Gochujang entered into the American culinary vocabulary over the course of the last decade. This powerfully-flavored chile paste—sweet, smoky, hot, and acidic—has been part of Korea’s food culture for 500 years or so, and is seen more as a defining ingredient rather than a sauce. In an effort to preserve food supplies in the face of long, cold winters, much of Korean cuisine is built around the process of fermentation. This creates delicious dishes, but fermenting foods can be incredibly time-consuming. Authentic gochujang is fermented for at least three months and as long as a year. The flavor is extraordinary but a months-long prep time isn’t particularly in sync with the American culinary style. With that in mind, we created a gochujang paste that tastes great without fermentation and is ready in minutes instead of months.
We used gochugaru, our Korean Chile Flakes, as the base for this paste. It has a bright, mid-level heat with a robust berry essence and a bit of smoke lingering at the bottom of its flavor profile, which we boosted with some Smoked Mesquite Salt. Brown rice syrup is traditionally added to gochujang for delicate sweetness; we chose to sweeten this with wildflower honey and sweet mirin. While most honeys would work here, as would agave nectar, we recommend against the aggressive flavor of buckwheat honey.
Gochujang would be nothing without its fermented tang and to replicate that, we used the clean acidity of rice vinegar. This mild vinegar enhances the flavors of honey and chile flakes in a classic contrast—sweet and sour, hot and sour. These flavors tend toward the upper part of the palate, so we tapped our Organic Red Miso powder to deliver a deep, umami punch and add a little more fermented funk. Once you stir all this together it becomes almost peanut butter-like in its consistency. Use this powerfully flavored paste as a building block for umami-laden dishes like our Korean Chicken Wings, full of smoke and tartness and a little bit of chile pepper sizzle. Make it a meal with Oi Muchim, our spicy Korean Cucumber Salad, and a frosty beer or a tall, icy glass of lemonade.
1. Bring water to a simmer
2. Add all ingredients and stir until a thick paste forms