Like your tteokbokki red and spicy? There’s something you need to thank: gochujang, the BTS of Korean food!
From barbecues to soups, this power ingredient is the backbone of Korean cuisine. It’s what makes tteokbokki, bibimbap, and dakgalbi so hot and irresistible!
But the truth is, gochujang isn’t just about heat. It packs so much flavor inside its tiny red tub. And once you learn what it tastes like, you’ll definitely want to buy one!
Ready to fall into the gochujang rabbit hole? Keep reading for a glimpse of what this beloved red paste tastes like.
Gochujang (goh-choo-jang) is a spicy red paste used a lot in Korean cooking. It’s made of red chili, fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, and salt. With this ingredient list, you can imagine how rich the taste of gochujang is.
The beloved red paste has been the star of Korean cuisine since the 16th century. Back then, it was fermented in earthenware pots for years. It’s so popular that families used to make their own gochujang in their backyard — with their own recipe!
Today, gochujang continues to dominate the Korean food scene. It remains a very big part of everyday Korean meals! They’re sold everywhere in the world in their little bright red tubs.
So what does this legendary red paste taste like? You’ll find out next.
What Does Gochujang Taste Like?
Thanks to its ingredients, gochujang has a deep yet well-rounded taste. It’s a bold burst of spicy, sweet, salty, and savory flavors. You can even find a hint of peppery and smokey tastes.
The exact taste can vary per brand, but it will always be a balanced delight. If you need something to compare, imagine miso. But make it spicy.
Each ingredient did its part in making this glorious paste. The fermented soybeans pack saltiness and umami while the starch from rice made it sweet. And of course, there go the chili flakes for some spice!
The spice level is also different across brands. Some get a nice sweet-spicy mix, others are just straight-up hot. Inspect your tub and see if the spice level is written somewhere on it.
How To Use Gochujang?
Before we dive into the goodness of this paste, remember that you don’t eat gochujang as is. You can eat it raw, but not on its own since you’ll end up with a very intense paste. Long story short, it’s not like ketchup or sriracha that you dump directly on your food.
That said, this wonder paste is the true champion of versatility. It’s often used as a marinade: combine it with other spices then slather it onto some meat. That’s a surefire delicious way to make bulgogi and yangnyeom chicken!
Similarly, gochujang is also loved as a dipping sauce. But mix it with other condiments, of course! The famous ssamjang is gochujang-based. Other K-foodies also recommend mixing mayo and gochujang for a delicious dip.
Aside from dipping, this versatile paste is also wonderful as a sauce for cooking. Add a gochujang-based sauce to a pot of vegetables, fish, seafood, or meat. You get dakgalbi, tteokbokki, ojingo bokkeum – it’s endless!
Gochujang also tastes irresistible as a soup base. Dissolve it while cooking for a hearty kimchi stew!
Lastly, gochujang is also a savior for your leftovers! Mix it with yesterday’s rice, veggies, and meat. The result? A tasty bibimbap or fried rice that you’ll finish in one go!
Note: Gochujang also comes in sauce form, usually sold in tubes or bottles (not tubs). They’re diluted and less intense versions of the paste. You can eat it on its own, so it’s usually use as a dipping use.
You May Also Like: Gimjang, The Traditional Way To Make Kimchi
Where To Buy Gochujang?
Gochujang is always sold in a red rectangular tub. If you’re in Korea, you won’t have a hard time finding them since they’re sold practically everywhere. Any grocery, big or small, should have a tub or two.
And even if you’re living overseas, you won’t run out of places to buy gochujang. Begin your hunt in the Asian marts and Korean stores in your area. You can also find it in the condiments aisle of grocery stores, like Walmart.
No luck finding one near you? You can always get a tub from Amazon. We recommend these brands since they’re all popular brands and are made proudly in Korea. No wonder they have great reviews.
- CJ Haechandle gochujang is Korea’s best-selling gochujang from 2007-2015. You can’t go wrong with its classic taste.
- Sempio Hot Pepper Paste gochujang doesn’t use any preservatives. So you’re guaranteed an authentic Korean taste. It also comes in a big 6-lb tub.
- Chung Jung One Hot Pepper Paste gochujang is made in Korea’s fermented paste capital. There’s a hint of nutty flavors since it uses brown rice instead of white.
Does Gochujang Go Bad?
Yep, your precious red paste isn’t forever. Gochujang can still go bad even if it has a long shelf life. And you can go down with serious tummy issues if you eat a spoiled batch.
But the thing is, you don’t really have to stick with the expiry date. Check out this guide to see how long does Gochujang last.
I hope you enjoyed this article about what does gochujang taste like!
Given the richness of its flavors, it might be hard to describe gochujang’s taste. But one thing’s for sure: it’s delicious, and you won’t get enough of it once you have it!
And no wonder it’s been ruling Korean kitchens for centuries. Start your gochujang love and add a tub to your cart now!
For more articles about Korean food, make sure to read our posts about the 15 healthiest Korean dishes, 10 weird Korean food and why Koreans eat so much garlic.