If you like Korean food – or even Korean-style food – you will know about gochujang. It is the richly sticky, piquant spice paste essential to many Korean stews (jjigae), and of course the deeply sensory, sizzling stone bowl rice dish, bibimbap. It is also often added into the unofficial national South Korean dish, bulgogi.
Its deeply umami, sweet, salty and spicy taste is hard to pin down as it is also about the texture too: authentic gochujang will have a delightful stickiness – perfect for gripping onto and permeating anything in which it is marinated. It is not a drizzling, finishing type of sauce like sriracha, but rather a paste that usually goes into and adds depth to other dishes. But adding a little thinning and sharpening vinegar to a tablespoon of the paste does make a lovely finishing sauce for a stir-fry, noodles, omelettes and other savoury dishes, so it is much more versatile than first seems. I have also used it straight instead of harissa in vegetable tagines. And it lasts for ages in the fridge.
The thing about gochujang is that the squat tubs of paste that we tend to get here in the West do not hold the best quality ingredients: corn syrup, calcium phosphate and bulking wheat are often added as shortcut-cuts. I have also found most brands that I have tried are too sweet for my taste.
To make gochujang authentically and healthily one needs serious devotion to the art of fermentation, and space outside in the sun for some clay pots (!). But luckily there are shortcuts. Scan homemade gochujang recipes on the internet and you will find much advice and variation. Even in South Korea there is a lot of latitude as to what goes into the paste and how it is made. This is probably the best English language description of making authentic gochujang. Note the barley malt powder, sweet rice flour, fermented soy bean flour. Not quite supermarket ingredients.
I won’t claim that my version tastes anything like a homemade authentic recipe (it takes ten minutes rather than three months or three years), but rather it is to my less sweet taste. Where I differ from other “cheat’s” recipes you will find is that I use date syrup rather than honey, agave (ugh!) or straight sugar. The date syrup has a more subtle sweetness, a pleasing density, but also lends more depth than agave or sugar could hope to bring. My testers loved it straight off the spoon, as well as in the couple of dishes I made with it.
It is seriously lickable stuff.
I will pop back very soon – possibly later today – with a simple recipe in which to showcase this addictive crimson paste. I have others lined up to share so don’t think that your jar will get lonely in the back of the fridge. No danger. The only danger is running out of gochujang.
Do you like Korean food? Have you made your own kimchi or gochujang before? Do you use either condiment in any unusual or unique ways?
Cheat's Homemade Gochujang Korean Spice Paste
This thick, spicy crimson paste is an easy way to liven up homemade Korean, Chinese and Japanese dishes, as well as more Western omelettes, stews and pasta bakes. Once you put your thinking cap on you will find many many ways to enjoy this delicious, addictive paste.
In the first instance try adding it into ketchup, stirred through cooked noodles with toasted sesame oil, dabbed into a hot vegetable and rice bowl, or even whisked into eggs for a spicy, umami omelette. That’s just for openers.
Find the miso and Korean chilli powder in good Asian grocers or online. xx
100g (1/2 cup) organic white miso paste (Clearspring brand is available in many UK supermarkets)
100ml (1/2 cup) water
120g (2/3 cup) organic date syrup (health food stores and some supermarkets, with the sugar substitutes and syrups)
1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari sauce (make your own soy sauce; the difference between the two is explained over at the kitchn)
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp yuzu juice or 1 tsp yuzu powder (optional – no one else does this, but I like it!)
1/4 cup gochujaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
All you do is put all of the ingredients into a small steep-sided pan and whisk together until amalgamated, then bring to a steady simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes; it will thicken up nicely. Scrape into a small lidded jar and store in the refrigerator for up to three months.
What will you be doing with your gochujang??
33 thoughts on “Cheat’s Gochujang – Korean Red Pepper Paste Recipe”
I’ve been wanting to make my own gochujang because store bought ones are not gluten free. thanks for your cheat version, I cant wait to try it as I’ve got all your ingredients ready.
Oh, I’m so glad you like it Shannon. It is soooo easy to make up and, as you have the ingredients, it can be something you can make without any pre-planning. Let me know if you make it, will you?
Fantastic cheat’s recipe. This looks like something that needs to be in my fridge. I wonder if brown rice syrup might work here – though I know what you’re saying about it benefiting from the depth of date syrup. To your question, I love making kimchi and use it in anything from wraps, eggs, greens, and noodle bowls. But I should start making gochujang!
Thanks Katie. I definitely think brown rice syrup would work but I always wonder about the arsenic content in something concentrated like brown rice syrup. I’m probably just paranoid as of course it won’t be a major part of my diet. Or rather, it *shouldn’t* be. 😉 Let us know if you try it with brown rice syrup as that would be a good option for some people.
Awesome idea for a recipe post. Love some of these pictures… and love gochujang and putting it on everything when I go to Koreatown. What do you think could substitute for the date syrup? Also, I am surprised there’s miso in this sauce as I don’t taste miso at all! Thanks for the post!
The miso is to sub for the fermented ground soy flour and the patient fermenting time! Katie has commented wondering if Brown rice syrup is a good sub. I’m sure it would be but it is far sweeter than date syrup and quite a different taste. But I’m sure it would work just fine.
This sounds like a really great thing to have in the fridge – I’d probably end up putting it on everything! 🙂
We have literally just had some gochujang stirred into some leftover vegetable and chickpea tagine, so I think I am putting it on everything!I have also coated some plain raw nuts in it and slow-baked them – mmm.
Kellie, your recipes often contain foods I hear about for the first time. Its like new world of cooking) Thank you.
Perfect timing! I tried this sauce a few weeks ago and have been trying to find a recipe for it. Yum x
I haven’t really experimented with much Korean food, mainly Japanese so we have few of the ingredients in the cupboard already. Do love the sound of this. 🙂
This paste sounds wonderful and spicy. It would be really versatile for many dishes.
It looks so good that I can imagine myself licking it off the plate 😉
Thanks Margot. I did just that on the feature image. Many spoons have been licked clean. Washed properly though too!
Gochujang is probably my second favorite hot sauce after Sriracha! I love it so so much! Korean food is delicious too! This looks amazing and so easy!
Wow, thanks so much for an amazing versatile sauce!!
I took the recipe straight to the kitchen, where gochujang had evaporated to a rubbery blog in my refrigerator.
I made it with a Korean miso, and brown rice syrup. No yuzu! Since you said the rice syrup was sweeter than date, I cut back to 1/2 cup, but otherwise followed you. It came out very good, and will send me to lots more meals. Tonight, just a bit on zucchini pancakes.
In a large Asian market with Korean ownership, I have found gochujang without flour and with sugar lower on the ingredient list than most. But I think this recipe will allow me to make it a habit… Thanks!
Interesting…new to me 😀
I love these kind of recipes as they have so much potential for experimenting. I’m a huge sucker for sweet/salt/spice combos so this is definitely something i’m going to be trying.
Addicted to yuzu! Tried first Koren food in the form of hot pot the other day and could start an addiction here too. Probably had something similar in among the dozens of sauces we got to choose from. You can never have too many chilli sauces imo.
Yum! Must try try this – haven’t heard of it before but sounds and looks great
My OH would absolutely adore this – we keep sneaking off to london on dates and ending up at our favourite Korean eating some of this.
You’ve made it sound so doable! I’ll have to keep an eye out for a Korean supermarket as I’d love to try this.
They will have everything in a Chinese market too. I don’t think we have a Korean one in Edinburgh.
Oh now this is a find. I will definitely have to try it.
Love the idea of this! I usually just buy the store-bought, my Korean-born son loves it on eggs, and in tacos and on a burger. Come to think of it he’s not too picky about his use of gochujang. -Kat
Thanks for posting this! I always have extra gochukaro at home but never gochujang when I need it so this is very helpful.
Wondering if the tamari can be omitted without a major change in taste? Is it just for salt or to balance out the spicy and sweet?
Hi there. Just use an equivalent of salt if you like. It does balance and add umami but it’s not vital. 😊😊
This was THE best. I was looking for something to do with all my korean chili flakes. I used Honey as a sweetener and it turned out perfect (: