Many of the core flavors of Korean food are built from a family of fermented soy-based condiments known as jangs. The simplest—made from soy beans, salt and water—is ganjang, or soy sauce, of which there are dozens of varieties. One of the most complex—and the most popular in the U.S.—is gochujang, a spicy paste with a texture and savoriness similar to Japanese miso. It’s a real powerhouse ingredient that we’ve come to rely on and consider an essential element of the Milk Street pantry.
Gochujang comes in a variety of heat levels and we chose a milder mix so that we can use more of it without making dishes too spicy. For those who really do five-alarm heat, gochujang is great as a tableside condiment as well. Use it in Jjigae, a hearty pork, kimchi and tofu stew perfect for cold winters. It takes about 5 minutes to assemble, then an hour of unattended simmering to tenderize the meat and flavor the broth. It’s a cold-weather stand by for much of the kitchen staff. Or try gochujang in Soy-Glazed Potatoes, a classic Korean panchan (side dish). Use it in everything from BBQ rubs, simple dipping sauces—thinned with soy, rice vinegar, and honey, mixed into mayonnaise and whipped into butter to smear on roast salmon. Once you try it, it’ll become a pantry staple.