Whip up a quick batch of this shortcut Korean gochujang paste and you’ll have a blast of spicy umami flavour to liven up all kinds of dishes. It only takes a handful of ingredients and 5 minutes to have a jar of this versatile and flavourful chili paste – a delicious stand-in for the slow-fermented traditional kind.
This fiery Korean chili paste is fantastic. Gochujang is spicy, sweet, salty, and umami all at once. It’ll knock your socks off with its sweet heat and delicious kick. It’s used, of course, to lend its spicy flavour in all sorts of Korean cooking (bulgogi, bibimbap, and many rice, noodle, and pork dishes), but is also a fantastic addition to many other dishes.
Gochujang is sold in square red tubs in Korean or Asian grocery stores, and upon searching for it to use in some recipes, I was disappointed to learn that it contains gluten (in the form of barley malt and wheat). So I set about making my own gluten-free version and this sauce has become a real hit in our house.
The method for making traditional, authentic Korean gochujang paste is a fascinating and complicated process, taking up to 6 months of fermenting the ingredients in a special clay pot in direct sunlight, then possibly several years more of closed fermentation, until you get a thick, spicy pepper paste with complex layers of flavour.
How to Make Shortcut Gochujang
I was excited to discover that you can make a reasonable shortcut version of gochujang at home. I experimented with different recipe combinations I found, and came up with this one that we absolutely love, using miso paste to give it that funky, fermented salty/umami base note. Make sure to use a gluten free miso (made with brown rice, chickpeas, or soy) if you need your gochujang to be gluten free. I’ve added a bit of paprika, which is not traditional but as it’s another form of sun-dried powdered red pepper, it helps add a more rounded complex flavour to this chili paste. My version also includes honey for the sweet note that comes with traditionally fermented gochujang, and a touch of rice vinegar for tang and garlic for flavour.
You’ll need Korean ground dried red chili pepper (called gochugaru), which can be found at Asian stores (I found mine at T&T) or ordered online. Gochugaru comes in flakes (which are used for making kimchi) and fine powder (used for seasoning), which is what you need for this recipe. This Korean ground red chili pepper is a bit milder than cayenne pepper (though still fiery hot), but has a more nuanced and complex flavour.
The simple beauty of making your own gochujang is that you simply measure out the ingredients, then stir them together in a bowl with a whisk until they form a rich, spicy, red paste.
How to Use Gochujang
Gochujang is traditionally used an ingredient to flavour cooked dishes, rather than as a finishing sauce, but we’ve also been using our version to dab onto food at the table and this shortcut version adds an amazing depth of flavour. A thin smear on sandwiches adds a deliciously spicy blast, and a spoonful next to a hamburger patty or grilled meat kicks it up a whole lip-smacking notch.
The complex flavour is fantastic in all sorts of dishes.
- add it into marinades
- stir a spoonful into soups, stews, gravies
- mix into meatloaf, meatball, or hamburger mixtures
- stir some into mayonnaise to make a delicious spicy sandwich spread
- add to salad dressings
- stir into rice bowls
- stir fries
- noodle dishes
- braised meats
- instead of sriracha or hot sauce in any recipes
- or serve at the table as a condiment
This is the secret ingredient to adding ‘WOW’ to your dishes.
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Shortcut Gochujang, Korean Chili Paste
- 3 tablespoons fine gochugaru, Korean powdered hot red chili pepper (Goun Gochukaru 고운 고추가루)
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika or 1 additional tablespoon gochugaru
- ¼ cup 4 tablespoons gluten-free white miso paste
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, finely grated on a microplane or other grater
- ¼ cup (60ml) water, plus more if desired
- Measure all the ingredients into a large bowl and stir together with a whisk to make a smooth paste.
- If you prefer a thinner paste, add a bit more water until it’s thinned to your liking. Scrape into a small glass jar with a lid.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months and in the freezer for up to a year.
- Makes ¾ cup (180ml).
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