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This New Food Friday post begins, like several others, in the bargain bin of my local Kroger. I’d actually been thinking about doing a post on gochujang for some time, but had never gotten around to it. Then, I spotted this bottle with a lovely sale sticker on it:
Yes! Sign me up. I bought the bottle, and then go to work trying out recipes I’d pinned or bookmarked calling for gochujang. It wasn’t long before I figured out that what I bought (while delicious) isn’t exactly the same as what those recipes called for. After one attempt at bibimbap sauce came out way too sweet, I started to investigate.
What I found is that most gochujang comes in a tub, like this, and are labeled as “hot pepper paste” or similar. While these gochujang pastes also contain sweeteners and other ingredients besides just peppers, they contain less of these things than the product I bought. This observation, combined with the fact that it came in a squeeze bottle for Pete’s sake, leads me to believe that this version is intended to be used uncut and as-is. Fine by me! I like how it tastes on its own, and that means less work all around!
The gochujang I purchased is made by Bibigo (you can order it online here):
New Food Friday: Gochujang (the Bibigo version)
What it is: Gochujang is a condiment used in Korean cooking, made from red chili peppers, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. The Bibigo version also contains brown sugar, soy sauce, sake and other ingredients.
What it tastes like: Familiar, but different. Like spicy hoisin. Like sweet sriracha. Like the most perfectly spicy, sweet, savory, delicious condiment you’ve ever tasted.
Where to find it: Look for gochujang in the international section of your grocery store or online. If you have a Korean market nearby you’ll find the paste there; I’m not sure about this particular version, though.
How to store it: Refrigerate the bottle after opening.
What I did with it: Used it as a topping for veggie bowls, a basis for stir fry sauce and a condiment for many, many rice bowls. A friend tells me it also makes a killer marinade for chicken.
The verdict: The Bibigo version of gochujang may not be totally authentic, but it’s pretty good and I’d buy it again. I might go for a paste next time though to try my hand at making more customized sauces from it.