Monday, May 02, 2016

Learning about Korean Food! Chung Jung One Gochujang Sauce

I really don't know anything about Korean food, but when Chung Jung One offered to send me a jar of their Gochujang for review, I jumped at the chance to explore something new. Gochujang is a hot, thick, slightly sweet, and sticky fermented Korean chili sauce. It's not overwhelmingly spicy-hot, but definitely brings some heat. Also, it turns out, Gochujang is super delicious.

my new pal

Chung Jung One's sauce is gluten-free and vegan, which I gather is not always the case. It's sweetened with cane sugar and brown rice syrup. The fermented aspect of the sauce gives it a nice, rich umami power, which I always appreciate in vegan food. Also, I think their website is pretty cool - it has some recipes for inspiration, some info about the sauce, and a gallery of people's instagram pictures featuring their sauce. I love their idea of adding this sauce to hummus!

bibimbap! fun to say!

So, since I'm essentially a Korean cuisine noob, I started with a dish I've made once before, a long time ago: bibimbap. This time I used a great recipe from the New York Times. This recipe was easy to veganize. Obviously, I left off the egg. I also reduced the oil by quite a bit, increased the amount of rice vinegar-sesame oil seasoning in the carrots. There were many components to the meal, but none of them were complicated and overall this dinner was actually pretty easy to prepare. It was unlike anything I make with any frequency, and we both totally loved it! The greens, mushrooms, and tofus were all cooked, and the carrots and cukes were raw but dressed with seasoning. The hot-and-slightly-sweet gochujang sauce was definitely a key ingredient -- tying each bite together with a complex kick of sweet heat. So good!

I was feeling quite inspired after our first success, and so when Cadry posted her recipe for a Bulgogi Bowl, I knew I wanted to try it out! This bowl has grilled tofus marinated in a rich marinade (featuring Gochujang sauce, of course!), lightly seasoned spinach, rice, and kimchi. This was my first time finally having kimchi -- even though everyone talks about it all the time. The brand I got was quite yummy, but also quite spicy, so I enjoyed just a little nibble with each bite, like a condiment. I don't think I'll be eating it by the spoonful! ha ha. On the other hand, those Bulgogi Tofus were outta sight. Oh man. They are really, really good. I ate the leftover pieces straight outta the fridge the next day. I'll definitely make these regularly. I loved grilled and baked tofu, and I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy it -- this flavor profile was new to me and I instantly fell in love.

I look forward to putting my gochujang sauce to more uses, so far I'm a definite fan. Got any recipe suggestions for me?? Bring 'em on! Teach me about yummy Korean food!


  1. Anonymous3:10 PM


    So glad you're back in the kitchen again cooking up mouthwatering meals. Reading your blog inspires me to get into the kitchen and start using my hundreds(!) of cookbooks that go untouched. Since you have many of the same books that I do, you help me decide on what book and recipe I should try.

    As far as kimchi goes, I love the Joe Kim brand because it was the kimchi my Mom always bought for our family while I was growing up. I guess it's not "authentic" because it's bottled in Hawaii, but we're not Korean and my folks were born and raised in Hawaii. Delicious just to eat with plain rice or better, musubi:

  2. I haven't had too much Korean food because it seems like it is often quite spicy, and I am of the mild variety. ;) It always looks really yummy, though. I'd like to start making some at home, where I can control the level of the spice. Though I think I'd have to make my own kimchi. I think I have used gochujang a couple of times, but I can't remember what I was making!

  3. I've been playing around with japchae quite a bit lately! The sweet potato noodles are key; different veggies can be swapped in and out.

  4. I have a few gochujang recipes on my blog- I love the stuff! I am excited to see a brand with more natural ingredients. Most of the time there is the typical junky stuff in them, and there aren't many artisan brands out there (even in Korea, though it is starting to pick up) Traditionally gochujang should be gluten-free but I guess Koreans started to use wheat more often if the fermentation process more often than rice.

    I left a link to all my recipes, but my favorite Korean recipe are ddukbokgi or spicy rice cakes. They are super carb-y but super yummy. I have a recipe for the basics but you can make it more of a meal by tossing in ramen, vegan deli slices, seitan, pressed tofu, etc.

  5. The sauce sounds pretty good! I only just had bibimbap for the first time a few months ago and really enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing a recipe for it, I'll have to try making it on my own =)


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