How to make gochujang chili pepper paste from scratch. Discover how to elevate your cooking with this fermented Korean spicy sauce.
Today we’re going to make something that no Korean dish is truly complete without: Gochujang. It is a savory, spicy, and sweet condiment that can be used in a variety of recipes, from cooking rice to making kimchi. This condiment is what really sets off dishes like bibimbap, ddukbokki, and bulgogi.
The traditional Korean recipe requires a two-month fermentation period. While it is a time-consuming process, the results are totally worth the effort and patience. Let’s find out what the process of preparing Gochujang involves.
What is Gochujang?
Gochujang is a traditional Korean red chili paste containing rice and soybeans and is made through a fermentation process.
In Korea, gochujang is an essential sauce to have in your pantry. Its complex flavors allow it to be used as a dipping sauce for dumplings, noodles, or rice dishes. It can also be mixed with water and sugar to be turned into a sweet chili sauce for fried food.
The process of making it at home can be surprisingly simple! The ingredients can be easily found in local Asian supermarkets. Those who don’t have access to an Asian store can still give homemade gochujang a try by tweaking the recipe and using available ingredients with similar flavor profiles.
How to Use Gochujang
Adding a teaspoon of gochujang to any recipe can make a huge difference in its flavor. If you enjoy Korean cuisine, you can easily recreate many classic dishes at home by using this condiment. You can easily spice up bowls of stir-fry or soup with it, turn it into a dip, or coat Korean fried chicken in it for a spicy kick.
Gochujang also works as a chili paste substitute in non-Korean dishes, replicating its deep, sweet-but-spicy flavor profile. It pairs well with Asian classics, like pan-fried sesame chicken and Thai stir-fries. I also love it in more ‘Western’ dishes, like in soups for added depth, as a burger sauce, and even a sandwich spread.
The most common ingredients in making gochujang are soybean powder, glutinous rice powder, salt, malt syrup or honey (to add more sugar), garlic, ginger root or hot pepper flakes (for spiciness)
It’s easy to find all of these ingredients at your local Asian supermarket. Some recipes also include fermented shrimp sauce as an ingredient which adds a layer of flavor that cannot be replicated with other ingredients alone.
Homemade Gochujang Sauce
- 2 lbs barley malt powder
- 4 cups fermented soybean powder
- 10 cups glutinous rice
- 4 cups kosher salt
- 8 cups rice syrup
- 16 cups red pepper powder
- 1 ½ gallons water
- In a large container, mix together all of the barley malt powder with 1 ½ gallons of water. Once thoroughly mixed, strain the mixture through a sieve into a large pot. Heat the mixture over medium heat for 20 minutes, until warm (not hot).
- Once the mixture is warm, remove the pot from the stove and add the glutinous rice. Mix with a wooden spoon and let sit for 2 hours.
- Place the pot on the stove again. Over medium-to-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Let boil for two hours while occasionally stirring until the mixture reduces in size by about a quarter. Add the rice syrup and turn off the flame until the whole mix has cooled down. Add and mix in the soybean powder, salt, and hot pepper powder.
- Transfer the mixture to smaller, suitable jars. Cover the top of jars with mesh before closing their lids.
- Leave to ferment for two months before enjoying