Soups & stews
Gochujang (//, from Korean: 고추장; gochu-jang [ko.tɕʰu.dʑaŋ]) or red chili paste is a savory, sweet, and spicy fermented condiment made from chili powder, glutinous rice, meju (fermented soybean) powder, yeotgireum (barley malt powder), and salt. The sweetness comes from the starch of cooked glutinous rice, cultured with saccharifying enzymes during the fermentation process. Traditionally, it has been naturally fermented over years in jangdok (earthenware) on an elevated stone platform, called jangdokdae, in the backyard.
In Sunchang County, North Jeolla Province, the Sunchang Gochujang Festival is held annually in Gochujang Village. In 2018, the Sunchang Gochujang Festival will take place in October.
It has commonly been assumed that spicy jang (장; 醬) varieties were made using black peppers and chopi, before the introduction of chili peppers. Shiyi xinjian, a mid-9th century Chinese document, recorded the Korean pepper paste as 椒醬 (lit. pepper paste). The second oldest documentation of pepper paste is found in the 1433 Korean book Collected Prescriptions of Native Korean Medicines. Pepper paste is again mentioned in a 1445 medical encyclopedia named Compendia of Medical Prescriptions.
Chili peppers, which originated in the Americas, were introduced to East Asia by Portuguese traders in the early 16th century. The first mention of chili pepper in Korea is found in Collected Essays of Jibong, an encyclopedia published in 1614. Farm Management, a 17‒18th century book, wrote on the cultivation methods of chili peppers.
In 18th century books, Somun saseol and Revised and Augmented Farm Management, gochujang is written as gochojang, using hanja characters 苦椒醬 and 古椒醬. It is also mentioned that Sunchang was renowned for their gochujang production.
Gochujang ingredients reported in Jeungbo sallim gyeongje were 18 L (19 U.S. qt) of powdered and sieved meju (fermented soybeans), 540 mL (0.57 US qt) of chili powder, and 1.8 L (1.9 U.S. qt) of glutinous rice flour, as well as soup soy sauce for adjusting the consistency. The gochujang recipe in Gyuhap chongseo, an 1809 cookbook, uses powdered meju made from 18 L (19 U.S. qt) of soybeans and 3.6 L (3.8 U.S. qt) of glutinous rice, then adding 900–1,260 mL (0.95–1.33 US qt) of chili powder and bap made from 3.6 L (3.8 U.S. qt) of glutinous rice.
Gochujang's primary ingredients are red chili powder, glutinous rice powder, powdered fermented soybeans, and salt. Korean chili peppers, of the species Capsicum annuum, are spicy yet sweet making them ideal for gochujang production.
Other recipes use glutinous rice (chapssal, Korean: 찹쌀), normal short-grain rice (mepssal, Korean: 멥쌀), or barley, and, less frequently, whole wheat kernels, jujubes, pumpkin, and sweet potato; these ingredients are used to make special variations. A small amount of sweetener, such as sugar, syrup, or honey, is also sometimes added. The finished product is a dark, reddish paste with a rich, piquant flavor.
The making of gochujang at home began tapering off when commercial production came into the mass market in the early 1970s. Now, most Koreans purchase gochujang at grocery stores or markets. It is still used extensively in Korean cooking to flavor stews (jjigae), 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 (Korean: 초고추장) and ssamjang (Korean: 쌈장). Chogochujang is a variant of gochujang made from adding 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 (Korean: 상추쌈).
Gochujang hot-taste unit (GHU) is unit of measurement for the pungency (spicy heat) of gochujang, based on the gas chromatography and the high-performance liquid chromatography of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin concentrations.
Gochujang products are assigned to one of the five levels of spiciness: Mild Hot, Slight Hot, Medium Hot, Very Hot, and Extreme Hot.
|Extreme Hot||> 100|
|Mild Hot||< 30|
Gochujang is used in various dishes such as bibimbap and tteokbokki, and in salads, stews, soups, and marinated meat dishes. Gochujang makes dishes spicier (contributed by the capsaicins from the chili), but also somewhat sweeter.