Korean food without gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) is like soup without salt - disastrous! What is gochujang? Used in countless of Korean dishes, gochujang is made from Korean chili powder, rice powder, and fermented soybeans. The fermentation process makes gochujang a healthy probiotic that assists with digestion and boosts immunity. Learn more about the health benefits of gochujang. The combination of sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors in this Korean chili paste lends it to pair well with everything from veggies to carbs and proteins.
Gochujang’s versatility and broad range of application may have you wondering where do I even begin? Lucky for you, we’ve picked out 7 of the most popular Korean dishes using gochujang that you must try.
7 Korean Dishes Using Gochujang
1. Soondubu Jjigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)
Credit: My Korean Kitchen
Soondubu jjigae is a spicy Korean soft tofu stew often served in a stone pot with veggies and proteins. The traditional stock for soondubu jjigae is traditionally made with gochujang sauce and anchovy stock for the base, and served with extra soft tofu, thinly sliced meat, kimchi, and scallions. The smooth combination of gochujang and extra soft tofu produces an umami tune so warm and comforting, you’ll want to play it over and over again.
2. Bibimbap Sauce
Credit: The Woks of Life
Bibimbap is a popular Korean recipe that literally translates to “mixed rice”. It combines rice, meat, vegetables, and eggs into one bowl, and bibimbap sauce, commonly known as gochujang sauce, is mixed into the food to pair the ingredients together for an explosion of flavor. Bibimbap is highly customizable; you can choose your favorite vegetables and protein, and even sprinkle some organic seaweed snacks at the end to add some extra salt and crunch to your meal. The possibilities for this dish are endless. The next time you cook at home, try out our salmon bibimbap recipe.
3. Tteokbokki (Stir-fried rice cakes with gochujang sauce)
Credit: Korean Bapsang
Tteokbokki is an iconic Korean street food sold now in many Korean snack bars and restaurants. This addicting snack is made up of soft and chewy rice cakes that are smothered in a spicy gochujang sauce. What is a rice cake, you may ask? It is made of ground rice that is pressed into various shapes, giving it a dense and stringy texture that is not commonly found in Western cuisine.
Additional toppings such as cheese, boiled eggs, fish cake, and instant ramen noodles can be added to make tteokbokki into an even more delectable delight.
4. Gochujang Saewu Gui (Grilled Spicy Marinated Shrimp)
Korean spicy grilled shrimp skewers are marinated with gochujang sauce, then cooked with garlic and lemon to add to the fragrance of the dish. As you bite into the tender shrimp, you’ll first taste the sweet and savory flavor of gochujang marrying into the juicy shrimp, then feel a mild kick from the Korean chili powder that makes gochujang so unique. Let’s just say this meal hits sweet, salty, and savory all in one bite. You won’t be able to stop yourself from reaching for another shrimp!
Check out this Gochujang Honey Butter Shrimp recipe that packs plenty of rich and spicy seafood flavors that will leave your taste buds tingling.
5. Dak-Twigim (Fried Korean Chicken Wings)
The old meets new in each alleyway of Korea. Teeming with innovation in culture and flavor, Dak-Twigim is an elevated fried-chicken that combines Korean and Western cooking into a bite-sized snack. Each fried piece of chicken is a small miracle; crispy, crunchy golden wings of delight glazed with a perfectly balanced sauce of sweetness and spice. The primary ingredients of the glaze include honey, soy sauce, and garlic, and of course, gochujang for when Koreans want their food hot and spicy (which is all the time)!
A popular order of Dak-Twigim comes in “Half & Half”, where Koreans get half an order that is without marinade or glaze, and another half that gives them the exciting kick and crazy flavors they never knew they were missing.
6. Gochujang Fried Rice
It doesn’t get any simpler and easier than this vintage Korean dish. My parents used to tell me that all Koreans needed to survive was rice and gochujang. While I think they missed soju, they were onto something. See recipe.
7. Buldak: Korean Fire Chicken
Building the perfect balance of heat, this one-dish wonder is filled with the smokey essence of charcoal and the spiciness of Korean peppers. Buldak (aka Korean “Fire Chicken”) embodies the iconic flavors of Korea and is the perfect bar food with your beer. With Korean chili powder and gochujang sauce as the base, chicken thighs are slathered in rich and fiery sauce that will satisfy your urge for spicy foods.
Are you daring and bold enough to try some Fire Chicken? Check out our recipe here.