss 고추장 (gochujang) is simple. From the moment I started eating Korean food I fell in love with this sweet and spicy, fermented paste. I love it so much I sometimes add it in Western food much to the chagrin of my Korean partner. However, when you taste this red paste you will understand why. Its simply the ideal condiment that brings perfect flavor to anything it is added to. One spoonful of gochujang is right for everything!
고추장 (gochujang) is, as mentioned, a red chili paste that has been fermented for a while. The paste is made of a mixture using dried red chili flakes and sweet, glutinous rice flour mixed with meju, fermented soybeans. The grain is sometimes substituted for different ingredients to create different varieties of gochujang. Furthermore sometimes sweetening agents such as honey is added as well.
In the past Koreans, like kimchi, made 고추장 (gochujang) at home. Now, however, most Koreans simply buy it at supermarkets. Koreans buy it and so should you. You need to discover the addiction that is brought to you by this paste!
The prime function of 고추장 (gochujang) is that of condiment. It is used commonly in stews (찌개- jjigae) and is part of marinades used on meats and fish. Dishes that use gochujang are 고추장찌개 (gochujang jjigae), 돼지불고기 (dwaeji bulgogi) and 닭갈비 (dakgalbi).
Furthermore it is used as topping for dishes such as 비빔밥 (bibimbap) and 냉면 (naengmyeon).
Lastly it is an ingredient to make other sauces such as 쌈장 (ssamjang) and 초고추장 (chogochujang).