Gochujang is a savory and pungent fermented Korean condiment.
Traditionally, it has been naturally fermented over years in large earthen pots
outdoors, more often on an elevated stone platform, called jangdokdae in
Left: A jar of
gochujang made with chili pepper powder, doenjang (Korean soybean paste),
and glutinous rice flour.
Gochujang's primary ingredients are red chili powder,
glutinous rice powder mixed with powdered fermented soybeans, and salt. Major
substitutes for the main ingredient, glutinous rice, include normal
short-grain rice, and barley, and less frequently, whole wheat
kernels, jujubes, pumpkin, and sweet potato; these ingredients are used to make
specialty variations. A small amount of sweetener such as sugar, syrup, or honey
is also sometimes added. It is a dark, reddish paste with a rich, piquant
It has been made at home in Korea since the 16th century, after chili peppers
were first introduced. The making of gochujang at home began tapering off when
commercial production started in the early 1970s and came into the mass market.
Now, homemade gochujang can hardly be found.
Left: Traditional earthen jars used
for aging gochujang and
It is used extensively in Korean cooking, to flavour stews (jjigae) such as
gochujang jjigae, marinate meat such as gochujang
bulgogi, and as a condiment
for naengmyeon and
Gochujang is also used as a base for making other condiments like
ssamjang. Chogochujang is a variant of gochujang made
from gochujang with added vinegar and other seasonings like sugar and sesame
seeds. It is usually used as a sauce for
hoedeopbap. Meantime, ssamjang
is a mixture of mainly gochujang and doenjang, with chopped onions and other
spicy seasonings, and is popular with sangchissahm, which is a
lettuce wrap of marinated, grilled meat with sliced garlic and green chili
Gochujang is largely recommended to add to Korean food, especially
tteokbokki. Gochujang plays a role in food, making dishes spicier, but also
somewhat more sweet.