Gochujang: A Great Addition to Any Meal

Gochujang: A Great Addition to Any MealRepeat after me: “GO-CHOO-JONG.” Goooo-choo-jang. No, it’s not a kitschy card game enjoyed by the wiser, more esteemed folks. It’s a remarkably delicious Korean chili paste. It may take some getting used to in terms of pronunciation, but trust me, it’s an amazing ingredient with which you’ll want to familiarize yourself sooner than later.

With its origins in Korean cuisine, gochujang is a fermented chili paste made with chili powder, rice, salt, and fermented soybeans. This popular condiment can be found at most Asian markets, but it’s most readily available at Korean stores. The paste has a deep flavor, spicy, rich, slightly sweet, and very savory.

Gochujang adds a depth in flavor as well as a slow, burning heat. When combined with other common Asian ingredients, such as sugar, mirin, sake, and soy, the flavors meld together beautifully and balance each other out. It’s used in the Korean specialty, bibimbap, where rice is served with gochujang, sliced meat, nori, vegetables, egg, and other possible accoutrement.

You could also use gochujang in any recipe where you would typically use a common hot sauce. This Korean condiment will certainly add a little kick, plus the fermented flavor will make the dish even more complex. Gochujang is very savory (it can be “more salty” to some palates), so when using it, ease back on the salt you add. Taste as usual, and re-season.

Because of its rich depth, Gochujang is a great flavor addition for braising. Here is a recipe for braised pork (pork loves Gochujang) with pepper paste, ginger beer, and lots of other delicious Asian condiments. Plus, the best part? You can make this in a slow cooker if you’d like, or you can cover a large pan tightly in the oven; it’s whatever works for you. I serve the glazed pork with soba noodles, ginger, and Thai basil (pictured), but you can serve it however you like.

 

Ginger and Gochujang Pork

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 5 pounds pork shoulder
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 bottles ginger beer
  • 1 cup sake
  • ½ cup mirin
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken stock
  • 20 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup fermented Gochujang
  • 10 thick slices of fresh ginger
  • 1 can Sprite or 7-up

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Heat the canola oil over high heat. Season the pork all over with salt, then dust with flour. Pan-fry the pork until caramelized and brown on all sides.
  3. Transfer to your braising pan or slow cooker.  Combine all other ingredients in a large pitcher, whisk until combined, then pour over meat. The liquid should just almost cover, but not completely. If more liquid is needed, supplement with chicken stock until there’s enough liquid.
  4. Turn crock pot to high for 5 hours, then low for an additional 3 hours. If you’re braising in the oven, cover the pot tightly with foil, then cook for 5 hours.
  5. Once it’s cooked, allow to cool, then strain the liquid. Pour off excess fat from the liquid, and discard. Reheat the braising liquid over high heat on the stove, and reduce by half. It will become a deeper, richer color, and get syrupier. Once that’s done, allow to cool slightly.
  6. When ready to serve, warm the pork back up, slice and glaze with the reduced sauce.

It’s rich, savory, a little sweet, spicy, and delicious in every way. All inspired by a little red tub of fermented soybean red chili paste. Gooo-chooooo-jang, people. Go get it, or order online here.