What is Gochujang ?
A fermented red chili paste that has an earthy spicy salty and a slight sweetness that can be eaten alone as a dipping or topping sauce to rice bowls or vegetables or used as a base seasoning for many dishes.
Gochujang is a unique Korean cooking ingredient and is made with chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soybean powder, barley malt powder and salt.
Here's my recipe for making the full traditional version- How to make Gochujang at Home. Quicker versions can be made, however, it is traditionally fermented over a period of months in earthenware. It can be made or purchased in varying levels of spiciness from mild (순한맛), medium (보통 매운맛), spicy (매운맛).
Not To Be Confused With
Siracha - which has an added sourness and is also missing the earthy and funky fermented flavor.
Dubanjang (Chinese Chili Bean Sauce)
Where and What To Buy
Korean Grocery stores, many regular grocery stores and also online. Gochujang has low gluten but most is not wheat-free. Also, the homemade version is made with rice syrup but many commercially made versions list corn syrup as the 1st ingredient. Also, store-bought gochujang are often not really fermented but more of a flavored mix of different ingredients.
CJ has a gluten free version that you can buy so look for GF labeled ones.
How to Use/Cook
Gochujang is used in marinades, sauces, stews, salad dressings and even in pancakes. Because of its' umami, spicy and salty flavor, it adds great depth of flavor to any dish, not just spiciness.
It's different from Siracha or Tobasco sauce because of the added fermented umami flavor while having no sour flavor.
How to Clean/Store
Unopened Gochujang can be stored in a cool dry place, however it should be refrigerated after opening. Gochujang can last years in the refrigerator if stored in an airtight container or jar. Avoid keeping gochujang in direct sunlight or heat.
Homemade Gochujang is fat-free, low in sugar and carbohydrates. The soybean component of gochujang provides a source of protein. Store-bought gochujang can often contain wheat, corn and/or starch syrup which will change the health benefits and levels of sugar (especially when the #1 ingredient is mulyeot 물엿 or syrup) as well as the quality.
It is believed among Koreans that when a person has a weak stomach, gochujang can be eaten to alleviate the symptoms and aid in digestion.