Good news: Guchujang Korean pepper paste has finally hit mainstream grocery stores here in the South! When you first see the name and the firecracker red container of Gochujang paste on the store shelf you can’t help but think it promises something special. But I’m here to tell you that the container can’t prepare you for the amazing flavor and spicy kick this Korean specialty will bring to your cooking.
Made from chili pepper flakes, dried fermented soybeans and glutinous rice, this paste has a deep red color and a complex flavor profile. Its sweetness is balanced with a nice kick of heat and the deep fermented soy flavor makes it so much more than just another hot sauce. Adding a touch of extra sweetness brings out the complex flavors. I use it to make a broiled chicken thigh recipe that is quick, easy and delicious. I’ve also mixed the paste with a little cream cheese for a delicious spread to pair with pretzel sticks and vegetables.
What else can you do with this paste? If you haven’t already found her work, I highly suggest you seek out Maangchi, a very talented and sweet Korean cook that lives in New York and makes videos of her cooking. She is talented and funny and her recipes are delicious. Her website is www.maangchi.com. She has tons of recipes and ideas for this paste, along with many other ideas that will leave you shaking your head in marvel.
What can you do with this paste? Try rubbing pork baby back ribs with Gochujang paste and letting them marinate overnight before smoking or baking them slowly. Finish up with a drizzle of honey for a taste delight. Serve the ribs with cellophane noodle salad dressed with lots of toasted sesame seed oil and scallions and you’ll achieve a perfect balance. Sitting in front of a bland vegetable soup that lacks flavor? Stir in a small dab of Gochujang paste and see what happens. Experiment with other long time recipes to see if you can’t give them a reboot. Think Korean style potato salad!
Give Gochujang a try and let me know what you think. If you’re bored in the kitchen and need a little inspiration then this paste will do the trick! When you’re shopping be sure and grab some fresh garlic and ginger to accompany the paste. I promise only good things will happen!
- 1 lb boneless, skiness chicken thighs
- ½ cup gochujang
- ½ cup water
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
- ½ medium onion, cut into thin strips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey, optional
- In a bowl, whisk the gochujang and water together until smooth. Pour over the chicken and coat it well. Set aside to marinate for 1 hour.
- In a large oven proof sauté pan heat the oil over medium flame. Add the pepper and onion strips and sauté for 3 minutes but do not cook them done. Add the garlic in and cook for 1 minute.
- Top the onions with the chicken pieces and add all of the marinade.
- Put the pan under the broiler and cook until the pieces of chicken are starting to color, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Turn the chicken over and cook another 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
- Turn the chicken over again and drizzle with honey. Put under the broiler just to color the chicken pieces.
- Let stand for 10 minutes before serving with plain rice.