What is Gochujang and How Do We Use It?

Written By Kim'C Market - July 30 2021

Gochujang is found in almost every Korean household, this simple red pepper paste opens up your culinary horizons.

Growing up in a Korean household, there wasn’t a time where I didn’t see that familiar red tub lying around the house somewhere, whether it be in the fridge or stored in our cabinet. Gochujang paste (Korean red pepper paste) has been by my side longer than most people have— and I mean that quite literally. That’s just how essential it is to a Korean household and that’s how big of a role it plays in Korean cuisine and culture overall.

What is Gochujang Sauce ?

Gochujang sauce is a thick, dark-red paste that is spicy and just slightly sweet in flavor, used in a plethora of Korean sauces and dishes. It is made from just four ingredients— Korean red chilli pepper flakes, glutinous rice (sticky rice), fermented soybeans and salt— but it’s the process and skills needed to make it that require years of experience. After combining the ingredients and creating the initial starter paste, the gochujang is then stored in a jangdok (장독), an earthenware jar, outdoors and fermented for years.

This fermentation process allows the starches in the sticky rice to be converted into natural sugars, which give gochujang its signature slightly sweet flavor. On top of that, the chilli flakes added combine with the rest of the ingredients to give the end product its distinctive spice profile, while the fermented soybeans give it that extra depth of umami flavor.

Fun Fact: Like wine, the more gochujang ages, the more flavorful (and expensive) it becomes!

How Can We Use Gochujang?

ddukbokki in bowl

Ddukbbokki (Spicy Rice Cake) is a popular Korean dish, often served in street food carts in Korea.

There are several different ways to utilize gochujang, whether it be in a Korean dish you’ve been wanting to try or just to add some spice into your favorite dish. Its unique and complex flavor profile adds a whole range of flavors to a dish and also allows it to be combined with other condiments, such as soy sauce or sesame oil, to create a tasty and spicy sauce.

If you look at almost any Korean dish, it will require you to use gochujang as the base for the dish’s base. Take the Korean street food staple, ddukbokki (spicy rice cake), for example. The spicy, sweet and flavorful sauce of ddukbokki is easily achieved with some gochujang, a few dashes of soy sauce and sugar. This combination of sauces is the foundation of most Korean dishes, so with this, you can make several other delicious dishes!

Where Can We Find It?

Gochujang is constantly growing in popularity across the world, as more people take interest in cooking with it and Korean cuisine in general. Gochujang is readily available in places around the world, and in a more local sense, you can find it at your Korean or Asian supermarkets! You can also find gochujang at Kim’C Market, where we sell only the best and highest quality you can find.

Things To Consider When Buying

As stated above, gochujang is now available at almost every supermarket you go to. But which one should you choose? Well, it’s simple. Gochujang commonly found in your local Asian supermarkets are almost all mass-produced and use corn syrup to sweeten the paste. Look out for the ingredients, which is especially important when choosing a good, quality product. With such little ingredients, the quality of those individual ingredients is the most important for the best flavor.

Kim’C Market recommends Jookjangyeon for all your jang (sauce) needs, for they are produced very traditionally, with no additives, providing the best quality for your palette and your body. The natural sweetness comes from the sticky rice that is used and fermented when making the paste, without the need of corn syrup or other additional sweeteners.

Read more about Jookjangyeon and their mission on our website!