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A jar of gochujang
A jar of gochujang
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Gochujang (Korean: 고추장, IPA: [kotɕʰudʑaŋ] Koryo-mar:кочхицай) is a savory and pungent fermented Korean condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. Traditionally, it has been naturally fermented over years in large earthen pots outdoors, more often on an elevated stone platform, called jangdokdae (장독대) in the backyard. Its HS code is 2103.90.1030.
Gochujang (hot pepper paste) is believed to have been first used in Korea in the late 18th century, after 16th century trade with Europe, Japan, China and the Ryukyu Islands introduced chili peppers and fermented soy paste to the region. According to the Jungbo Sallim gyeongje (증보산림경제, 1765), gochujang was made by adding powdered red chili peppers and glutinous rice powder to soybean paste, and aging this paste under the sun. This recipe is similar to the recipe used today to make gochujang.
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 (chapssal, hangul: 찹쌀), include normal short-grain rice (mepssal, hangul: 멥쌀), 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 flavor.
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. It is used extensively in Korean cooking, to flavor stews (jjigae) such as gochujang jjigae, marinate meat such as gochujang bulgogi, and as a condiment for naengmyeon and bibimbap.
Gochujang is also used as a base for making other condiments, such as chogochujang (초고추장) and ssamjang (hangul: 쌈장). Chogochujang is a variant of gochujang made from gochujang with added vinegar and other seasonings, such as sugar and sesame seeds. It is usually used as a sauce for hoe and hoedeopbap. Similarly, ssamjang is a mixture of mainly gochujang and doenjang, with chopped onions and other spicy seasonings, and is popular with sangchussam (hangul: 상추쌈), which is a lettuce wrap of grilled meat, sliced garlic, green chili peppers and other vegetables.
Gochujang is used in various dishes like bibimbap and tteokbokki, also in salads, stews, soups and marinated meat dishes. Gochujang makes dishes spicier (contributed by the capsaicins from the chili), but also somewhat sweeter.