My Thursday Thing: Gochujang
It may not be the easiest thing to say or spell, but Gochujang is one of the most delicious ingredients you will ever cook with. So what is Gochujang? It is a fermented red chili paste used frequently in Korean food. It's spicy yet sweet which makes it a highly flexible ingredient in both savory and sweet applications. The spice is addicting while the sweet mellows it out just enough to keep you going back for more and more.
Until recently, I had only had it in sauces at Korean restaurants. Then, while on a recent trip to Connecticut, my wife and I went out for dinner and had a noodle dish that was bathed in a barbeque sauce where Gochujang was the star ingredient. It was then that I decided I really needed to start experimenting at home with it. So when I returned home, I immediately made a trip to the local Asian grocery store to pick some up.
Having never cooked with Gochujang before, I did what I usually do and hit up Pinterest to find some recipes. And that's an important lesson for new or seasoned home cooks. Being a good cook doesn't mean inventing every recipe from scratch, especially when working with new ingredients or cuisines. Follow a bunch of recipes until you get familiar with the ingredients, then start experimenting on your own.
Here are a few recipes I've made recently that I think you are going to love, with some assistance from Pinterest. Enjoy!
Making burgers is one of my favorite things because you can make them so many different ways. Korean-style may be my favorite. First, prepare two sauces. The first is a soy sauce-based BBQ sauce you can find in this Pinterest recipe. I love this sauce and use it to make fried rice as well. Then make a Gochujang mayo by mixing 1 tablespoon of Gochugang with 3-5 tablespoons of mayo. The more spicy you like it, the less mayo you should use.
Grill up a burger and melt cheddar cheese over the top. Brush melted butter on the top of a good hamburger bun and lightly grill or toast, then spread the insides with the Gochuganj mayo. Not only does this provide great flavor, it will also prevent the meat juices from penetrating the bun and making it soggy. Add a few thin slices of cucumber to the bottom bun, then top with the burger and drizzle with the BBQ sauce. Grab a napkin, it's messy but totally worth it! Add a fried egg on top if you really want to put this burger over the top.
Korean Baked Chicken Wings
Wings are traditionally fried, and in the case of Korean Fried Chicken, they are breaded, too. But I find baked wings can be just as crispy and delicious without the added fat. First, prep the sauce by following this Pinterest recipe for the sauce only.
Cut up a dozen wings into drumettes and wingettes (my kids call these pull-aparts), or buy them pre-cut. Toss with a little canola oil, salt and pepper and place on a rack on top of a sheet pan. In a 400 degree oven, cook fat-side down for 15 minutes, then flip and cook for 10 minutes. Flip again and place under the broiler for 5 minutes, then flip one more time and place back under the broiler for 5 minutes.
While the wings are under the broiler, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, then add the sauce you made earlier and stir until combined. Keep warm on a low heat.
When the wings come out of the oven, immediately toss them in the sauce and serve hot, topped with sesame seeds. Serve with a side of fries and the Gochujang mayo from the burger recipe above as a dipping sauce for the fries.
Like I said, Gochujang can be used for savory and sweet applications. This is a super easy way to spice up your movie treat. Just follow this Pinterest recipe for a completely addictive snack. You might want to double the recipe!
I'm also intrigued by the Gochujang Potato Chips I recently saw at Whole Foods which I'll be picking up shortly!