Gochujang is a savory and pungent fermented Korean condiment made from red chili
, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans
. Traditionally, it has been naturally fermented over years in large earthen pots outdoors, more often on an elevated stone platform, called jangdokdae in the backyard.
Gochujang's primary ingredients are red chili powder, glutinous rice powder mixed with powdered fermented soybeans, and salt. Major substitutes for the main ingredient, glutinous rice, include normal short-grain rice, and barley, and less frequently, whole wheat kernels, jujubes
, and sweet potato
; these ingredients are used to make specialty variations. A small amount of sweetener, such as sugar
, syrup, or honey
, is also sometimes added. It is a dark, reddish paste with a rich, piquant flavor.
The making of gochujang at home began tapering off when commercial production started in the early 1970s and came into the mass market. Now, homemade gochujang can hardly be found. It is used extensively in Korean cooking, to flavor stews such as gochujang jjigae, marinate meat such as gochujang bulgogi, and as a condiment for naengmyeon and bibimbap.
Gochujang is also used as a base for making other condiments, such as chogochujang and ssamjang. Chogochujang is a variant of gochujang made from gochujang with added vinegar
and other seasonings, such as sugar and sesame seeds
. It is usually used as a sauce for hoe and hoedeopbap. Similarly, ssamjang is a mixture of mainly gochujang and doenjang, with chopped onions and other spicy seasonings, and is popular with sangchussam, which is a lettuce wrap of grilled meat, sliced garlic, green chili peppers and other vegetables.
Nutrition and health
Gochujang has traditionally been one of the three indispensable household condiments, along with doenjang and ganjang. Gochujang contains protein
, vitamin B2
, vitamin C
, and carotene.
Gochujang is used in various dishes like bibimbap and tteokbokki, also in salads, stews, soups and marinated meat dishes. Gochujang makes dishes spicier (contributed by the capsaicins from the chili), but also somewhat sweeter.