A Spicy History of Gochujang & How To Make It

Gochujang - Spicy Chili Pepper Paste

A bit of sugar, a dash of spice, and definitely everything nice! Gochujang makes so many Korean dishes wonderful!

by Jasmine Edwards

If you are a lover of Korean food, you know that gochujang (hot pepper paste) is one of the most important elements of Korean cooking! This spicy, slightly-sweet sauce is the base for many Korean dishes.

The most prominent ingredient is the red chili pepper powder, as well as starchy rice, salt, and fermented soybean paste. You would see gochujang used in many main Korean dishes and side dishes like bibimbaptteokbokki, kimchi, budae-jjigae (army base stew), and mulhoe (spicy raw fish soup).

 

The face you make when eating yummy food!
The face you make when eating yummy food!

Gochujang’s also carving out its own position in fusion foods:

Gochujang is one of the many important staples of Korean cuisine and culture. I found some interesting facts about gochujang and found out that you can in fact make this at home too! I will be your guide as we go back in time to learn about the history of gochujang.

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There’s plenty of gochujang available in Korean markets these days!

Let’s time travel!!!

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A long time ago, Koreans needed a way to help preserve food. Vegetables such as cabbage would be susceptible to elements of the environment and spoil very quickly. But they discovered that when certain spices were added to food, it would aid in fermentation, so that it would not spoil so quickly.

Here’s a bit of scientific lingo to explain things:

“In Korea, the development of fermented foods began in order to extend their storability. However, if special ingredients, such as red pepper powder (containing capsaicin), are added, the growth of putrefactive bacteria is suppressed and Lactobacillus (lactic acid bacteria) grows.” (Kwon, Jang, Yang, & Chung, 2014)

There is not any known exact date when gochujang was created. However, reports indicate that the harvest of gochu (pepper) was recorded about 2,000 years ago during the period of the Three Kingdoms. It was in high demand then, and it’s still in high demand in modern times!

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Yass!! This is real! Please handle this with care!

 

I will share a simple gochujang recipe that you can try if you want to make this yummy sauce at home. Please keep in mind many people have different ways of making this delicious sauce.  This vidoe below was very helpful for those who learn better my watching videos. However, you can click the link below to get written instructions on how to make gochujang.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of  barley malt powder
  • water
  • 10 cups of sweet rice flour
  • 8 cups of rice syrup
  • 4 cups (1½ pounds) of fermented soybean powder
  • 16 cups (1.6 kg) of hot pepper powder
  • 4 cups of kosher salt

(Maangchi, 2012)

 

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